If you have never been to the Hornby Festival over the August long weekend, you are missing one of the Comox Valley’s summertime highlights.
The 10-day Hornby Island event is renowned as one of Canada’s top music festivals. Indeed, the world-class lineup this small gem of a gulf island is able to attract is impressive.
Not to mention the unbeatable locations of Olsen Farm — basking in the sunshine on the rolling fields looking out over the ocean and snow-capped mountains — and the charming Hornby Community Hall. Short performances happen throughout the days on the beaches, forest groves, and seaside bluffs around the island to add magic to this already-delightful festival.
The first five days at Olsen Farm are a folk/world music celebration. This year, the farm boasts names such as Grammy Award winner Alex Cuba, Latin dance band Los Pingous from Argentina, multiple Juno award-winner Ruth Moody of the Wailin’ Jennies, Juno Award winner and rising old-time banjo star Jayme Stone (Canada’s Bela Fleck).
True to tradition, the last night of the farm is a huge family fiddle dance under the maples featuring some of Canada’s fiddle music stars.
At the hall, the festival moves into the classical/jazz/tango portion of the program with piano virtuoso John Stetch, Jasper Wood and Arthur Rowe on violin and piano, an exquisite performance of Quartango, and an evening featuring Canadian rising stars the Emily Carr String Quartet.
It is rare to see some of these performers in such and intimate setting. These performances are preceded with pre-show chats by the artists to give you an in-depth knowledge of what you will hear in each evening.
Surrounding you in the hall will be art made especially for the festival by the Hornby Island school children. It will be a feast for the eyes and ears.
There will be two daytime children/family concerts with the Kerplunks and Professor Banjo. Governor General Award winner John Vaillant (author of the Golden Spruce) will read from his new book The Tiger.
The spectacular natural beauty and great swimming beaches that are the backdrop of this cultural island make Hornby a summer mecca for nature, beach and art lovers.
The island often sells out at festival time. Booking camping or rented accommodation is a must to attend the Hornby Festival, as the last ferry sails at 6 p.m. (10 p.m. on Fridays).
Go to www.hornbyfestival.bc.ca for full details on the festival from Aug. 2 to 11. Earlybird tickets are on sale until June 30 and are available online of by phone at 250-335-2715.
— Hornby Festival