40th anniversary Children’s Festival lineup a triumph

By Zoe Grams

The Canada Show.

The Canada Show.

After a winter we can’t stop talking about, summer is beginning to blossom in Vancouver with patio days, blue skies and much of the population savouring the outdoors.

There are few better places to enjoy this celebratory atmosphere than on Granville Island— one of the city’s cultural and culinary hubs—especially between May 29 and June 4, when the Vancouver International Children’s Festival celebrates its 40th anniversary with a dazzling lineup of theatre, circus, music, storytelling, and interactive events.

Since its first outing in 1977, the Children’s Festival has grown from an ambitious idea into a packed, week-long schedule of artistic performances designed to appeal to children of all ages and their families, too.

This year’s lineup balances popular local acts with a diversity of talent from across the globe.

Highlights include:

Le Groupe Swing

These Franco-Ontarians boast all the essentials of your regular rock band: guitars, drums, and mixing decks. They add to the mix a fiddler who is more disco than orchestra (and who whistles while performing), an infectiously energetic frontman, and lighting that would feel at home on the Granville Strip. The result is an intensely rhythmic performance combining traditional French music, rock, RnB and folk. And, likely, one of the best dance parties someone of any age will experience this season.


Heartfelt and kinetic, this Mexican duo mesmerizes little ones with creative use of percussion-heavy music and simple movements. Using what looks like two thin Jenga towers, the performers create props, landscapes and adventures in which they interact with each other and play. The result is a profoundly peaceful experience that reflects the curiosity and joy we can often best experience at the youngest of ages.


Armed with a loop station and a passion for engaging audiences until their hands are in the air, Canada’s RupLoops, Rup Sidhu, demonstrates how one’s voice (and some technology) is all that’s required to entertain a crowd of hundreds. By building tracks from mouth-percussion, singing and rapping, he offers a repertoire heavy on audience participation that encourages kids to experiment with music themselves—both during this event and beyond.

National Film Board – The Canadian Story

In Canada’s 150th year of Confederation, all eyes are on our country’s complex history and current cultures. The Children’s Festival has compiled a set of short films from the National Film Board that speak to the myriad of experiences that help to create the celebrated diversity within our borders. Selected films include The Sweater, From Far Away and Chinese Violin. Each film explores Canada from a different perspective in ways that are often impossible to find in your local cinema.

The Canada Show

Speaking of patriotism, The Canada Show offers a 60-minute tongue-in-cheek-yet-heartfelt tribute to Canada’s history. Energetic and wide-ranging, the show features sing-along guitar songs, puppet performances, pantomime, and even a grown man in a beaver costume dancing to Born Free. The Ottawa Citizen described the show as “History without the boring stuff” and The Calgary Herald declares it “hilarious!” Its creators, Monster Theatre, have built goodwill across the country and are sure to offer that elusive combination of education and entertainment within their hour.

Shows run on multiple days at various times. For a full line up, or to purchase tickets, visit childrensfestival.ca. Festival Passes are available. A one-day pass costs $12.50 for children and $22 for adults.