Okanagan Wine Festivals
Penticton and the Thompson-Okanagan region is wine country: Spring, Summer, Fall and Winter. Four wine festivals during the year mix wine tours, wine tasting and wine seminars with great entertainment and fabulous restaurant cuisine. wineries, restaurants and resorts tease drooling senses with tastes and aromas that come straight from the vine and stir the Soul. Buds come out in May at the Okanagan Spring Wine Festival and so do wine lovers who wish to celebrate over fine wine and culinary tours. Gourmet meals fill hungry bellies on a hot August week-end of arts, music and other activities at Silver Star Mountain Resort during the Okanagan Summer Wine Festival. Sipping a glass of Okanagan wine is just a divine way to celebrate grape harvest while enjoying the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival’s food and festive atmosphere. The Winter air is fresh high atop sunny peaks while the Icewine is crisp and refreshing at the annual Okanagan Icewine Festival that is full of eating, education and snowy recreation. Annual Wine Awards at both the Fall and Spring Okanagan Wine Festivals recognize Okanagan wineries and restaurants for their wines, labels and wine lists.
Okanagan Fest of Ale
Is there any sweeter pleasure than downing nice, cold ale and listening to toe-tapping, hand-clapping, live entertainment? Since 1995, the Okanagan Fest of Ale features the best suds from Brewpubs, micro-breweries and regional breweries in BC, western Canada and the northwestern US. For two days, the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre transforms into what must be the biggest and best Pub in BC. Don’t come here looking for wines: look for Pinot Noir, Chardonnay or Icewine at one of the Okanagan’s four wine festivals. During the Okanagan Fest of Ale’s two days, Pale Ale, Scotch Ale, and Stout Ale wet the whistles of beer lovers. The only cheese in sight tops pizza or pub food that beer drinkers can eat while sipping and sampling their favourite brew. Coffee is also served for those who must be responsible and stay sober to ensure that everyone gets home safely to their home, hotel room or suite.
Okanagan International Children’s Festival
The only pleasure sweeter than picking Penticton’s fresh peaches is feeding the healthy emotional growth of a child. Since 2002, the Okanagan International Children’s Festival in Penticton has been helping grow the spirits of boy and girls of all ages. For three days in May, children may get their hands dirty in an exciting world of entertainment, games, arts, and science. Magic Mud sculpting, visiting the Instrument Petting Zoo or learning how to belly dance are just three ways for children and youth to get their creative juices flowing. Youthful energy is sure to be drained through laughter and dancing at live comedy and music performances. Kids will learn to juggle, stilt-walk or do other magic tricks at the Circus School in case they one day wish to join the circus.
Peach City Beach Cruise
The combination of Sun, the beach and a hot rod in mint condition makes a three-day May week-end in Penticton that much sweeter. The Peach City Beach Cruise brings hundreds of the finest hot rods, antiques and classic cars from all over Canada and the US to Penticton. These cars are parked not far from where another classic vehicle, the S.S. Sicamous sternwheeler boat, is docked at Okanagan Inland Marine Heritage Park. The rev of engines will fill the air as car after car parades down Penticton’s Main Street before parking on Lakeshore Drive by the beachfront. Wine and cars usually don’t mix, but, for a while at least, car buffs can lose their keys and take a tour of the Okanagan’s finest wineries. Car memorabilia auctions allow car lovers to buy and take home a piece of automobile history to remember the week-end by.
Penticton Peach Festival
Since 1947, Penticton has been celebrating the sweet pleasures of peach harvest season. It’s what can be made with a peach, not just the peach itself, that is celebrated under the hot Okanagan Sun for five days in August. Contestants step-up to the kitchen table and compete for the ‘best peach dessert’ and ‘best peach drink’ prizes. There are also a wide variety of other foods, arts, crafts and merchandise on display at the Penticton Peach Festival. Try as they might, hypnotists may work to place audiences in a trance and steal their peach coddler. Bands, dancers and other live entertainment provide more ways to celebrate one of the sweetest fruits on earth: the peach.
Pentastic Jazz Festival
Ears are treated to the sweet pleasures of high and low notes at the Pentastic Jazz Festival, held every week-end following Labour Day in Penticton. For three days, trumpets blare and saxophones wail as the sounds of New Orleans entertain music fans. Rhythmic punches and wining harmonies treat inner ears to a smorgasboard of Dixieland, traditional Cajun and other bands from Canada, the US and Europe. Nothing does the heart finer than a little jazzy tempo rushing through the veins and freeing up the mind. Since 1996, visitors to the Pentastic Jazz Festival have been tapping their toes and humming along to the sweet pleasures of Jazz.
Having over 100 types of wildlife habitat that are home to rare and endangered plant and animal life is something that should be celebrated. Every May long week-end, the Meadowlark Festival lets scientists, naturalists and nature-lovers enjoy the South Okanagan’s fragile environment. Tours on foot, bike, boat, canoe, and bus guide nature enthusiasts through art, marshland, rocky terrain, water, and grasslands to discover this area's unique ecosystems. These tours provide an appreciation for the unique wildlife, geology and culture of the Penticton-area with visits to the En'owkin Centre and other sites. At the end of a tour, visitors have the luxury of returning to a comfortable hotel room and enjoying a hearty restaurant meal while the South Okanagan's wildlife struggles to survive.
Okanagan Wine Festival Awards
Okanagan wineries showcase their best red, white, ice, and dessert wines in the Fall and Spring Okanagan Wine Festivals' wine judging competitions. Highly respected wine judges evaluate wines according to their taste and presentation; they also award restaurants that offer the best selection of wine to diners. Mission Hill Family Estate Winery and Tinhorn Creek Estate Winery have both won wine awards at the annual ‘Okanagan Fall Wine Festival Judging Awards’. The BC Wine Museum hosts the ‘BC Wine Label Awards’ every second year in association with the Okanagan Fall Wine Festival. In 2003, a winery destroyed during the Okanagan Mountain Park fires won an award for a wine label honouring firefighters. Mission Hill Family Estate Winery has also received an award in the annual Okanagan Spring Wine Festival’s ‘Best of Varietal Wine Awards’ competition.