8 Can't-Miss Cultural Events In Western Canada

Canada is often recognized for kind, friendly people and natural beauty. What sometimes goes overlooked, however, is the country's rich and diverse offerings of arts and culture. Whether you're interested in food, film, people, literature, or even motorcycles, the following are some events, listed in no particular order, that take place in the western part of the Great White North.

Starting at #1, the Vancouver Queer Film Festival showcases dynamic and thought-provoking movies from local filmmakers, as well as other Canadian and international storytellers. As Western Canada’s largest queer arts event, the Festival curates films that contextualize and celebrate the lives and experiences of diverse identities, including narratives from trans folks, people of color, and Indigenous persons.

This event offers audiences a chance to view contemporary independent queer cinema along with the opportunity to attend workshops, artist Q&A's, panels, parties, and more. Each year, the Festival is curated by an Artistic Director and centers on a particular theme. The Festival welcomes attendees from all walks of life to gather and experience a different kind of story from what they may be used to.

Moving on, #2 on the list is GlobalFest. This annual celebration showcases Calgary's cultural diversity and artistic expression. The organizers of the event are committed to producing an inclusive, multi-faceted arts festival as a means to enhance Alberta's reputation as a world-class destination.

The Fest's fireworks competition features presentations by global pyrotechnic and musical artists, who hail from countries including China, India, Japan, and the Philippines. Each year, the show culminates with GlobalFest's own finale presentation. After the display, guests can check out the Night Market, which features vendors selling handcrafted keepsakes, accessories, clothing, and more.

Next up, at #3, VanWineFest has provided an educational and entertaining vino experience to industry professionals and the general public for over 40 years. It has been voted the "#1 Food, Wine & Hospitality Event in Canada" six years in a row by New York's BizBash.

The heart of the Fest is the Tasting Room, where attendees can choose from over 700 wines to sample. Every year, there is a focus on a different region or country; the featured region has its own section in the Tasting Room, and there are thematic seminars as well as food and wine pairings throughout the week.

Located just a couple of hours from the Rocky Mountains, in the heart of the Canadian Prairies, the Edmonton International Film Festival is #4 on our list. Each year, the organizers of this event showcase more than 150 movies from over 50 countries, made by both veteran and emerging talent. The curation includes both short and feature-length films, and genres such as drama, documentary, comedy, experimental, and more.

Established in 1986, the event's primary objective is to encourage and support the appreciation of cinema. All of the programming is selected on the basis of story, quality, and originality, with films that have never-before been shown to audiences in Edmonton. The celebration also hosts a variety of talks, Q&A's, gala screenings, a local filmmaker spotlight, and shorts with lunch.

The #5 spot goes to the Vancouver Writers Fest. The organizers of this event aim to encourage readers of all ages to explore the power of storytelling and books. This annual literary gathering is one of the largest in North America, bringing tens of thousands of audience members to see events showcasing local and international authors during one week in October.

The Fest includes readings, panel discussions, performances, and interviews. The organization also hosts a range of special events throughout the year, such as a free reading series called Incite. For unpublished and emerging writers, there are open mics held during Festival week.

At #6, the Calgary Motorcycle Show is an annual get-together for seasoned motorbikers, novices, and enthusiasts. Here, attendees can meet experts, and see newly released bikes, gear, apparel, ATVs, and more. This family-friendly event has plenty to see and do for folks of all ages, including the Yamaha Riding Academy, where kids can learn how to ride in a safe and secure environment, under the supervision of trained and certified instructors.

For those looking for a fun girl's night out, the She Rides event invites women to come and connect with other female motorists and build new friendships. It provides an ideal opportunity for any motorcycle-curious ladies to take the first or next step in their riding adventure.

#7 on our list is Folklorama, an annual festival and year-round program that attracts people from around the world to Winnipeg, Manitoba. Participants get the chance to see world-class entertainment, enjoy authentic cuisine, take in vivid displays, and experience the diverse cultures that make up the fabric of the city.

Folklorama was named one of the "Top 10 Best Festivals for Food in North America" by Forbes Magazine. For those interested in trying out different flavors, the VIP Tours provide guests with an all-inclusive experience at the Pavilions, where the ethno-cultural diversity of Manitoba is promoted through food, entertainment, and education.

Finally, Saskatoon Pride tops off our list at #8. This is an annual event that values, celebrates, and supports two-spirit, queer, lesbian, gay, trans, bi, and other sexually-diverse people and their families. The festivities encompass a wide range of programming including a parade, dinners, drive-in movie screenings, performances, and more.

In addition to the annual festival, the Saskatoon Pride organization also offers a range of events for locals and visitors to check out throughout the year. One of them, the Two Spirit Ball, is a celebration of the area's two-spirited community members. It encourages folks to listen, learn, and above all, enjoy the gifts of these artists and allies from Saskatchewan and across Turtle Island.