Home Culture in Vancouver Coastal First Nations Dance Festival

Coastal First Nations Dance Festival

Dancers of Damelahamid

A great time to visit UBC’s Museum of Anthropology in Vancouver is when it hosts the Dancers of Damelahamid and the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival.

It’s a cultural experience that’s highly recommended and you won’t want to miss!

Dancers of Damelahamid First Nations Dance Festival at MOA

The Dancers of Damelahamid First Nations Dance Festival takes place in the early spring each year and in 2018 it is during the week of February 27th to March 4th.

2018 marks the festival’s 11th season and it promises to be yet another remarkable series of cultural performances.

In addition to afternoon shows (which are included in the regular museum price of admission) there are also special evening performances, which not surprisingly usually sell out.

MOA at Coastal First Nations Dance Festival
Dancers of Damelahamid at the Museum of Anthropology

Festival Location

The Coastal First Nations Dance Festival takes place at the Museum of Anthropology which is located at 6393 NW Marine Drive on the University of British Columbia‘s campus.

The Dance Festival

The annual Coastal First Nations Dance Festival showcases Canadian Indigenous artists from BC, Western Canada and the Yukon, as well as out-of-country groups from places like Alaska, Hawaii and further abroad.

Highlights of the 2018 season include performances by the following artists:

  • Boyd Benjamin – “The Flying Gwitch’in Fiddler” from the Yukon
  • Stina Therese Lorås Hessaa – a Norwegian dancer and artist
  • Git Hayetsk and Git Hoan – performers from Alaska

Also, back for another year, are the following festival favourites:

  • Coast Salish Tsatsu Stalquayu – a 50-member and multi-generational group known as the Coastal Wolf Pack in English
  • The Haida Rainbow Creek Dancers
  • Peter Espiritu – from Hawaii’s Tau Dance Theater
  • Dancers of Damelahamid

2018 Performance Schedule

In 2018 the Coastal First Nations Dance Festival runs from Tuesday, February 27th, to Sunday, March 4th.

On the Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday there are daytime performances for local school groups. For the general public there are Signature Evening Performances on the Friday and Saturday nights, and Festival Stage events on the Saturday and Sunday afternoons.

MOA First Nations Dancer Masks

Signature Evening Performances

Signature Evening Performances most years take place on Friday and Saturday at 7:30 pm with the doors opening at 7 o’clock.

Tickets for the Signature Evening Performances are $30 for adults and $25 for students, seniors and museum members.

Advanced tickets are available through TicketsTonight, although service charges that way do apply.

Performances on the Friday evening in 2018 include the following:

  • Welcome to Territory by Elder Larry Grant (Musqueam)
  • Yisya’winuxw (Kwakwaka’wakw)
  • Dancers of Damelahamid
  • Peter Rockford Espiritu (Hawaii)
  • Rainbow Creek Dancers (Haida)

Performances on the Saturday evening include the following:

  • Welcome to Territory by Elder Shane Point (Musqueam)
  • Boyd Benjamin (Gwitch’in)
  • Dancers of Damelahamid
  • Stina Hessaa (Sami)
  • Git Hoan (Tsimshian)
Dancers of Damelahamid Performance
Dancers of Damelahamid

2018 Festival Stage Performances

Festival Stage shows take place in the afternoon of the Saturday and Sunday. In 2018 they include the performances and times listed below and the entrance is free with general admission to the museum.

Saturday (March 3) Performances

  • 12 pm – with Tluu Xaadaa Naay (Haida) and Dakhká Khwáan (Inland Tlingit)
  • 1:30 pm – with Lax Kxeen (Tsimshian), Stina Hessa (Sami) and Kwhlii Gibaygum (Nisga’a)
  • 3:00 pm – with Yisya’winuxw (Kwakwaka’wakw) and Git Hoan (Tsimshian)

Sunday (March 4) Performances

  • 12 pm – with Tsatsu Stalquayu (Musqueam) and Dakhká Khwáan (Inland Tlingit)
  • 1:30 pm – with Haida Jaadaa (Haida), Boyd Benjamin (Gwitch’in) and Spakwus Slolem (Squamish)
  • 3:00 pm – Git Hayetsk (Nisga’a/Tsimshian) and Chinook Song Catchers (Squamish)


First Nation Dancer with Totem

Tips and Advice

Below are some suggestions to help you make the most out of your experience at the dance festival.

  • TIP #1: The Coastal First Nations Dance Festival is a popular event. If you go to a free show, arrive early to make sure you can get in. Also, for all shows, arrive early to find a good seat.
  • TIP #2: Book your seats to the ticketed evening shows well in advance as they almost always sell out.
  • TIP #3: Admission to the Museum of Anthropology is free during the day-time performances for people of First Nations decent on the Saturday and Sunday.
  • TIP #4: Don’t forget your camera! The costumes and dancing are impressive!
  • TIP #5: If you plan to be at the Museum of Anthropology for one of the afternoon shows during the festival, it’s good to know that the nearby Japanese-styled Nitobe Memorial Garden is open by donation until mid-March, as is the UBC Botanical Garden which is also on campus but a bit further away. Early spring isn’t the most beautiful time of year for either garden, but when admission is by donation the price is right!

Dakhka Khwaan First Nation Dancer

Other Information

Click First Nations Dance Festival at MOA for more information on the event.

Click Museum of Anthropology for more details about the venue.

For information on similar events, check out First Nations Culture in the Lower Mainland or Vancouver’s Festivals & Events Calendar.

For more on the museum, check out the UBC Museum of Anthropology.


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.