Kamloops may be Canada’s Tournament Capital, but the community could also be dubbed the Festival City of B.C.
The following is a partial list of events that make Kamloops the go-to-place for festival fun:
Kamloops Film Festival
The Kamloops Film Festival takes place over 10 days and features about 20 films each year. Hosted at the Paramount Theatre in downtown Kamloops, at Victoria Street and Fifth Avenue, the event features award-winning films on the festival circuit from directors all over the world. The festival also features two sub-festivals, the Kamloops Independent Short Short (KISS) Film Fest, which features local filmmakers’ short film productions presented on the big screen, and DarkFest, which screens a selection of terrifying flicks from the horror genre. The festival is typically held at the beginning of March each year. For more information, go online to kamloopsfilmfest.ca.
Kamloops Cowboy Festival
Kamloops Cowboy Festival organizers say it’s the biggest festival of its kind in the entire country. A big part of the festival is its Western art and gear show, which features exhibitors like the B.C. Cowboy Heritage Society, the B.C. Rodeo Association, the historic town of Barkerville, Cariboo Saddlery, Farmhouse Collectibles, Kactus Western Wear, silversmith Richard Tenisch of Merritt and more than 20 others. If you’re just looking to be entertained, you’ve got options. Dinner is served each evening with a show, plus there’s music and entertainment on the schedule every day — and most of the performers are working cowboys. You’ll also be able to see the induction of cowboy notables into the B.C. cowboy hall of fame. The festival is held at the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre in Aberdeen, at 1250 Rogers Way. For more information, go online to bcchs.com/festival.html.
Kamloops Wine Festival
This year, the Kamloops Wine Festival will celebrate its 21st year. In past years, the event has offered tastings from local wineries, including Harper’s Trail, Monte Creek Ranch, Privato and Sagewood Winery, food events with canapés, tapas and multi-course meals and events related to the arts. This year, the festival will run from May 25 to June 1 at the Coast Kamloops Hotel and Conference Centre, 1250 Rogers Way in Aberdeen. For more information, go online to kag.bc.ca/events.
Kamloops Komedy Festival
Join some of the industry’s best and brightest stand-up comedians from across Canada and the United States as they gather in Kamloops to deliver some laughs. Past comedians at the festival include Shaun Majumder, Mike Delamont, Erica Sigurdson, Leland Klassen and Matt Folk. This year will mark the fourth annual festival, which was started by comedian Leland Klassen. Watch for ticket information and this year’s lineup in June or July. For more information, go online to kamloopskomedyfestival.com.
Kamloops International Buskers Festival
The Kamloops International Buskers Festival will return for its second year. Previously hosted in Victoria, the International Buskers festival has come inland to Kamloops. The family-oriented festival will be held over four days, welcoming street performers from across Canada, Europe and Australia. Performers include acrobats, magicians, jugglers, hula hoops, musicians and more. Don’t miss acts like the Hockey Circus Show, Bendy Em, the Silver Starlets and others. There are two stages planned for Riverside Park, plus a number of busk stops along Victoria Street. This year, the festival will run from July 25 to July 28. The event is free to attend, but gratuities to performers are encouraged. For more information, go online to kamloopsbuskers.com.
Hot Nite in the City
Every year, six downtown city blocks are blocked off for hot rods, customs and classic cars of all types to line the streets for Hot Nite in the City. If you’re a fan of American muscle, sport-compacts, tuners, collector and vintage cars, motorcycles, race cars and more, you’ll want to make your way downtown during this weekend. This year, the festival lands on Aug. 9 and Aug. 10 and will feature the 25th annual Show and Shine. For more information, go online to hotniteinthecity.com.
This annual smorgasbord of beef, pork and chicken typically features a half-dozen ribbers from across country, who come to the River City to cook up some smoky BBQ goodness. Vendors are judged by a panel for best ribs and best sauce, with voting for people’s choice taking place throughout the event. Tents will be set up in Riverside Park for refuge from the summer heat. This year, the festival runs from Aug. 9 to Aug. 11, running each day from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. For more information, go online to kamloopsribfest.com.
Kamloops Dragon Boat Festival
With the convenience and beauty of the Riverside Park launching area and the challenge of the flowing Thompson River, the Kamloops Dragon Boat Festival has plenty to offer competitors and viewers alike. Catch dozens of teams of paddlers racing on the Thompson over the weekend event as they compete for the gold. This year’s event will take place on Aug. 10. For more information, go online to kamloopsdragonboatfestival.com.
It’s a beer, bike and live music festival that says it’s here to celebrate Kamloops culture. And there’s food, too. Featuring events like the bike pub crawl and block party, the festival hosts events all around the River City, all stocked with local brews and food. There are also seminars, live music and ,last year, even a homebrew competition. For more information, go online to brewloopsfest.ca.
Words Alive Kamloops
The event, formerly known as the Kamloops Writers Festival, has taken on a new name. Organizer Lindsay Curry said Words Alive Kamloops was chosen because in addition to the traditional workshops for writers, the event will also focus on readers. Each year, guest authors from the region and beyond gather to meet with readers and other writers to talk about their craft. Through panel discussions, mix and mingle events and readings, those attending can gain some insight into the writing world. Last year featured authors Sam Wiebe, Corinna Chong, Tariq Hussain, Kerry Gilbert and Dennis Staginnus. Other past authors of note include the late Richard Wagamese, Anne DeGrace, Lorna Crozier and Michael V. Smith. Dates for this year’s festival are still to be announced. For more information, go online to wordsalivekamloops.com.
Wildlights at the BC Wildlife Park
December and January
Each year around the holidays, the BC Wildlife Park dazzles visitors with brilliant light displays and special attractions throughout the park. The series of family-oriented events makes for a great opportunity to enjoy winter. Other attractions at the weeks-long event include a bonfire and hot chocolate, wagon rides to the North Pole, entertainment from Uncle Chris the Clown and the Wildlife Express, a miniature train families can hop aboard for a trip around the park. For more information, go online to bcwildlife.org/eventslist.htm.