Film festivals in British Columbia can be found in many places throughout the province, but these are not the only popular events in this region. Events of all sorts take place throughout the year and can make the perfect complement to all kinds of vacations to British Columbia.
The most important of the film festivals in BC Canada is the Vancouver International Film Festival, held for two weeks around the end of September and beginning of October. Entries come from more than 50 countries around the world, and the Dragons and Tigers Award competition is the largest exhibitor of Asian films outside of Asia. Recent winners include everyone from Michael Moore (Bowling for Columbine) to Dan Stone (At the Edges of the World).
Several of the firm festivals are of national and international significance. The significance of one may not be apparent until many years after it is held. This includes the BC Student Film Festival held over three days at the Centre for Arts and Technology in Kelowna. It is open to all students in the province (they must also be sponsored by a British Columbia teacher) whether they are in first grade or graduate school. During the course of showcasing their work, the young filmmakers have the opportunity to attend workshops with industry professionals. Since British Columbia is the third largest film production region in North America (after Los Angeles and Toronto), the student filmmakers have excellent opportunities to study with superb professionals and the chance of "making it big" themselves in the years to come.
As with the prestigious Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, several important film festivals in British Columbia are held in the winter. Peak tourism season in the province occurs during the pleasanter weather from late spring to early autumn. Possibilities for winter tourism are largely limited to winter sports, and holding British Columbia events during the winter brings more visitors who might not necessarily come otherwise. One of these winter film festivals in British Columbia is the Whistler Film Festival held for a week during the first part of December against the majestic mountains of the Whistler Blackcomb Ski Resort.
There are plenty of other types of festivals in BC Canada to enjoy at just about any time of the year. Whale watching is extremely popular, and the region claims some of the densest population of whales anywhere. They come from southern climates beginning around mid March, and you can begin the season with them at the Pacific Rim Whale Festival as about 21,000 gray whales begin arriving off the western coast of Vancouver Island. If you can't come for the festival, you can still view whales (just about guaranteed) until mid-October when they begin to return to Mexico for the winter. Great places for whale watching also include the Queen Charlotte Islands and northerly Prince Rupert on the Alaska border. More British Columbia events celebrate migrations of other species. Come to Qualicum Beach in April to witness the stopover of more than 20,000 Brant geese before they continue their amazing journey to Alaska.
More important festivals in BC Canada include the June Jazz Fest International held for ten days in the lovely capital city of Victoria. More than 250 of the world's best jazz, blues, and world beat artists gather in both outdoor and indoor venues in the downtown area. Head to the Okanagan Valley for the Canada Ironman Triathlon or for one of several wine festivals sponsored by the more than 100 wineries in the region. The Vernon Winter Carnival in February is the second largest in North America (after Quebec).
Several British Columbia events celebrate the rich history and culture of the province's First Nations. The Kamloops Indian Powwow is held by the seventeen bands of the Shuswap in August. A different kind of heritage and history is celebrated at the July Williams Lake Stampede where cowboys and cowgirls from western Canada and the United States gather for bull riding, calf roping, bareback bronco busting, and barrel racing. Try the Penticton Peach Festival (August), the Creston Valley Blossom Festival (May) in the Kootenay Rockies, the fabulous Dragon Boat Festival (June) in Vancouver, or the Abbotsford International Air Show (August), the largest aerial extravaganza in North America.
Image: Tourism BC/David Gluns