The Whistler Children’s Festival is marking a major milestone this year: it turns 35, making it Whistler’s longest-running festival.
“I think it’s the community support, really,” says Imogen Osborne, programs and event coordinator with Arts Whistler, the organization that puts on the event. “We have had amazing support and involvement from lots of local businesses and groups for years. We’ve got really great, supportive community sponsors … and our volunteers too. We have some volunteers that have been doing this for probably 35 years. They come back every year.”
This year, the festivities take place in and around Whistler Olympic Plaza from July 6 to 8—with a few changes. The biggest one is the addition of the Make-It craft tent in place of the traditional workshops.
Rather than set times for workshops, it will feature nine, ongoing crafts taking place over the weekend. “It’s semi-self directed,” Osborne says. “You come and choose which crafts you want (to do) … It’s encouraging parents and kids to interact and create together.”
That will range from making backpacks to rain sticks, superhero masks to trucker hats and wind chimes. Parents take note: the festival is also changing currency this year to “fun tickets.”
“In the past, it’s been registration online (for workshops),” Osborne says. “(Now) you can pick when you get on site … with tickets you can buy on top of the entry wristband. They’re $5 each or a pack of five for $20. They’re used for Make It crafts and also for face painting and balloon twisting.”
While the latter two activities have been free in the past, the Friday night kick-off party will be open to everyone for no cost.
“Anybody can come,” Osborne adds. “It’s totally free. We have Ira Pettle as the entertainment there with a local band coming to join him to do an interactive collaboration, which will be really cool. We’ll also have a local food company with mini donuts and they’re giving those away.”
There will also be a range of performers over the weekend. Headliners include a live science show from Science World on Saturday and The African Village Experience with Jacky Essombe on Sunday.
There will also be several local performers, including Big Love and Biggins, JennaMae and the Groove Section, LB Productions and Some Assembly Required.
“We focus on really interactive entertainment,” Osborne says. “Kids can get up and join in, dancing along or up on stage.”
For more information or to purchase wristbands and fun tickets, visit whistlerchildrensfestival.com.