Festivals in the East 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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Fred Penner and fellow musician on stage.

Children's entertainer, Fred Penner, takes centre stage at the Kootenay Children's Festival. — Photo courtesy Kootenay Children’s Festival Facebook page

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 free annual event that celebrates the magic of childhood to one of the biggest wildlife festivals in Canada, there’s an event for every taste.

Check out our list of the biggest and brightest music, nature and cultural festivals throughout the East 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 West Kootenay festivals here

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

Country singers on stage.

Get ready for a boot-stompin', toe-tappin' good time at Flats Fest, featuring some of the best names in Canadian country music. — Photo courtesy FlatsFest

Festivals in Canal Flats

Flats Fest: August 19-21

Flats Fest is a three-day toe-tappin’ country music festival that brings some of the best names in Canadian country music to the beautiful village of Canal Flats. Enjoy the beer garden while you listen to top headline acts from across the country, as well as many supporting bands and musicians. Bring your camp chairs, sit back and prepare for a fantastic weekend of musical entertainment! There are also vendors, and camping is available on-site.

Festivals in Cranbrook

Kootenay Children’s Festival: May 7

The Kootenay Children’s Festival is a fun-filled day that celebrates the magic, fun and wonder of childhood. It’s one of the last remaining free children’s festivals in British Columbia. The festival has an ever-changing schedule of well-known performers each year—past guests have included beloved children’s entertainer Fred Penner, Ktunaxa Nation storytellers, and dancers and circus troupes. There’s a kaleidoscope of fun-filled activities to explore such as crazy hair and face painting booths, bouncy castles and flower planting.

PEAK Music Festival: September 2-3

The PEAK Music Festival is a two-day event that proudly showcases the talented musicians and artists who call the East Kootenay region home. Comprised of live music, dance and art exhibits, the festival inspires a sense of community pride. The event is organized by volunteers of the Fisher Peak Performing Artists Society (FPPAS), a non-profit also known for the free community Summer Sounds concert series at Cranbrook’s Rotary Park.

Horse and wagon at Sam Steele Days parade.

Cranbrook's Sam Steele Days is the biggest festival in the East Kootenays. — Photo courtesy samsteeledays.org

Sam Steele Days: June 16-19

One of the biggest festivals in the East Kootenay, Sam Steele Days is a family-friendly four-day celebration that celebrates a legendary figurehead in the history of the Canadian West, superintendent Sam Steele. The festival kicks off with a community-wide pancake breakfast and a host of fun events, including a parade in downtown Cranbrook. Other festivities include a vendor market, live music and entertainment, an inflatable funland for kids and the always popular weiner dog races.

Festivals in Creston

Creston Valley Bird Festival: May 13-15

Did you know the Creston Valley is an important staging area for migratory birds, with over 300 different species spotted in the region? Come and celebrate the birds, art and agriculture of the Creston Valley at the Creston Valley Bird Festival. A variety of birdwatching activities led by field experts are offered at the festival—guided canoe trips, local naturalist tours, bird identification workshops and more. There are also photography and bird-oriented courses, art displays, local wine and walking tours, and activities for kids.

Canoe full of people heading under bridge in marshy area.

It's all about the birds at the annual Creston Valley Bird Festival. Guided canoe tours, workshops, birdwatching trips and more are all on offer. — Photo courtesy Wildsight/Creston Valley Bird Festival

Creston Valley Blossom Festival: May 20-23

Now in its 81st year, the Creston Valley Blossom Festival was originally planned as a way to lift spirits in the midst of the war years. The residents of Creston and area are proud to continue this tribute to community resilience each year. A whole host of fun, family-friendly activities happen throughout the town during this three-day festival: a main parade followed by a children’s parade the next day, a midway and carnival rides, a street fair, dances, drag car races and much more.

Festivals in Edgewater

Steamboat Mountain Music Festival: July 8-10

Held in the picturesque Columbia Valley, the Steamboat Mountain Music Festival is a grassroots, all-genre musical celebration of the arts. The festival showcases talented musicians from near and far. Enjoy a fun, family-friendly atmosphere, artist workshops, roving performers and more at this three-day festival.

Festivals in Fairmont Hot Springs 

Wicked Woods Music and Arts Festival: May 26-28/September 8-10

Nestled in the heart of the Columbia Valley, the Wicked Woods Music and Arts Festival is a feast for the imagination. Prepare for a weird, whimsical and wonderful array of workshops, performing artists, DJ's, musicians and more, all intent on celebrating life with as much sight and sound as possible. 

