Festivals in the West Kootenay bring fun, friendship and smiles

It’s festival season in the Koots! Time to don the party hat and polish up the dancing shoes.

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Children standing under an arts installment at night

Revelstoke's Luna Fest is an arts extravaganza of whimsical and stylized art installments across the city. Picture here is LUNAcycle, a creation from the 2018 festival. — Photo courtesy Luna Fest Facebook/Keri Knapp Photography

There’s nothing quite like being at a festival, surrounded by people you don’t necessarily know, yet still feeling like you’re united amongst friends. As any die-hard festival goer can attest to, there’s magic in shared experiences and that’s part of what makes festivals so popular.

Here in the Kootenays, there’s a huge range of summertime festivals to explore—from a mellow wildflower celebration in Revelstoke to the legendary Shambhala electronic music festival in Salmo, there’s a festival for every taste.

Check out our list of the biggest and brightest music, nature and cultural festivals throughout the West Kootenay region. These annual events not only attract new visitors to our region and provide a sense of community for local residents, but they are also an important economic stimulus for local businesses.

Come out and support your community, enjoy a day out with family and friends and celebrate! Also, check out our list of East Kootenay festivals here

Please note that festival dates listed are for 2022. Dates are subject to change from year-to-year. 

Festivals in Castlegar

SunFest: June 3-5

Castlegar’s annual community festival, SunFest, brings together an array of amazing entertainers and performers from across the region. Events include a series of free concerts in Kinsman Park, a parade on Saturday morning and fireworks to help celebrate this special family-friendly weekend. Sunday is dedicated to the kids, with a fun bike parade, games, treats and entertainment planned. The SunFest tennis and pickleball tournaments are always a big draw too.

Festivals in Crawford Bay

Starbelly Jam: Held in July

This annual outdoor music festival brings together an eclectic selection of artists and musical genres—from electronica and pop to bluegrass and reggae. Relaxed and laid-back with a family-friendly atmosphere, Starbelly Jam also features on-site food and market vendors, wandering entertainers, free workshops and much more. While normally held on a weekend in July, this year’s 2022 festival will feature a series of concerts instead of the usual weekend festival.

Festivals in Grand Forks

Canada Rock Fest: August 4-6

The Canada Rock Fest promises to be one of this summer’s hottest festivals. Get ready to rock out with 12 incredible headliners planned, including Our Lady Peace, April Wine, 54-40 and Theory of a Deadman. There’s a beer garden on site as well as food and market vendors. On-site camping is also available with a ticket.

Floating stage and crowd at the Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival.

Dance to summertime sounds at the Kaslo Jazz Etc.Music Festival. — Photo courtesy Kaslo Jazz Etc. Festival Facebook

Festivals in Kalso

Kaslo Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival: July 29-31

Lovers of blues, jazz, folk, Latin and world music will feel right at home at the Kaslo Jazz Etc. Summer Music Festival. Held at Kaslo Bay Park, this weekend festival brings together world-class performers and entertainers showcasing their talents via a unique floating stage.  Families are welcome and there is a huge range of activities to keep the kids occupied—from playing on the beach and swimming to jugglers and puppet shows. Craft beer is on tap, and there is a large selection of food, drink and market vendors on site.

Kaslo May Days: May 21-23

Kaslo’s very own return-to-summer festival—May Days—has been celebrated in the community since 1892. The Logger Sports competition is a spectator favourite, with competitors vying for glory in events like log rolling and axe throwing. There’s also a May Day parade and famous Maypole Dance, the Sunday Show N’ Shine with antique and classic cars, Music in the Park, a rubber duck race, and craft and market vendors and more.

Festivals in Nelson

Elephant Mountain Literary Festival: June 23-26

Known as one of Canada’s great literary festivals, this yearly gathering brings writers, wordsmiths and book lovers together for a series of literary and prose workshops, talks with guest speakers, storytelling, concerts and more. Events are held at the Prestige Lakeside Resort in downtown Nelson as well as other venues around the community.

