The Whistler Arts Council continues to build the Whistler Children’s Art Festival, transforming the 23-year-old festival from a children’s event to something that can be enjoyed by the whole family, July 15 and 16 in Creekside.
"Originally the festival was created to give kids and youth the opportunity to experience the arts," said Kelly Clarke, Whistler Arts Council event manager. "When it first started, there was a lack of arts availability for children to engage in. The festival allows them to use their imagination and flourish in the arts. It continues on in this way, but now it also has the purpose to provide an experience for the whole family. They get to enjoy a weekend that is made just for them."
This year children and youth can participate in more than 30 hands-on activities and 80 workshops spaces while mainstage shows and street entertainment keep the crowds entertained. A new scavenger hunt also kicks off festivities a week before the festival.
"We took it from being a bunch of art workshops and street entertainment to a jam-packed weekend," Clarke said. "We’ve got mainstage performances from beginning to end. More street performers. More hands on activities. This year we have 30 (workshops) to choose from. Last year we only had five. We’ve got more of everything this year."
Originally the festival was hosted in Whistler Village then moved to Myrtle Phillip where the festival focused primarily on art workshops rather than the overall festival experience with activities and live performances. Last year, organizers decided to move the festival to Creekside, a decision that resulted in a 200 per cent increase in attendance. Organizers expect even more people this year with Global TV coming on board.
"The festival is going to be on television," Clarke said. "Everyone is going to hear about it. Whistler should be proud to invite families to Whistler’s oldest festival."
Global TV is giving away a getaway prize package for a family of four as part of festival promotions, which includes two nights at the Hilton, festival passes and dinner at the Wildflower.
In addition to Global TV, new festival partners this year include Club Intrawest, The Legends and First Tracks Lodge, who are sponsoring the festival’s mainstage this year. Scotia Bank is also sponsoring workshops with support from Whistler-Blackcomb and Dusty’s.
Organizers are setting the festival buzz early this year with a new event. From June 16 to 26, the festival hosts a Village-wide Family Scavenger Hunt for children 13 and under. Children with their parents will follow a series of clues leading them around Whistler to collect information for forms that they can enter to win awesome prizes. Prizes are donated by Kidz Corner, Millennium Place, The Glass Elevator Candy Shop, Rocky Mountain Chocolate Factory, Great Games and Toys Store, Armchair Books, Please Mum, Old Spaghetti Factory, Fun for Kids, Zog’s Dogs, Bear Pause, Roger’s Chocolates, Domino’s Pizza and Cougar Mountain Adventure Tours. The top prize is a family VIP pass for the festival. Pick up clue forms at any of the above outlets or at the Whistler Arts Council office, local schools or Whistler Visitor Centres.