Music on the Beach starts July 9 with groups like the Bhangra Beat Academy

Harrison Festival of the Arts showcases international music and art

After nearly four decades of providing culturally diverse art, the 38th annual Harrison Festival of the Arts is only days away.

After nearly four decades of providing the village of Harrison Hot Springs with international and culturally diverse art, the 38th annual Harrison Festival of the Arts is only days away.

Andy Hillhouse, artistic director with the Harrison Festival Society, described the nine day event as “multidisciplinary,” as it features a variety of events including theatre, a literary cafe, a visual arts show, an artisan market, a children’s day, and, of course, live music.

“The programming is largely roots and world music orientated,” he said. “We try to include a range of arts, although it is a music festival.”

This year the festival features arts from a variety of different cultures as usual, but with an added South Asian focus in the literary cafe.

“[The festival] has the culturally diverse programming that people are going to recognize,” Hillhouse said. “They’ll see Latin American music, European folk music, Indigenous music from various countries, a lot of different styles.”

Although this is the festival’s 38th year, Hillhouse explained that it hasn’t expanded significantly over the years.

“We don’t have room to grow to a 30,000 person audience because it’s not a gated festival,” he said. “It takes place in this small village with limited sites, and while that limits the growth to some extent, that’s what makes it great.”

Hillhouse finds that it’s the small community vibe of the festival that keeps people coming back.

“I think a lot of people come here for that feel,” he said. “There’s an incredible intimacy.”

While the size of the festival may have stayed the same, the variety in arts showcased has not.

“Artistically, it’s evolved,” Hillhouse said. “We try to get in really excellent quality international, national, and local performers.”

Although the festival has kept with its consistent theme of culturally diverse music over its 38 years, Hillhouse noted that there is a new theme with this year’s festival.

“This year there’s a focus on musicians, especially younger musicians, that are reinterpreting and reimagining traditional music in a contemporary world,” he said. “There’s quite a few artists with that orientation.”

While the concerts in the Harrison Memorial Hall are paid admission only, many of the festival’s events are free of charge to visitors, such as the artisan market and the live music on the beach.

Whether you’re into world music, or are just looking for something to do in the area, Hillhouse promised that the event is the perfect way to spend the weekend.

“Getting that chance to be outside in the summer by the lake and the beautiful scenery and hearing music, I can’t think of anything better myself,” he said.

The 38th annual Harrison Festival of the Arts takes place from July 9 to 17 in the village of Harrison Hot Springs. For tickets and more information visit harrisonfestival.com.