Harrison Festival of the Arts
In 2018 the Harrison Festival of the Arts took place during the week of July 6-15. The festival’s dates in 2019 will likely be around the same.
For 40 years Harrison Hot Springs has been celebrating this fabulous family-friendly event each summer with both national and international artists.
At the festival there is live music of all kinds, visual arts displays, an art market, art workshops and an evening of live theatre. There is also a special day for children.
Many of the activities at the Harrison Festival of the Arts are free or by donation, while others are ticketed. Concerts take place outdoors by the waterfront and each evening there is a live performance of some kind at the Harrison Memorial Hall which is located at 290 Esplanade Avenue.
Festival Ticket Information
The waterfront art market at the Harrison Festival of the Arts is free and concerts on the outdoor stage are almost free – attendance requires the purchase of a Festival Button for a “donation” of at least $2. Other events and activities cost more.
For some of the indoor concerts individual tickets start at about $27 for adults and $25 for students and seniors. The one evening of live theatre and the Literary Café both cost about $15.
TIP: If you plan to attend all or at least most of the shows at the Memorial Hall, with one taking place each evening, then buy a Full Festival Pass which gives you access to all nine performances. Full Festival Passes cost about $160 for adults depending on how far in advance you make your purchase.
Arts Festival Venues
The Harrison Festival of the Arts takes place in Harrison Hot Springs which is a beautiful lakeside resort town a couple of hours east of Vancouver in the Fraser Valley. Harrison Hot Springs is a small place with natural hot springs, restaurants, hotels and magnificent views of the mountains and stunning Harrison Lake.
At the festival the outdoor concerts take place in the park between the main boulevard and the lake, as does the art market a little further down the way. Workshops are at the Memorial Hall at 290 Esplanade Avenue during the day, and ticketed shows are at the same location each evening.
The festival’s art exhibition takes place at the Ranger Station Art Gallery at 98 Rockwell Drive.
Harrison Festival Activities
Events and activities at the Harrison Festival of the Arts include outdoor concerts, an art market, workshops, visual art exhibits, evening shows and a Children’s Day.
Music on the Beach
Between one and four concerts take place outdoors by the waterfront each day during the festival. Artists and times may change, but the plan is for an evening concert each weekday evening at 7 pm and three to four concerts in the afternoons on the Friday and both Saturdays and Sundays.
A Festival Button is required for admission to the Music on the Beach venue and the cost is a minimum $2 donation.
Different bands perform all different kinds of music genres.
Beach Stage Performances
Below is the schedule of live music performances on the beach in 2018 (for which admission costs the minimum $2 donation per day or $20 for the entire festival).
Saturday, July 7th, 2018
- 12 pm – Festival Opening ceremony
- 1 pm – A Familia Machado
- 2:20 pm – The Fretless
- 3:40 pm – Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards
- 5 pm – Tri-Continental
Sunday, July 8th, 2018
- 1 pm – Laura Cortese & The Dance Cards
- 2:20 pm – A Familia Machado
- 3:40 pm – The Fretless
- 5 pm – Leela Gilday Band Collaborative
Monday, July 9th, 2018
- 7 pm – Leela Gilday Band Collaborative
Tuesday, July 10th, 2018
- 7 pm – Ryan McNally
Wednesday, July 11th, 2018
- 7 pm – Irish Mythen
Thursday, July 12th, 2018
- 7 pm – Son de Madera
Friday, July 13th, 2018
- 2 pm – Illaria Graziano & Francesco Forni
- 3 pm – Lamia Yared et L’ensemble Zaman
- 7 pm – Cousin Harley
Saturday, July 14th, 2018
- 1 pm – Cassius Khan & Amika Kushwaha
- 2:20 pm – Réveillons
- 3:40 pm – Tim Williams
- 5 pm – Mazacote
Sunday, July 15th, 2018
- 1 pm – Breaking Boundaries
- 2:20 pm – Itamar Erez & Hamin Honari
- 3:40 pm – Réveillons
- 5 pm – Archie Roach
Waterfront Art Market
On both weekends of the festival there is an art market along the waterfront where local and other BC artists and artisans have all sorts of artwork for sale. Note: the market only takes place on the weekends – not weekdays.
On both Saturdays of the festival the market is usually open from 11 am until 6 pm and on the Sundays from 10 am until 5 pm. On the last Friday of the festival the market also typically runs from around noon until 7 pm.
Harrison Festival Workshops
There are a number of interesting workshops to choose from at the Harrison Festival of the Arts including Aboriginal drum making, dance lessons and yoga on the beach. Costs vary by workshop but range from a minimum $2 donation up to around $130 to make a large drum.
Click 2018 Workshops for the schedule of what happened and when last year.
Visual Art Exhibits
The visual art exhibits take place at the Ranger Station Art Gallery at 98 Rockwell Drive which is located at the far eastern end of the village a short walk from the water. Admission is by donation and the gallery’s hours during the festival are from 9 am to 5 pm each day.
Evening Shows in the Hall
Each evening there is a different ticketed performance at Harrison Memorial Hall. Shows usually take place at 8:30 pm each day except Sundays when they are at 7:30 pm.
Most performances are by live bands although on one evening there is a play instead.
A special kids-focused Children’s Day usually takes place on the Wednesday of the festival from 11 am to 4 pm both indoors and outdoors at Harrison Memorial Hall. Admission is about $6 and children under 4 years of age are free.
At the Children’s Day venue there are live performances by family-friendly entertainers and a wide range of activity stations featuring everything from drama opportunities to arts and crafts to puppetry and wall climbing.
Harrison Hot Springs is a beautiful town to visit in a stunning location any time of the year. When there’s a festival in town, however, it becomes even more interesting. The Harrison Festival of the Arts is one that’s definitely worth checking out.
TIP #1: Assuming good weather, weekends are when the festival is by far the most interesting (and crowded) because that’s when there are more outdoor concerts and the waterfront art market takes place.
TIP #2: Harrison Lake is stunning. Take your swimsuit, suntan lotion and boat if you have one, even if it’s just inflatable.
Boats of all kinds are also available for rent at Harrison Hot Springs, but you might want to reserve in advance if possible if wanting one during the festival, especially if going on a weekend.
Harrison also has a giant waterpark with inflatable slides and things to jump off out on the lake. Be warned – if your kids see it they’ll want to try it out. Also, unless you don’t mind really long lines, a sunny weekend when there’s a festival in town might not be the best time to try the bouncy water toys out.
For details see Harrison Waterpark.
For more information on the 9-day festival, visit the Harrison Festival of the Arts website.
For more information on the resort town and festivals there at other times of the year, click Harrison Hot Springs.
For a list of other events taking place in July visit Vancouver’s Monthly Calendar and for details on other major events at different times of the year see Vancouver’s Festivals & Events Calendar. Events you will find there include other free festivals like Carnaval del Sol in Vancouver and the Harmony Arts Festival in West Vancouver.