Festivals in Fernie

Wapiti Music Festival: August 5-6

Dance your heart out at the Wapiti Music Festival, celebrating the best in Canadian Indie music. Located in a beautiful park in the heart of the Rocky Mountains, this family-friendly festival offers up a fun, funky atmosphere and a host of activities for all ages. There are food trucks galore, a vendor market, activities for kids and, of course, great entertainment and live music.

People silhouetted against coloured lights on stage at night.

Marching to the beat of a different drum is all good at the Feral Arts & Music Festival—diversity and inclusion are warmly celebrated here. — Photo courtesy Feral Music Festival webpage

Festivals in Golden

Feral Music & Arts Festival: June 17-19

Ensuring an immersive, inclusive and inspiring experience for all is at the heart of the Feral Music & Arts Festival. Held at the Beaverfoot Lodge near Golden, this three-day festival highlights unique diversity in arts, music and culture. Camping is welcome, and there are food and craft vendors on site at this family-friendly festival.

Festivals in Invermere

Columbia Valley Smokeshow BBQ Festival (and BBQ competition): June 25-26

The grills are getting fired up at the first annual Columbia Valley Smokeshow BBQ Festival! Pitmasters and backyard grill warriors are invited to compete in this two-day festival and BBQ cook-off. Sanctioned by the Kansas City Barbecue Society, the competition will see teams grilling up four types of meat and competing for some hefty prize money to boot. This family-friendly event will also feature a Family Fun Zone, a live music stage, beer gardens, market vendors and food trucks, plus demonstrations and presentations from BBQ Pitmasters. All proceeds from this exciting new festival will be reinvested into future Columbia Valley community events, including the 2023 Smoke Show. Come and get your grill on!

Wings Over the Rockies Nature Festival: May 9-15

One of Canada’s largest wildlife festivals, the Wings Over the Rockies Nature Festival celebrates the incredible biodiversity of life in the Upper Columbia River wetlands. Now in its 25th year, the festival features over 100 family-friendly events. From paddle and hiking trips to photography workshops and a KidsFest, there’s something for everyone to take part in. Guided by local educators, wildlife experts, conservationists, biologists and ecologists, there’s a wealth of fascinating knowledge waiting to be discovered about the Columbia Valley.

Festivals in Kimberley

JulyFest: July 15-17

People wearing costumes at July Fest.

Get wild and crazy at Kimberley's JulyFest! The whackier the outfits the better during the famous Bocce Ball championships. — Photo courtesy July Fest Facebook page

JulyFest is one of Kimberley’s biggest events and celebrates local sport and music. Happening over three days, the highlight of this fun-fest is the Canadian Bocce Ball Championships where teams of four compete for fame and Bocce ball glory. Not to be missed is the JulyFest parade, an invitational soccer tournament, extreme skateboarding, live music, bands and great food vendors. 

Kimberley Kaleidoscope Arts & Culture Festival: August 20-27

Celebrate the arts at the Kimberley Kaleidoscope Arts & Culture Festival, an eight-day artisitc extravaganza. Through a series of visual, performing arts and literary events, regional and touring artists get the chance to showcase their work, while visitors and local residents can participate in demonstrations and workshops.

Marysville Daze: June 4

Join the party at the annual Marysville Daze. This one-day festival brings together the community for a day of fun and celebration. There is a pancake breakfast to start, followed by the opening of the Maker’s Market and Beer Gardens. Enjoy live music all day, plus a great variety of food trucks to choose from. For the kids, there’s a huge play area to explore including a bouncy castle and games with prizes.

Round the Mountain Festival: June 19

This one-day festival showcases the spectacular scenery and extensive trail network around Kimberley’s North Star Mountain. Hosted by the Kimberley Trails Society, the festival features a variety of hiking, running and mountain bike challenges around the mountain. There are also kid’s races, live music and great food options at this family-friendly festival.

Festivals in Sparwood

Coal Miner Days: June 5-11

Sparwood’s annual Coal Miner Days brings the community together for a days-long festival and celebration that’s fun for the whole family. There’s a wealth of entertaining activities for all ages, including a Slo-Pitch tournament and beer gardens, a food truck festival, roller-skating, carnival games for the kids and fireworks.

People climbing up a large log.

Climbing high at Sparwood's Coal Miner Days. — Photo courtesy coalminerdays.com

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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