Arts In Kelowna

Written for Kelowna Guide Magazine by Rhys Mahannah

Kelowna Art Community

Kelowna is known internationally for its stunning beaches, golf courses, and award-winning wineries. But for arts in Kelowna, Okanagan’s biggest city, was awarded the 2004 “Cultural Capital of Canada” title, has a burgeoning arts and culture scene featuring exhibits, lectures, incredible performances from some of the world’s top artists, and more.

Kelowna was not always a cultural hub. A stroll through the city’s growing Cultural District, located in the downtown core, hints at the area’s humbler—and literal—roots. On Ellis Street sits the Laurel Packinghouse, the oldest and largest standing fruit house of its kind in the province. The Laurel is now home to the BC Orchard Industry Museum and the BC Wine Museum, and remains a standing testament to a booming orchard industry that today remains one of the city’s economic drivers. Indeed, only blocks away is a modern showcase of the region’s fruit-bearing impact—the headquarters for Sun-Rype, a manufacturer and distributor of Okanagan fruit snacks and beverages that sees over $130 million revenue per year.

Arts in Kelowna re evident in Kelowna’s ArtWalk connects a thriving downtown Cultural District.  Joining galleries and theaters, this walkway pays tribute Kelowna’s history while being the main causeway for local festivals and events like the Life & Arts Festival.

But today, arts and culture define Kelowna more than ever: a UBC study revealed, in 2009, that Kelowna’s creative sector was responsible for 1199 direct jobs, generating $37.8 million in annual wages, and a total economic impact of $143.8 million. With boutique shops and cafes, galleries and museums, theatre and dance, Kelowna has tons to offer the creative aficionado.

To get started, take a tour of the Cultural District, a six-block area once the center of the Okanagan’s fruit-packing efforts. You’ll see sculptures, beaches, theatres, museums, art galleries and other important relics of Kelowna’s past and present. For a tour pamphlet with more information and the route, see
Art and culture lovers, see below for our suggested places to visit, both within and outside the Cultural District.

Live Entertainment Venues . . . and more

Those looking for a night on the town will find lots to choose from. The DunnEnzies Pizza, located on Lakeshore Road, offers live music some days. Or visit Blue Gator on Lawrence Avenue, which hosts as assortment of local gigs. Treat yourself to the pub scene, including the Grateful Fed, O’Flannigans, and Fernando’s on Bernard Avenue; Tonics Pub & Grill and The Train Station Pub on Ellis Street. Further east on Harvey Avenue is Dakoda’s Sports Bar & Grill, who feature a live professional comedian every weekend. If you’re going across the bridge, stop by West Kelowna’s Whiski-Jack’s Pub to see some live entertainment.

By Rhys Mahannah.

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