Vintage Celebrations & Local Festivals: Party Time in British Columbia


While temperatures may be on the decline in Canada’s westernmost province, don’t expect appetites for tasty exploration to cool. Here, every season is worthy of celebration, and there are plenty of festive gatherings to prove it. Just bring your sense of adventure — and your binoculars, too.

The 34th annual Fall Okanagan Wine Festival kicks things off in fine fashion October 3 – 13 with a deliciously diverse array of more than 120 wine, food, educational and arts-focused events that tip their hat to resident vintners, grape growers and, of course, palate-pleasing Okanagan chefs.

Here’s a taste: October 4 marks the alfresco Joy Road at Road 13 which showcases the great outdoors and Mother Nature’s bounty in equal measures — an easy task when Joy Road Catering serves a long-table menu that is local, seasonal and simply delicious, all matched with Road 13’s artisan wines. For a different kind of tipple, join Queen Bee (a.k.a. Judie Barta) for a sparkling cocktail reception and walking tour through Meadow Vista Honey Winery’s blackberry and edible flower farm, October 4; a lamb roast, paired with honey wines, follows in the new Modern Mead Hall. On October 9, watch the next generation of Young Chefs as they get cheesy; during this crowd-pleasing event, participating chefs will be challenged to create a dish that best highlights cheese provided by Alexis de Portneuf from Quebec. You’ll join the judges at Kelowna’s Okanagan College as you vote for your favourite — a tough choice when each delectable plate is paired with a fine BC wine.

Keep the party going, and swirl, sip and spit (that last one is optional) at Whistler’s annual Cornucopia food + drink festival, an 11-day indulgence of local food and wine that partners white-hot, homegrown chefs with top BC producers, breweries, distilleries and wineries. Set for November 6 – 16, Cornucopia promises sensory overload with a jam-packed lineup of winery dinners, interactive seminars, gala tastings and don’t-put-that-picture-on-Facebook after-parties. Sure, you’ll raise a glass (or a few), but you’ll actually learn a thing or two from the best in the business. Need we say more?

On Vancouver Island, imbibing is best paired with oysters … and then some. Indeed, bivalve enthusiasts can slurp to their heart’s content during Tofino’s 18th annual Clayoquot Oyster Festival, November 14 – 15, a kick-up-your-heels gathering that marks Clayoquot Sound’s annual oyster harvest. These gems are plumpest at this time of year, and that salty fact provides all the incentive required to throw a costume party, host oyster farm tours and roll out the red carpet during restaurant shin-digs. Capped by a gala event, the four-day fest will see plenty of oyster action, as more than 8,000 of these beauties are shucked, diced, primped, plumped or simply slurped from their shell.

Photo by Bonnie Donovan