“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.”
– Pablo Picasso
Whistler has often been compared to Peter Pan’s Neverland, a place people go when they don’t want to grow up. So it’s kind of fitting that our longest-running festival is solely dedicated to children and arts and play. The Whistler Children’s Festival runs this weekend, July 13-14, 2013 in Whistler Olympic Plaza and features two days of live entertainment, art workshops, and all sorts of family fun.
“It was always the best day of the summer as far as I remember,” says Grace Mcleod, a born-and-raised Whistler kid who attended the first Children’s fest in 1983, back when it was called the Whistler Children’s ARTS Festival and was based out of the still-brand-new Whistler Village Square. Now, three decades later the festival is returning to Whistler Village after a great 8 year stint in Whistler Creekside. It’s a move organizers expect will make for the biggest and best festival ever.
“The move to Whistler Olympic Plaza means many more visitors to Whistler will have the opportunity to enjoy the entertainment and mingle with local families,” says longtime resident/mother/librarian/Arts Council member Joan Richoz. Arts still play a major role however, “This is probably the only children’s festival in the province with such a large focus on art workshops as well as entertainment. Watching the kids create their works of art and proudly display it is my favourite part.”
The Inaugural Whistler Children’s Arts Festival in the Village Square circa 1983. Photo by Cliff Jennings
Despite the Whistler Children’s Festival name dropping the word “Arts” this year, the “hands-on” art workshops still steal the show, allowing kids to participate, learn and create rather than simply sit and watch a performance. From soap stone carving to backyard birdhouses to top hats, garden art and a Circus School the Whistler Children’s Festival offers 19 different arts workshops multiple times over the two-day event.
At the same time there will be plenty of great entertainment: from 10 AM to 5 PM both days, the main stage at Whistler Olympic Plaza will come alive with gleeful performances from the likes of The Kerplunk’s, Fresh Groove and the always bankable Major Conrad Flapps. Ache Brasil closes the show on Saturday and Alex Cuba & the Lost Fingers finish things off Sunday evening.
The 2012 Whistler Children’s Festival. The “Checkerboard Guy” has been performing here since I was a kid. He is incredible.
Cool art, fresh air, free music and lots of fun : the Whistler Children’s Festival might be one of the best reasons Whistler has to never grow up. (On the other hand, there’s also something to be said for the comforts of adulthood and more than few parents will be swapping off this weekend—one takes the kids to the Festival while the other hits the spa or patio or bike park or jetboat tour. Whistler is just as much fun for the children-grown-old).
Get a full list of events, performances and workshops at the Whistler Arts Council site and if you see a workshop your kid will love it’s best to sign up in advance. The workshops cost but general entrance to the Festival is by donation.