Summer festivals in B.C. cottage country

Published: June 10, 2013 · Updated: June 12, 2017


It’s easy to lose track of time on a hot summer day. You crack the cover of a new book, and all of a sudden you’ve nearly finished it and the sun’s setting. But if you’re looking for some great additions to your summer itinerary, look no further. From art gatherings to weekend-long music festivals, we’ve compiled the ultimate festival guide for B.C. cottage country.

When it comes to festivals, most people think of music, but B.C.’s cottage country offers a wide range of festivals to suit everyone’s taste.

Arts and crafts festivals
For those interested in visual arts and crafts, the Kootenays have several summer events worth leaving your cottage deck for. In Nakusp on the picturesque Arrow Lakes, consider taking in Art Walk. Nelson also has an annual Art Walk, which features local art spread throughout the community. And if you’re in town for the opening night, get ready for roaming musical acts, street art, and performers and activities for kids.

B.C.’s Gulf Islands are home to numerous artists of all kinds, and on Salt Spring Island from June 14 to September 15 you can see a selection of works by various Gulf Island artists at Artcraft, which showcases pieces of interest to all ages and budgets.

Celebrate Comox Valley history, art, and music at the 2013 Filberg Festival. The event is located in and around the beautifully landscaped grounds of the Filberg Heritage Lodge. This year’s festival not only shines the spotlight on local artists but also hosts musicians like the Fred Eaglesmith Traveling Steam Show, Jim Byrnes, and Spirit of the West.

B.C. music festivals
If you’re ready to get out your dancing shoes and enjoy some great music outdoors, there’s no shortage of great music festivals across B.C.

The Robson Valley Music Festival, located in Dunster, has been drawing a crowd for years thanks to their eclectic and always entertaining lineup of musical guests. This small-town event is bringing big talent again this year with acts like Australian roots rocker Ash Grunwald, indie folk band Hollow Wood, and Ontario DJs A Tribe Called Red.

If you’re spending some time at a cottage in B.C.’s Okanagan and you happen to be an Elvis fan, make sure you stop at Penticton’s Pacific Northwest Elvis Festival, held from June 28 to 30. There will be dozens of tribute artists on the outdoor stages set around Okanagan Lake, including special guests Friends of Elvis.

In the Kootenays there are various music festivals to keep even the pickiest music lovers happy. There is everything from Fernie’s Wapiti Festival, which will be hosting some of Canada’s best indie rock such as Montreal’s Plants and Animals, Vancouver based Delhi to Dublin, and Fernie’s own Shred Kelly, to Ymir’s Tiny Lights Festival, which features music, theatre, spoken word, and visual art.

Another hidden gem for those who are going to be spending time the cottage country surrounding Kootenay Lake is Starbelly Jam Music Festival in Crawford Bay. If you’re coming to Crawford Bay from the west, you’ll actually get to ride the longest free ferry in B.C. on your way to seeing great music like Kimya Dawson, whose music appeared on the Juno soundtrack, and CBC Searchlight winners the Good Ol’ Goats. Starbelly Jam is also a great way for the whole family to enjoy a festival. There are crafts and a great selection of entertainment for kids.

Food and drink festivals
If your summer festival cravings include wine, food, and beer, there is a host of great opportunities to taste everything B.C. has to offer.

In early June Tofino hosts the annual Tofino Food and Wine Festival, which features events like Grazing in the Gardens which showcases local food paired with beautiful B.C. wines.

The summer is also a great time for seafood, and many coastal communities like Comox celebrate the best of the season with festivals such as the B.C. Shellfish Festival, which is capped with a chef’s dinner at the Filberg Heritage Lodge.

All around B.C., people will be out and about sharing the best of their local culture with those around them. So as you head to cottage country this summer, make sure you keep an eye out for events that might pop up. You won’t want to miss the great music, food, theatre, and art!


Megan Cole is an award-winning Victoria, B.C.–based journalist and freelance writer. She most enjoys writing about food and music, and when she isn’t behind a keyboard or camera, you can find her in the kitchen or at a concert. Visit her other blogs at: or