Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside is considered by many the city’s founding neighbourhood. For more than 125 years, people have lived, loved and laughed on Downtown Eastside streets. In a city as new and changing as Vancouver, it’s a well of history and culture – even though it’s often dismissed as Vancouver’s poorest neighbourhood.
The annual Heart of the City Festival this Oct.24-Nov. 4 gives locals and visitors a chance to celebrate and explore the Downtown Eastside. Over the course of 12 days, the neighbourhood will host more than 80 cultural events: music, stories, poetry, art exhibits, films, theatre, history walks, workshops and more. Many of the events highlight local talent right from the neighbourhood itself.
Here are 5 can’t-miss free events at this year’s Heart of the City Fest:
- Barrio Flamenco, Flamenco for the People: Fiery flamenco music is a people’s art form – played and dance with as much spirit and passion as technical know-how. This event features some of the city’s best flamenco artists, celebrating the joy and struggles of the Downtown Eastside. Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Friday, Oct. 26, 7:30 p.m.
- Festival Art Stroll: This gallery crawl explores more than a half dozen community focused galleries in the Downtown Eastside. It kicks off with a sidewalk procession by the Hastings Street Band before traveling to Gallery Gachet for the Oppenheimer Park Community Art Show. Oppenheimer Park, 488 Powell. Friday, Oct. 26, Procession starts 5:30 p.m.
- Howling Comedy: The Downtown Eastside is home to a disproportionately high number of people with mental illness. This standup event featuring comics from Stand Up for Mental Health, as well as local comedians, explores and demystifies mental illness through the lens of comedy. Expect an evening of clowning and hijinks that celebrates the resilience of the neighbourhood. Gallery Gachet, 88 E. Cordova. Thursday, Oct. 25, 7 p.m.
- Film Talk – Bloodied but Unbowed: The local documentary film Bloodied but Unbowed chronicles the legendary Vancouver punk scene in the ’70s and early ’80s. After the screening, Joe Keithley – godfather of Vancouver punk and guitarist for local punk greats D.O.A. – will perform unplugged. Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Saturday, Oct. 27, Film 7:45 p.m., Performance 9 p.m.
- TinPin Chef – a cooking competition: This unique culinary contest highlights how challenging it can be to maintain a healthy diet on a limited income. Six chefs have only six hotplates to work with. Using three boxes of food from the community food bank, they have one hour to whip up something nutritious and delicious. Carnegie Theatre, 401 Main. Monday, Oct 29, 12:30 p.m.