Olympic-sized festival in February 

Art exhibitions, film screenings, and literary and performing arts events next month

What: Celebration 2010

Where: Around Whistler

When: Feb. 3-27

Whistler artists, filmmakers, musicians, photographers and writers come together to build on one of the three Olympic pillars – the arts – with Celebration 2010 packing in a cultural feast of 17 events with 150 participating artists Feb. 3-27 throughout the Sea to Sky corridor.

The province-wide festival was originally created to generate excitement and awareness for the 2010 Winter Olympic bid when International Olympic Committee members visited Whistler and Vancouver in 2003. Whistler was the only community to carry on with the arts extravaganza tradition every year, readying itself for the VANOC-led, four-year arts festival leading up to the Games, which begins next year.

"At the end of the day, (Whistler) will have much more of a presence with the Olympic Arts Festival than if we hadn’t done Celebration 2010," said Doti Niedermayer, executive director of the Whistler Arts Council.

"We have positioned ourselves, so when (VANOC) is thinking of arts for next year, we get called and involved."

Not only do the lead up festivals ensure local talent will be incorporated into Game festivities, but Celebration 2010 helps build cultural capacity in Whistler, getting organizations involved, organized and working together.

Celebration 2010 continues to grow with the addition of Lower Mainland talent last year and a movement towards a broader Canadian reach for this year and years to come.

"We recognize it is a global arts and culture exchange that we want to promote," Niedermayer said.

Classic Celebration 2010 events to look out for this year include the return of the Out of Bounds: Tales from the Backcountry photographic exhibit and competition Feb. 1-28 at MY Millennium Place. An opening reception with guest speaker Hugo Harrison and music from DJ Mister Fister takes place Saturday, Feb. 4 at 7 p.m. at MY Place.

The competition features glimpses into B.C.’s beautiful backcountry sports by both professional and amateur photographers. The public votes for Best of Show with a chance to win a heli-skiing trip.

New photographers featured this year include Jonas Hoke, Ted Nodwell, Andrew Bradley and Miroslaw Kuras, along with veteran photographers Bruce Rowles, Dagan Beach, Richard Duncan, Blake Jorgenson, Paul Cordy, John Hewson, Bonny Makarewicz, Don Cole Harvey and Dave Humphreys.

The Cultural Cabaret is the highlight of the festival with all artistic mediums showcased on one stage for one night Sunday, Feb. 12 at MY Millennium Place. The regional showcase includes a night of music, dance, theatre and comedy. Buy your tickets early. This event always sells out.

The Whistler Museum & Archives carries on with its five-part documentary series Community Now Thursday, Feb. 23 at 7 p.m. at MY Millennium Place. Last year’s self-produced featurette film looked at Whistler through senior residents’ eyes. This year, the film shares the stories and perceptions of Whistler youth. For free tickets call 604-932-2019.

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