Vancouver International Children’s Festival

The Children’s Festival is coming!
Located at Vanier Park, on the shores of English Bay in Kitsilano, it runs for a week starting the Monday prior to the May long weekend, and ending on the Victoria Day holiday Monday.  This year (2010) it’s May 17 – 24.  The website is
I’ve been taking my daughter to the festival since she was two years old, and she just turned eight.  We usually buy tickets to a show, which is the best deal because the admission price to the site is included.  We’ve paid just the gate admission a couple of times when the shows we wanted to see were sold out.  It’s still worth attending as there are plenty of free workshops and things for kids to do, and great entertainment on the Bandshell stage, which is free and programmed to appeal to all ages.
There are 14 different shows to choose from this year.  All shows are $16 plus services fees (total is $19.25), free for children under 24 months Go to the festival site to see info, times and ticket availability.
There is also a variety show on the Saturday evening (May 22) at 6:30 p.m.  It features five of the show headliners all on one bill.  The price is $20 per adult and $18 for youth (plus service charges).  I have never attended the variety show, but I’ve heard it’s great for older children and their families.
Best activities for the little ones:
Pre-school pavilion
Young children can enjoy their own special play zone filled with imaginative and educational toys.  There is even a carpeted area for babies to crawl around.  Plenty of stroller parking outside.
Make Music
Introduction to Japanese Taiko Drumming, Sunday, May 23
Join in a 15-20 minute session that will introduce children and parents to taiko drumming, Japanese folk dances and Japanese words. All ages welcome.
Rest on a bench while your children play in a giant sandbox filled with great toys.  It also has a roof over it, for those rainy days.
Great activities for school-age kids:
Aboriginal Crafts
This tent will feature bead necklace-making workshops.
BC Hydro Power Smart Youth Zone
Kids can test their dancing skills while answering questions about energy conservation on our new Power Smart Dance Floor. Or send a postcard to a friend telling them what they already are doing to conserve energy and what they can do to be a Local Champion of energy conservation as well.  These activities are always interactive and educational.  
Gotta Dance!
Join the dancers and let the world beat move your feet.  There is a featured type of dance each day.
Learn to Call 9-1-1
Kids can learn the right way to get help in case of an emergency. This area offers a mini-course on 9-1-1, and kids can tour an ambulance and receive plenty of take-home reminders and safety tips.
Make a Kite
Kids can assemble and decorate their very own paper bag kite featuring a smoke-free world;
then send it soaring in the sky over Vanier Park.
Make Music
Spoons n’ Tunes Orchestra, Tuesday, May 18
Take part in 30-minute workshops making music with spoons, ice cream buckets and rattles & shakers at 10am, 11am, 12pm, 1pm.
Port Metro Vancouver
Visit our tent to meet Salty and enjoy some maritime fun and activities. Make your own captain’s hat and play the Cargo Hockey Challenge!
Rio Tinto Alcan Imagination Station
Create imaginative crafts using aluminium and other recyclable products. Plus, meet everyone’s favourite, AlexCander.
Taiwanese Canadian Cultural Society
Explore the vibrant culture of Taiwan through paper cutting, calligraphy, folk games and puppets.
Terasen Gas Play Zone
Learn how to stay safe around natural gas at our fun Play Zone. Find out what you can do to save energy and help our planet be cleaner.
Vancouver Sun Storytelling Tent
Kids can experience the magic of literature, presented by Vancouver Public Library’s finest storytellers.
Fun for all ages:
Face Painting
Let our face painters transform you or create your own designs at our full-serve and self-serve face painting stations.
The food services area is usually pretty good, if a bit pricey.  We usually bring lots of snacks, as we stay the whole day, and then buy some food from the concession stands for lunch.  There are also a few tents from local kid’s stores, selling toys and costumes, etc.  I find it works best to discuss any possible purchases BEFORE we get to the festival.  Sometimes my daughter brings some of her own money to spend on a special trinket.
If you’re going on a sunny day, bring plenty of water, sunscreen and hats.  We’ve been sunburned on our heads a few times!  There are wagons available to borrow from information services, if you have little ones and didn’t bring a stroller, although I always found the site to be quite stroller friendly.  A blanket to sit on, especially to enjoy the free acts performing on the bandshell, is always handy.
One of the most fun parts of the festival is the roving characters that stop and engage the kids.  Sometimes they are on stilts, sometimes they are just clowns are magical princesses, or clowns, or wandering minstrels.  They also make for great photo opportunities.
Here’s to another fun and memorable festival in 2010.  Hope to see you there!

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