Lots in store at annual Harmony Arts Festival

Thousands will flock to West Van waterfront

Harmony Arts Festival, Aug. 1 to 10 on the West Vancouver waterfront. See harmonyarts.ca for a full schedule of events.

For nearly a quarter century, the annual Harmony Arts Festival has drawn thousands of people to West Vancouver for a community celebration of music, art and food.

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This year is no exception. From Aug. 1 to 10, the parks and streets along the waterfront will be teeming with live entertainment, culinary treats and artisanal offerings.

"It's a great way just to come and spend a summer day or evening with your neighbours and meet all your local artists and enjoy the live music," says Christie Rosta, special events and festivals manager at the District of West Vancouver, who has overseen the last three Harmony Arts events.

During this 24th edition, regular festival-goers may notice some new additions at Millennium Park.

"We are creating a new venue and it's the Park Royal Beachside Patio," Rosta says, explaining that the patio space along the pedestrian corridor of Argyle Avenue will host the Glowbal Group's Fish Shack and serve up beverages by House Wine. Next to the patio is the new Waterfront Lounge, a casual dining venue featuring food from Caffe Al Mercato.

This year's always-popular Art Market will feature 52 vendor booths lined up along Argyle Avenue between 14th and 17th streets. Among the juried exhibitors selling their wares are photographers, jewellers, textile artists, glass workers, painters, wood workers, potters and metal artists.

"Typically the Art Market has gone just on the weekends, and then we've closed mid-week, and by citizen and patron demand we are open all 10 days," Rosta says, explaining that mid-week, Aug. 5, 6 and 7, Argyle Avenue will play host to a new exhibit called the Art of Food, featuring chefs, food vendors, craft beer and wine.

"In that will be all sorts of amazing culinary delights to sample and try and explore."

Also on the food front is the third instalment of Best of the West, a ticketed food tasting event at Ambleside Pier that pits local restaurants and winery teams against one another.

Over in the Art Tent beside the Ferry Building Gallery, visitors can learn more about the artistic process or register for a hands-on class as part of the ArtSpeaks series. Among the presentations, Cori Creed will demonstrate oil painting on canvas, Squamish Nation wood carver Xwalacktun will create masks and Nancy Ruen-Fen will teach the basics of Chinese brush painting.

Of course, live music is an essential part of the Harmony Arts Festival and this year's schedule of events features 60 free concerts on two outdoor stages.

"We try to have a different lineup each year," Rosta says. "We also try to come up with bands that appeal to all ages and have a wide draw."

The Millennium Park stage will host a number of performances each day including evening headliners such as ABBA tribute band ABRA Cadabra, Peak Performance Project participant Shred Kelly and Vancouver folk band The Paperboys.

Meanwhile, the Lawson Park stage will host the likes of Andrew Allen, The Tourist Company, The Matinée and Bobby Bruce's Nearly Neil and the Solitary Band. On weekends, audiences can stay in Lawson Park after the concert to catch an outdoor movie.

Returning musical acts include The Boom Booms, who made their Harmony Arts debut in 2013, and the Dal Richards' Orchestra, back for yet another year as part of the Seniors' Series.

"It wouldn't be Harmony without Dal," Rosta says.

Last year's Harmony Arts Festival drew an estimated 120,000 people over the course of 10 days and Rosta is hopeful 2014 will be even bigger.

"It's just going to be an amazing, energetic, fun 10 days."

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