Okanagan International Children’s Festival illuminates the stage for adults as well

Illumination is a fundraising gala for adults featuring an hour-long performance from children's festival headliners.

Okanagan International Children’s Festival is hosting Illumination

Okanagan International Children’s Festival is hosting Illumination

Despite its name, the Okanagan International Children’s Festival isn’t just for kids anymore.

The festival, which is back after being on hiatus for a year, takes place May 22 and 24 with a special evening planned for adults on the Friday. Illumination is a fundraising gala featuring an hour-long performance from headliners Fred Penner, circus comedian Kaput and dance and music group Aché Brazil.

“At the Children’s Festival we are always looking for an opportunity to do something out of the box and it is an opportunity to raise some money for the festival,” said executive director. “These performers are so amazing. Lots of these adults grew up knowing people like Fred Penner and have no problem singing along with his songs.”

The festival underwent changes last year and a loss of funding that left them with no choice but to take a one-year hiatus. Over its decade-long history, the festival has maintained balanced budgets through ticket sales, fundraising events and donor support.

Illumination is one idea the festival board came up with to incorporate a fundraiser while the event is underway.

The motto to educate, entertain and engage is just what the organizers hope to accomplish with the Friday evening show.

“Illuminate is a play on words to put a spotlight on our community about the needs of the children’s festival,” said Haynes.

Okanagan International Children’s Festival offers over 30 performances in three venues located around Okanagan Lake Park. Also included on the list of main stage performers are comedian puppeteers Monster Theatre, urban folk group Le Groupe Swing. On the open stage will be Jacky Essombe, Circus West, Penticton hip-hop dancer Jake Evans and more. Tickets for the three day festival already on sale online at www.okchildrensfest.com or can be purchased at their office located at Suite 202, 69 Nanaimo Ave. East.

One of the many activities the festival will have for children during the school program days on the Thursday and Friday will be to create paper lanterns that will then be used to light the way into Okanagan Lake Park for the Illumination event.

“We do have some other lanterns that can be bought at the event and all the money will go to the festival. While they come in there will be a whole bunch of fire dancers and jugglers and people entertaining them as they come in.

Gates for Illumination will open at 7 p.m. with the concert happening from 7:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. After, the biodegradable lanterns will be freed into the air at the centre of the park. Tickets for the event are $20.

Saturday will be Family Day at the festival with special pricing for entrance and children who attended with the school program will get free admission when they come back on Family Day wearing their wristbands. Haynes said sales for school program have been very strong and there are some shows already sold out.

“People are coming from all over and I think taking a year off was a good decision because people missed this festival and how much they want it back. We have had really good support and a great board that has positive energy,” said Haynes.

The Okanagan International Children’s Festival is still looking for more volunteers. Applications can be picked up at their office or on the website. For more information call 250-493-8800 or email info@okchildrensfest.org.

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