North America’s Biggest Bhangra Fest Comes to Vancouver

Photo credit: Brendan | Flickr

Photo credit: Brendan | Flickr

Ready to bhangra?

The dance and music style from the Punjab region of India and Pakistan is about to take over Vancouver for the 10-day City of Bhangra Festival, May 29-June 7. The largest event of its kind in North America, the event highlights the infectious rhythms, elaborate and colourful costumes and sultry choreography of bhangra, both traditional forms and creative new interpretations.

Here’s a peek at what’s on tap:

May 29: Transfusion – Experience First Nations, Jewish, Hip-Hop, and Garba dancers creating intercultural mash-ups by blending bhangra moves and music with their own indigenous folk traditions. Thursday, May 29 at 8 p.m.; Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre at SFU Woodwards (149 W. Hastings); $10.  

May 30: Media Arts MehfilTraditionally, “mehfil” refers to an evening of entertainment in an intimate setting. A twist on the traditional mehfil style, this gathering brings together gifted musicians for playful improvisation. The result is a unique and mesmerizing mosaic of North Indian classical, progressive rock , jazz, funk, Punjabi folk and Caribbean groove. Friday, May 30 at 7 p.m.; Surrey City Hall (13450 104 Avenue); $20.

SaieenZahoor 300dpiMay 31: EKTA featuring Saieen Zahoor – This is the first Vancouver headlining appearance for Zahoor, a performer and Sufi mystic from Pakistan, winner of a BBC Voice of the Year Award.  The singer and multi-instrumentalist had performed mainly in shrines, tombs and on the streets of Pakistan, until his discovery in 2006.  Saturday, May 31 at 8 p.m.; Vogue Theatre; tickets from $25.


Quratulain-Balouch-at-Kuch-Khaas-5-Nov-2011-7June 3: Bhangra on Main – Join female Pakistani artist Qurat-ul-Ain Balouch (aka “QB”) and her band at Fox Cabaret (the former adult theatre on Main Street) for an intimate acoustic set highlighting Punjabi folk and popular music.  Expect soaring vocals and a unique fusion of contemporary and traditional music.  Tuesday, June 3 at 8 p.m.; Fox Cabaret; tickets from $35. 

June 6-7: Downtown Bhangra – The biggest and highest-profile event of the festival, Downtown Bhangra features hundreds of local and international dancers and dozens of musicians – joined by thousands of attendees – at the Vancouver Art Gallery grounds.  The free, two-day event showcases everything from traditional, tightly choreographed bhangra dance routines to modern, hip-hop and electronic takes on bhangra music. Friday, June 6 from 5-10 p.m. and Saturday, June 7 from noon-10 p.m.; Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza; free.  

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