Monday, March 02, 2015

Festival Nanaimo - Top Notch March Lineup

Festival Nanaimo plans to bring March in like a lion, with a blend of music, family events and more worth roaring about.

The festival, launched in January after many months of preparation, hopes to bring in visitors to the city and offer a wider array of activities for families looking for something fun to do during the extended March break.

“We started talking about doing a Festival about eight months ago that would be multi-dimensional and encompass all the arts as well as showcase all the great things to do in Nanaimo, says Festival Nanaimo executive director Margot Holmes, noting March is a particularly busy month. “The Port Theatre is busy almost every night, the Vancouver Island Symphony has two concerts, TheatreOne has two one-act comedy shows, Nanaimo Conservatory is bringing pianist, Andre Laplante, Crimson Coast Dance presents BodyTalk, the Nanaimo Art Gallery and Nanaimo Museum have great interactive exhibits to name only some events.” 

The Vancouver Island Symphony, with its history of strong ticket sales and ability to partner with other groups, has committed to be the lead organizer behind the festival for at least two years, said Holmes, also the VIS executive director. The festival brings together arts organizations to work with other groups such as the Downtown Nanaimo Business Improvement Association, the Chamber of Commerce, Tourism Nanaimo and local businesses to showcase all the great things to do here in Nanaimo, says Holmes.

The festival lineup is top-notch. “The nine Festival Nanaimo Signature Events were chosen knowing the entertainment that Nanaimo audiences enjoy,” Holmes says, citing a concert that will have musical greats Jim Byrnes, Barney Bentall and John Mann performing together in one show. “This is an extra-special event and tickets are going fast. Tiller's Folly and Royal Wood will be sharing a show. Anyone who loves great Canadian song writing should be at this show. I saw Chase Padgett's show 6 Guitars and it is fabulous. I laughed so hard and it is so good artistically.”

Some shows are virtually selling themselves. Ticket sales have been so good for the award-winning musical theatre show, Tonight ... Piaf starring Joelle Rabu that a second show was added. The Festival Nanaimo shows mark the first time this show will be performed with orchestra.

Among many other events the festival has in store are:

A free street party March 17 at 5:45 p.m. in Diana Krall Plaza to mark the 50th anniversary of the Irish Rovers featuring a live feed of the sold-out Rovers' Port Theatre show, beer garden, musical entertainment, special VIP seating and a celebration of all things Irish.

During March Break, the band Speed Control offers a five-day rock & roll camp for ages 8-80 with a lunch time concert at the Port Theatre March 27.

March 28 is PirateFest Family FunDAY at Swy-A-Lana Lagoon with a pirate parade, pirate sing-a-long , treasure hunt and lunch at family rates. 

But, says Holmes, “Festival Nanaimo is more than just the arts. You can do it all - golf, hike, walk, cycle, run, attend the boat show, be a spectator at the CCAA Women's Basketball National Championships and the Provincial Masters Curling Championships and attend the opening of NS3's New Science Studio. Local hotels are offering special rates and weekend packages and your favourite restaurants will be offering special menus.”

Check out for details, new events or to buy tickets and festival passes. Festival Brochure is available in Nanaimo Magazine. To get involved with Festival Nanaimo through sponsorship70s, donations or to volunteer, go to the website or call 250-754-0177.


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