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‘Remarkable’: Ignite the Arts brings record crowds to Penticton

Weekend-long event features more than 100 acts at 10 different venues
The performers of Kinshara Entertainment lit up the night to kick off the third annual Ignite the Arts Festival in Penticton. (Brennan Phillips - Western News)

In early March 2022, when Ignite the Arts was nothing more than an ambitious idea, Paul Crawford said Penticton could one day be the “cultural capital of B.C.”

Two years later, the longtime Penticton Art Gallery curator says the South Okanagan community is way ahead of schedule when it comes to making that dream a reality.

That’s due in part to the “remarkable” third annual Ignite the Arts Festival, which drew record crowds across the city’s downtown core from March 29-31.

“It was a wonderful celebration of culture,” Crawford said, adding around 1,700 attended the festival on each day, from Friday to Sunday.

The weekend featured more than 100 acts across 10 different venues.

That’s up from the 70 performers who appeared at the event in 2023, with acts taking their respective stage after the well-attended “Parade For No Reason” on Friday evening, March 29.

“The parade is a symbol of pride and joy, as well as a vehicle for inclusion and self-expression,” Crawford said. “It’s about kicking off the weekend and coming together as a community.”

READ ALSO: Penticton Ignites the Arts in style with huge parade

Crawford praised the hundreds of artists and thousands of the festival’s attendees for bringing “vibrancy” to Penticton during its shoulder season.

There was something for everyone, he said, and even things some people may never see again.

“Every stage was pretty much full with unique performers from across the province,” said the gallery’s curator, who also helped organize a similar festival in the B.C. community of Wells in the early 2000s.

At any given hour during this year’s Ignite the Arts Festival, attendees had no shortage of options for things to do and performances to see.

From folk metal bands to “Funkin’ Rockin’ Jazz” and songwriting sessions for children, entertainment was always at the forefront from 11 a.m. to midnight every day.

Crawford says he wasn’t surprised to see so many artists eager to be part of the Penticton-based festival.

“It’s amazing to create something that people want to be a part of,” he said. “To me, that’s the hallmark of a successful event.”

The festival has also proved to be an economic boom for Penticton over the last few years.

With a spike in hotel bookings and record number of accommodations provided to travelling artists, Crawford says he looks forward to sharing more details in the coming weeks on the festival’s economic benefit to the community, once final numbers are tallied.

“This year, I really felt things came together,” he said. “I think a greater portion of the community is starting to understand what we’re doing and I hope that it only grows from here.”

About the Author: Logan Lockhart

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