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The annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival is one of the Point Grey's best-known and most popular summer events.

Vancouver’s Westside abounds with summer festivals

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My love affair with Vancouver probably began the night I stopped in Michael Thompson’s old bookshop on West 10th Avenue in Point Grey.

I was in the city for a conference and was staying in the Gage residence at UBC. But besides other conference participants, the residence lobby would fill each night with musicians toting eclectic and exotic instruments. Guitars, bagpipes, bodhran and other percussion instruments would raise a holy racket as a musical jam erupted.

Back at the bookshop, Thompson was keen to close up because the musicians that I had been seeing each night were about to take the stage down at Jericho Park for the Vancouver Folk Music Festival. If I wasn’t going to buy anything from his stunning selection of poetry, he wanted to lock up shop and take in the music. I quickly learned how important the folk fest was to the locals of Point Grey, and the city. (What other festival has a site that simply declares itself, “The Festival”?)

A community event in Vancouver Westside

The music broke out again this weekend, featuring local fave Geoff Berner and legend Bruce Cockburn, and attracting hundreds to the shores of English Bay. The streets surrounding the park were filled with music, for better or worse, making it a genuine community event. I retreated to one of my favourite escapes on Friday night, taking a book and grabbing a seat under the trees of Westmount Park while music from the festival’s main stage rolled up the hill. The best things in life really are free!

The festival is one of several on Vancouver’s Westside, following the recent Khatsalano Festival of arts and culture on West 4th and the upcoming series of concerts on the UBC campus organized by Early Music Vancouver as part of its summer festival (it might not be free, but the music is priceless).

Vancouver Westside is a cultured place

A love of music, and the arts as a whole, helps make Vancouver’s Westside a vibrant place. The events don’t end with summer. Venues such as the Chan Centre for the Performing Arts and St James Community Square provide space for drama, concerts and other performances throughout the year, as well as opportunities to acquire skills yourself.

Buying a slice of Vancouver Westside real estate gives you a stake in a community that appreciates culture. Sure, tastes vary, but there’s plenty on offer in both the headline events and on the sidelines to help you find a niche. Attend one event, and the rest of the arts scene in the Lower Mainland will start to open up.

My initial experience of the folk festival led me to explore the rest of Point Grey, with its dancing groups and open mike nights. There’s plenty on offer beyond the Westside, but there’s no better place to start than close to home.

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