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Get ready to sing, move & laugh! North Okanagan Children’s Festival returns May 24

Pay-what-you-can festival invites families to experience and array of music, comedy, circus and more
The 360 All Stars boast a stellar cast of athletes and artists who’ll take the stage at the Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre as part of North Okanagan Children’s Festival. Photo courtesy VDPAC

Babies, toddlers, tweens and teens will all find something to spark joy at the third annual North Okanagan Children’s Festival, May 24 and 25 in Vernon.

Of course, moms, dads, grandparents and other caregivers will also find plenty to sing to, dance to or laugh to during the two-day spring festival hosted by the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre.

Established in 2022, at a time when Vernon’s youngest residents had yet to experience a public group event due to the pandemic, the “pick-your-price” celebration of arts, culture and community is designed to be accessible for all in the region, explains Erin Kennedy, VDPAC Artistic Director.

“What I love about this event is that families can come and experience the performing arts and also learn about all the different activities for families available here in the community,” Kennedy says.

A series of Friday workshops kicks things off in the Mary Fleming Studio, inside the Vernon and District Performing Arts Centre, followed by a late afternoon comedy circus show at the Polson Artisan Night Market and a Saturday full of music, crafts, food and lots to see and do!

Here’s a look at what’s planned:

Friday, May 24

  • 9:15 a.m., Marie Fleming Studio – Baby’s First Concert will be with Okanagan Symphony Orchestra cellist and cello instructor Olivia Walsh. Babies 0 to 12 months old and their caregivers will enjoy beautiful cello music, along with scarf play and some singing.
  • 10:15 a.m., Marie Fleming Studio – Nursery Land Adventure 2.0 invites 2 to 5-year-olds and their caregivers to sing, dance, tap and clap their way through favourite musical nursery rhymes. Led by Vernon Community Music School teacher Ardeth Erikson, expect live musicians and lots of fun!
  • 3:30 p.m., Marie Fleming Studio – A Movement & Rhythm Jamboree keeps the music going for children ages 0 to 7 and their caregivers. Through story, song and little teamwork, creative play led by VCMS teacher Rachel Wyatt will have participants moving their bodies to different rhythms and experimenting with percussion instruments.
  • 4:30 p.m., Marie Fleming Studio – Join the Erikson Family Hootenanny, a chance for families with children ages 0 to 9 to “get up, move and laugh together,” with dance-worthy melodies and fiddle pieces from VCMS teacher Ardeth Erikson and her musical family.
  • 5:30 p.m., at the Polson Parknight market – Meet the GoldenCrust Family, two snowbirds with some highly unusual talents they can’t wait to share. Bring the fam and gather ‘round their RV to witness this exceptional circus comedy show – “just as much fun for parents as it is for the kids,” Kennedy notes.

Saturday, May 25

  • 11 a.m., Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre – Feel the rhythm from Vancouver’s Uzume Taiko Drummers, blending the choreographed physicality of martial arts, the heart-stopping pulse of the O-Daiko and the rhythmic sensitivity of a jazz ensemble into one thrilling experience.
  • 2 p.m., Vernon & District Performing Arts Centre – A self-described “supercharged urban circus,” the 360 All Stars boast a stellar cast of athletes and artists, each with their own specialty, from BMX riding to breakdancing, all crafted into a smash performance seen by more than one million people around the world.
  • Throughout the day – Head outside at the VDPAC to enjoy the community performance stage, try your hand at arts and crafts projects offered by many local organizations, take a turn at the bouncy castle and nourish the family at several food trucks. Families can also indulge in a little quiet time at a cosy reading nook inside.

While the ticket pricing model is designed to keep the festival accessible, as a non-profit society, any revenue from the event will help bring arts programming to Vernon, Kennedy notes. Learn more, purchase tickets and plan your festival visit here.