The setting for the Bard on the Beach Festival is the fascinating Vanier Park, which is in the waterfront area of the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, where there are two performance tents for the occasion. Here you can take in Shakespearean plays and other dramatic performances during the summer months. The highlight of the festival is the performances that take place in the open-ended Mainstage tent, which can seat over 500, with the actors taking the stage against the backdrop of the beautiful outdoor scenery of British Columbia.
The first performance of the Bard of the Beach Shakespeare Festival took place in 1990 and the event has continued to grow and attract attention every year since. There are thirty professional actors on staff for each season, supported by a professional team of set designers, technicians and other staff. Volunteers provide the backbone of the festivals because without their efforts the festival would not be the success that it is.
The Festival started off with one performance venue – the Mainstage tent. This is the location for two major Shakespearean productions each year while the second performance venue, the Douglas Campbell Studio Stage is smaller and reserved for the lesser known performances of the Bard’s works.
There is more to the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival than just Shakespeare. The village, known as “Bard Village” also hosts operatic performances during the summer as well as workshops and forums for anyone who wishes to learn more about this greatest writer or performing on stage. There are concession stands where you can have a snack, a bar where you can enjoy a cool beverage and of course, for those who need their shopping fix, a boutique.
Tuesday evenings during the summer months in Vancouver have been nicknamed “Chatterbox Tuesdays” because it is on these days that you can preview the upcoming performances. You can gain a greater insight into the theme of the play and ask questions of the actors after the performance. You can take in a free lecture about Shakespeare’s life and times or pay a small admission fee to take in the “Exploring the Plays” feature on Sunday evenings. In this event, one play is featured each Sunday starting in late June and continuing for the month of July.
During June and September when school is in session, school groups can attend the Festival at discounted prices. All schools can participate in this venue by attending a matinee session in the afternoons. On four evenings of the season, there are large celebrations that include dinner during the intermission and a spectacular fireworks display to close off the evening. Take in a casual wine tasting event and sample the best wines from the Vancouver area.
Your visit to the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival will be so moving and memorable that you will want to make it an annual ritual.