Don’t Miss: 12 Events at This Year’s DTES Heart of the City Festival


The DTES Heart of the City Festival is all about promoting artists, presenting art forms and facilitating the development of culture from Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. With 100 events happening at over 40 locations throughout the area, there’s definitely something for everyone. Check out some of the events we’re looking forward to below and get a taste of everything the festival has to offer!

Photo: David Cooper.
Photo: David Cooper.

1. Festival Opening Ceremony: Join friends from the Downtown Eastside neighborhood and their special guests for this year’s Festival Opening Ceremony. The main feature will be the unveiling of the newly commissioned stage mural banner by award-winning Downtown Eastside artist Richard Tetrault.
Wednesday Oct 26, 2pm. Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Free.

2. Jam for Sam: Last November, the Downtown Eastside community lost the much beloved Carnegie Centre regular and music lover Sam Snobelen. In honor of Sam, the Festival invites music lovers to this evening of jazz, music improvisation and jamming featuring the Carnegie Jazz Band under the wonderful tutelage of multi-instrumentalist, composer and arranger Brad Muirhead.
Wednesday Oct 26, 7pm. Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Free.

Carnegie Jazz Band3. Realms of Refuge, An Evolving Gallery: Realms of Refuge is a two-week residency produced by Vancouver Moving Theatre and Jumblies Theatre (Toronto). Artists and community participants work together to create and animate miniature worlds. The public is invited to participate in a series of free events, including two Public Conversations: Being a Good Neighbor in the Downtown Eastside with Jean Swanson and Diane Wood; and Reconciliation and Cross-cultural Collaboration with Renae Morriseau and Rose Georgeson.
Wednesday Oct 19 to Saturday Oct 29. InterUrban Gallery, 1 E. Hastings (entrance on Carrall). Free.

4. Sneak Peek into Chinatown Walking Tour: Join hosts Judy Lam Maxwell and Steven Wong for a glimpse of Chinatown. The tour begins at a heritage restaurant space, climbs flights of stairs to a heritage clan association, explores a Chinese herbal medicine store and ends the walk at Modernize Tailors, the last Chinatown tailor shop celebrating 103 years in business.
Saturday Oct 29, 1pm. Meet at Sai Woo, 158 Pender. $10, pay what you can for local residents.

5. Hidden Stories: Theatre Terrific and Aboriginal Front Door present Hidden Stories, a gentle site-specific journey of song, dance, mask and music that tells a “hidden story that fully celebrates and embraces birth, eating, speaking, loving, dancing and death.” Directed by Susanna Uchatius with Bill Beauregard.
Saturday Oct 29, 1pm. Woodward’s Atrium, 111 W. Hastings. Free.

6. Metamorphose: Metamorphose is a community-engaged dance production by Karen Jamieson Dance and the Carnegie Dance Troupe. Metamorphose explores transformation, creation and imagination through dance.
Sunday Oct 30, 4pm. Djavad Mowafaghian World Art Centre, 149 W. Hastings. Free.

7. Barrio Flamenco: Flamenco for the People: Celebrate the spirit of the Downtown Eastside with an unforgettable evening of live flamenco music and dance! Hosted by flamenco dancer, singer and teacher Kelty McKerracher, Barrio Flamenco features the Downtown Eastside Flamencos along with some of the most compelling flamenco dancers, singers and musicians in the city. An annual blow-the-roof-off favorite. Ole!
Wednesday Nov 2, 7pm. Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Free.

Photo: M. Montgomery.
Photo: M. Montgomery.

8. Sharing Theatre, Sharing Culture: Join us for a conversation of how theatre contributes to the fabric of Vancouver’s Chinatown, where food and language intersect on Coast Salish territory. The evening begins with readings in English and Cantonese from Jovanni Sy’s play A Taste of Empire, translated into Cantonese by Derek Chan. Guests are Derek Chan, Bob Sung, Jovanni Sy and Andrea Yu. Hosted by Kathleen Flaherty.
Thursday Nov 3, 7pm. DTES Neighbourhood House, 573 E. Hastings. Free

9. Two evenings with Dalannah Gail Bowen – Women in the Round & Songs of Love: Downtown Eastside’s own award-winning Dalannah Gail Bowen has been music-making for over forty-five years, and has been an integral part of the DTES Heart of the City Festival since day one. The Festival has the honor of presenting Dalannah and her truly unique and powerful voice for two evenings of blues, jazz and gospel. On Nov 3rd, Women in the Round features Dalannah with Renae Morriseau and Sandy Scofield singing traditional and contemporary songs; and Songs of Love on Nov 4th explores the wonderful world of love songs, featuring Dalannah with Grammy-nominated pianist Michael Creber and drummer Chris Nordquist. Come to both evenings; not to be missed!
Thursday Nov 3, Women in the Round; Friday Nov 4, Songs of Love. Both shows at 7:30pm. InterUrban Gallery, 1 E. Hastings (entrance on Carrall). By donation

Photo: Tom Quirk.
Photo: Tom Quirk.

10. Aboriginal Voices: The Festival and the Vancouver Public Library are excited to present an afternoon with writers and elders Lee Maracle and Bev Sellars. Lee is a member of the Stó:l? Nation, author of numerous critically acclaimed literary works, and one of the first Indigenous female authors published in Canada. Bev was Chief of the Xat’sull (Soda Creek) First Nation in Williams Lake for over 20 years. Her book, They Called Me Number One, won the 2014 George Ryga Award for Social Awareness in Literature.
Friday Nov 4, 1:30pm. Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Free

11. Survivors Totem Pole: The Festival is honored to partner on the installation of the 27ft Survivors Totem Pole in Pigeon Park (Hastings and Carrall). In the words of pole carver Skundaal Bernie Williams (Haida/Coast Salish), this grass roots initiative led by Sacred Circle Society “honors the many people who have arrived and lived in the Downtown Eastside as survivors.” Skundaal is the only female apprentice of the renowned carver Bill Reid. The events of the day include a procession of the Survivors Pole from Main Street down Hastings to Pigeon Park followed by the ceremonial pole raising, arts and craft sales by local artists, and a celebration featuring local artists from diverse cultures.
Saturday Nov 5: 11am, Main & Hastings; 12:30pm Pole Raising Ceremony, 3pm Celebration. Pigeon Park (Carrall & E. Hastings). Free.

12. Ukrainian Hall Community Concert & Supper: The festival ends on a high note at the east-end’s historic Ukrainian Hall with lively music, invigorating dance and colorful costumes at Ukrainian Hall Community Concert & Supper. This annual favorite features the Barvinok Choir and the award-winning Dovbush Dancers. Immediately following the concert is the always-delicious traditional Ukrainian Supper.
Sunday Nov 6, Concert 3pm, Supper follows. Ukrainian Hall, 805 E. Pender. $25. For advance tickets contact 604-254-3436

Most events are free or by donation. Visit for full details. The festival runs from October 26 to Nov 6, 2016.