Whistler Children's Festival brings fun for kids—and organizers 

Annual event back for 36th year from July 5 to 7 in Whistler Olympic Plaza

click to enlarge PHOTO BY REBECCA ROBBINS PHOTOGRAPHY - crafty crew Kids work on their crafts at the Make-It Tent during last year’s Whistler Children’s Festival.
  • Photo by Rebecca Robbins Photography
  • crafty crew Kids work on their crafts at the Make-It Tent during last year’s Whistler Children’s Festival.

Of all the events Arts Whistler puts on, the Whistler Children's Festival just might be the most fun to organize.

"It's someone's job to scour the internet for fun, new crafts that are coming out," says Imogen Osborne, programs and events manager with Arts Whistler. "It's always a fun process getting the list of supplies we need and putting together the crafts."

Things are no different this year. The festival is marking its 36th installation from July 5 to 7 with crafts, performers, and dance parties throughout the weekend.

The festivities kick off on Friday, July 5, from 4 to 7 p.m. with a free all-ages pyjama party hosted by Ira Pettle, who will also DJ and host throughout the weekend.

"We also have ventriloquist Kellie Haines and Smilin' Rylan," Osborne says. "He's going to be doing some songs and getting kids up and dancing."

On Saturday and Sunday, kids will also have the opportunity to drop in at various craft workshops. "We always look at what was popular in years past," Osborne says. "We bring those back because they seem to be the ones people really enjoy."

For those returning festival-goers, that includes shaggy shakers music makers and trucker hats. Some new crafty additions are making crowns, decorating paddleballs, and creating birdhouses.

"Those aren't scheduled," Osborne adds. "They can drop in and out throughout the day."

This year, the festival also partnered with the Squamish Lil'wat Cultural Centre, which will be offering four crafts at the Make-It Tent at set times throughout the day. They include a cedar paddle necklace, buckskin medicine bag, a miniature drum ornament, and a dreamcatcher.

"They'll have the times there (at the tent) and sign-up sheets for people to sign up," Osborne adds.

There will also be booths and activities around Whistler Olympic Plaza, as well as performers, like the story-telling Ta-Daa Lady, the Roaming Diva in costume and on stilts, and the Musical Playground.

"The Musical Playground is ... the big jumbo-size musical instruments that are fun and colourful," Osborne says. "(They're) play-as-you-walk-past type thing."

Another highlight of the weekend, of course, is the performers. To that end, the family fun includes Juno-nominated singer-songwriter Will Stroet of Will's Jams, Bobs and Lolo, also Juno-nominated singer-songwriters, and Circus West circus performers.

"They're going to be doing a ring-side circus show," Osborne says. "They have some aerial rigging and a portable circus ring."

In the meantime, organizers are preparing for the big weekend with locals and visitors set to descend upon the grounds. "We get a lot of returning locals coming year after year," Osborne says. "We see families coming with grandparents, parents, kids. A lot of people are coming year after year and coming back with their family."

Entry to the festival is $10 per day for kids ages three to 10. Kids two and under and people over 11 years old get in for free. The crafts in the Make-It Tent range from one to three "fun tickets" which are $5 each.

Up until July 1 you can also purchase a Helping Hands Festival Entry that will allow Whistler Community Services Society to offer free entry to families in need.

To purchase passes and tickets, or for more information on the schedule, visit whistlerchildrensfestival.com.

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