Mural of wolf inside rainbow on building.

The Nelson International Mural Festival celebrates the work of talented street artists and creators from around the world. — Photo courtesy Nelson International Mural Festival Facebook

International Mural Festival: August 12-14

The Nelson International Mural Festival celebrates public art, imagination and creativity and aims to increase cultural vibrancy in the community. Throughout the summer, local, national and international street artists and muralists are invited to beautify the city with their designs. As murals are completed, the locations are listed on a map for residents and visitors to discover. The three-day festival in August celebrates these public art installments, along with street parties, DJs, live theatre and more.

Kootenay Burlesque Festival: June 24-25

Va va voom! The 3rd annual Kootenay Burlesque Festival kicks off at the Capitol Theatre in Nelson on the last weekend in June. Showcasing some of the best burlesque performers, drag artists, acrobats and stage entertainers from across Western Canada, prepare to be teased and titillated to your heart’s content.

Festivals in Revelstoke

LUNA Art Fest: September 23-25

The LUNA Art Fest brings three days and nights of art and energy to the streets of Revelstoke. The theme for this year’s 2022 festival is Flight, so expect to see a multitude of soaring, interactive and immersive art installations across the city. LUNA Fest is a transformative arts experience that weaves together large-scale projections, pop-up street performances, digital murals and more from talented artists and creators.

Scenic photo of wildflowers in foreground, with sun setting in background and bike rider.

Take in the beauty and spectacular scenery of Revelstoke during the Wildflower Festival. — Photo courtesy Revelstoke Wildflower Festival Facebook

Revelstoke Wildflower Festival: August 3-7

Celebrate the simplicity and beauty of Revelstoke’s alpine wildflowers at the Wildflower Festival. Held to coincide with the optimal wildflower bloom time, the festival offers a wealth of family-friendly activities that revolve around these iconic and much-photographed wildflowers. Take in the spectacular Revelstoke views by bike, foot or gondola, listen to live music, take a workshop or indulge in a wildflower meadow painting session—there’s so much to see and do at the Revelstoke Wildflower Festival.

Festivals in Salmo

Shambhala Music Festival: July 22-25

From a small gathering back in 1998 to the legendary, almost mythical status it holds today, the Shambhala Music Festival is one of the most renowned electronic music festivals in North America. Held at the Salmo River Ranch, Shambhala attracts some of the most talented DJs and electronic artists from around the world, and thousands of people flock to this yearly, much-anticipated event. Six uniquely-themed stages are set up, each with its own artistic director who sets the vibe, music and atmosphere of each stage. At its heart, though, Shambhala is still the grassroots venture it started off as and is the ultimate celebration of arts, music, culture and love.

Laser lights and crowd at Shambhala Music Festival

Shambhala is one of Western's Canada largest electronic music festivals. — Photo courtesy Shambhala Music Festival

Festivals in Trail

Silver City Days: Held in May

Trail’s Silver City Days is an annual festival that celebrates the community and people of Trail. Normally held in May, the event features a parade, carnival rides, fireworks, the Miss Trail Pageant, sports events, activities for kids and much more. Unfortunately, the festival has been postponed until 2023 due to COVID-19 restrictions. The organizers and volunteers behind this beloved annual festival look forward to its return.

Festivals in Ymir

Tiny Lights Festival: September 2-4

The small village of Ymir plays host to the Tiny Lights Festival each year. The Village is home to interactive art projects, displays, music, spoken word, art and workshops throughout the weekend. At the heart of the festival is the Sustainability Village—this area features food, music and merchandise for sale but also educates and teaches people about the importance of living eco-friendly and sustainable lifestyles.

Julie Matchett

Julie Matchett is a writer and content coordinator for KPI Media. She ranks as a 7 on the Introversion vs. Extraversion scale out of 100, which might help to explain why she chose a career of quiet contemplation as opposed to public speaking. View all of Julie Matchett’s articles

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