Whistler Children's Festival organizers are preparing for a lot more visitors this year as the annual summer staple moves from its longtime Creekside location to Whistler Olympic Plaza in the village.
"(Festival-goers) are a mixture, split almost 50/50 between locals and visitors," says Patty Blomberg, manager of events and programming for the Whistler Arts Council. "This year we expect a lot of visitors because of the festival's location in the village. The big banners, balloons and tents will be hard to miss."
The event is celebrating its 30th installment this year, with an array of performances and workshops taking place July 13 and 14. Besides the new venue, Blomberg says they're also introducing the RBC emerging artist stage to showcase burgeoning talent in the children's performer scene. "The main stage is also large, providing a better venue for all of the performers," she says.
"New to the lineup this year are the talented hip hop dancers of Fresh Groove, the tribal beats of Makosso Village and the soul-invigorating music of the Blues Berries. There are also new creative workshops, like Felt Pals and Garden Art, both ideal for kids aged three to nine years old. We're also excited to have the library join us this year to offer story time on four occasions each day."
Another highlight performance this year is the Story Theatre Company, a non-profit focused on enhancing education for kids through theatre. The group of actors uses sets, props and costumes to create a show for the entire family.
Flying high more your style? The Vancouver Circus School will also be on hand Saturday afternoon for a show that includes trapeze acts, trampoline and tumbling floor acrobatics.
"The beautiful acrobat moves and rhythmic music of (musical group) Ache Brasil are also not to be missed," Blomberg says. "Because the event is in Whistler Village, there will be a whole new vibe for everyone to experience."
Workshops are also taking place throughout the weekend, with online registration open to secure a spot. Entry is by donation, but some activities with supplies have a small fee. The events are offered for kids as young as three years old, with adult supervision. They include crafts like making "shaggy shaker" noisemakers, bear paw print t-shirts, soap stone carving and building birdhouses.
Other interesting events range from "Outfitted for an Adventure," which offers kids three to five years old a chance to don vests and binoculars to explore Whistler to "Art-Scape" where older children, ages eight and up, create mixed media art projects.
Dream catcher-making classes and an opportunity to create a mosaic with ceramic tiles, mirrors and wood are also taking place.
"It's Whistler's only truly unique Children's Festival focused on children's entertainment where we bring fun to the mountains," Blomberg adds.
Parents, meanwhile, will get a kick out of watching their kids' faces light up. "They will be delighted to see the fun their kids will have and all the performances will entertain them as well," Blomberg says. "They can even get their faces painted or get glitter tattoos as well."
In February, the Whistler Arts Council announced the festival would be moving from Creekside, where it has been held since 2005, to the village where it originally started. It also took place at Myrtle Philip School for a stint from 1992 until 2005. One major difference with the new location is most of the activities will take place outside in tents, rather than in buildings, organizers say.
The new location will help them accommodate more people. They anticipate a spike in attendance from 3,000 last year to 5,000. WAC executive director Doti Niedermayer said in a release earlier this year that they have been planning the move for the last two years. "The strong relationships we have established with Creekside businesses and accommodation providers have been integral to the festival's success so it caused hesitation," she said.
Organizers are still looking for volunteers. To offer your time visit the Whistler Arts Council's front desk at Millennium Place or go to artswhistler.com, which is where you can also find a complete list of performances and workshops.