Spring is in full swing, the weather is warming up and the city of Vancouver is buzzing with cultural events and festivals that are sure to delight and inspire you. May is the perfect time to explore the rich and diverse cultural scene of this amazing city. From theatre to dance, music to visual arts, there’s something for everyone. Discover the vibrant local arts scene by attending some of the gallery openings, art exhibitions and artist talks I’ve mentioned below. Or immerse yourself in the world of music and dance by attending one of the many festivals that are taking place throughout the month. Have a fantastic Mother’s Day, a relaxing Victoria Day weekend and a great month of May!
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Abraham Oghobase: Life of Mine
May 5–July 30
Across the globe, resource extraction has driven colonial agendas by transforming long-standing relationships to land, to labour, and to the body. The work of Nigerian-born artist Abraham O. Oghobase meditates on the legacies of mining across Africa, as well as the resulting displacements and migrations of people. His visual montages lift schematic diagrams of metal-refining processes from A Text-book of Rand Metallurgical Practice, a handbook published in 1912 that heavily informed early extractive industries in South Africa and elsewhere. Presenting these drawings outside of their original context, and super-imposing them upon images of his own body, Oghobase studies the mechanisms of colonial exploitation while also visually disassembling them. Check out the Polygon Gallery’s website for more information on this exhibit.
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May 11, 7 p.m.
Gabriel Kahane’s latest album Magnificent Bird chronicles the final month of a year spent off the internet. It’s filled with gorgeous and intimate musical snapshots that have been described by the San Francisco Chronicle as “glistening and magical.” Get lost in the moving songs of grief, nostalgia, shame and salvation. It’s a look into daily life amidst the chaos of the 21st century, a musical insight into the world today. For this Vancouver performance, the Capilano String Quartet joins Gabriel on the ANNEX stage. When Gabriel returns to Music on Main as Artist in Residence, it’s a rare chance to hear two amazing concerts: Book of Travelers (May 10) and Magnificent Bird both explore moments in life that are at times heart wrenching and full of hope.
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The Turning: Chor Leoni & The Leonids
May 11, 7:30 p.m.
The Leonids return to Vancouver with one of the most innovative, evocative and transformational musical events of the season. Performing independently as well as alongside Chor Leoni and its Emerging Choral Artist Program, these choral luminaries will take your breath away and touch your heart with their world-class voices and rich harmonies. Check out the Chor Leoni website for tickets and more information.
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May 13–July 23
Within the spun fibres of yarn, the warp and weft of a weaving, the blocks of a quilt and the bond of indigo dye to fabric, textiles hold boundless knowledge, transmitted over generations. The exhibited artists draw on complex histories and rich cultural and personal practices connected to textiles to build sculptural works that move away from the gallery wall. Their techniques span weaving, dyeing, knotting and casting, among other processes. The artworks, created from a variety of organic and manufactured materials – from animal fibres and plant material to wire, rubber silicone and plastic – fill the gallery from floor to ceiling. The works’ relation to the body, three-dimensional space and evolving technologies stitch together the varied artworks presented in Transmissions.
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Festival of Israeli Culture
May 14, 11 a.m.–5 p.m.
Join the community at the Jewish Community Centre of Greater Vancouver to celebrate Israeli Culture with Israeli food, music, art, wine tasting, cocktails and much more. Share in the vibrant traditions of Israel during the festival. For more information, check out the JCCGV website.
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The Cultch’s Youth Panel are thrilled to announce that this year’s IGNITE! Festival will be taking over The Cultch’s Historic Theatre – with youth-led programming and new work by local emerging playwrights and multidisciplinary artists – from May 17–20, 2023. IGNITE! is an eclectic festival, programmed and curated entirely by members of the Youth Panel at the Cultch. It features theatre performers, filmmakers, writers, poets, dancers, musicians, visual artists, drag performers and more – all aged 13–30 – as well as participants from the Cultch’s Youth Program Mentorship Programs. Celebrating its 21st Anniversary, the festival also includes the production of three One Act Plays by local emerging playwrights and a Visual Arts exhibition.
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Making Space: Asian Heritage Month
May 18, 6–8:30 p.m.
From 2020–2023, the Museum of Vancouver had the privilege of hosting the exhibition A Seat at the Table. Now travelling to Cumberland, B.C. and launching in summer 2023, this exhibition celebrates Chinese Canadian Heritage identities and experiences through the lens of food and restaurant culture. In this “Making Space” event, the Museum asks what they have learned from the exhibition, and how they can continue to work with Asian Canadian Communities in the future. In the context of curatorial practices and beyond, how can cultural institutions intentionally make space for the responsibilities and reciprocities of representation? Join them in learning from four individuals and activists who are working for their communities in mindful and intersectional ways through cultural food justice. For registration and more information, check out the museum’s website.
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Cloverdale: Rodeo & Country Fair
The Cloverdale Rodeo will host 96 of the world’s best cowboys and cowgirls in an unique Invitational Rodeo Format that ensures the sports premier athletes are showcased throughout five Rodeo performances. For 2023, the Cloverdale Invitational Rodeo will feature Roughstock Rodeo Events (Bareback, Saddle Bronc, Bull Riding) & Ladies Barrel Racing. Twenty-four rodeo contestants compete in each of the rodeo events. For a complete list of events and happenings at the fair, check out their website.
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Fort Langley’s 101st Annual May Day Parade
May 22, 8 a.m.–4 p.m.
The Fort Langley Lion’s are excited to host the May Day Parade followed by a Family Fun Festival in the Park. This free community event was established in 1922. It brings together local musical talent, community members & vendors to the Fort. Bring your lawn chairs, blankets, umbrellas (rain or shine) + good spirits to Fort Langley where you will enjoy all that their beautiful town and May Day parade have to offer. Check out their website for an events timeline and list of activities.
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May 24, 26, 31, June 1
Upintheair Theatre and Alley Theatre will present Catfish, happening on various dates between May 24 to June 1. Take the plunge into Michelle’s layers of lies as she misrepresents herself online and uses her hearing friend’s voice to entice the new guy at school. From the depths of her deception, Michelle must turn her search for love and acceptance inward. Join her in this vibrant and delightfully earnest exploration of identity and self-love.