Here Comes Summer

Okanagan residents and tourists alike have lots to look forward to this summer, starting with two fabulous national days celebrating Canada.

Canada Day - Fete du Canada

On July 1, 1867, Canada became a new federation with its own constitution. Originally called Dominion Day, the July 1 holiday was officially renamed Canada Day in 1982. Canadians across the country will be out in droves to show their true colours in support of Canada’s 149 th birthday. In the North Okanagan Vernon volunteers are working on significant updates to the celebration in Polson Park. The cancellation of the firework display was a disappointment to many last year. Coming soon on 107.5 on KISS FM and the Vernon Morning Star, however, will be an announcement about this year’s display.

Armstrong plans an early start. On June 19, Countdown to Canada Day begins ten days of special events including scavenger hunts, music in the park, flat track racing at O’Keefe Ranch and a bike rodeo. Countdown will finish with an all day event at Memorial Park featuring cake, free swimming and live music.

Kelowna residents can choose from 50 activities taking place at Waterfront Park, Jim Stuart Park, Kerry Park and Prospera Place. Find the full schedule in late June at

Parks Canada is getting on board really early. As a way to mark the 150th anniversary of confederation, passes purchased for entry into national parks and historic sites will not expire until the end of 2017, making admission the coming year free for all.

Grab your red and white clothing, face paint, food and flags. It’s our day. Enjoy.

National Aboriginal Day

National Aboriginal Day, recognizing and celebrating the cultures and contributions of First Nations, Inuit and Metis peoples of Canada, was first celebrated in 1996 when it was proclaimed by then Governor General of Canada Romeo LeBlanc. June 21 was chosen for its cultural significance as the Summer Solstice, a day when many Aboriginal groups have traditionally celebrated their heritage.

This year National Aboriginal Day falls on Tuesday, June 21. Ki-Low- Na Friendship Society will host a celebration on Leon Avenue, in downtown Kelowna – right in front of the Friendship Centre. Musical entertainment, a mini pow-wow, face painting and crafts for children, as well as arts and crafts vendors.

“This year we are adding more participatory activities including a traditional stick game Lahal, and a collaborative canoe trip for 14 Aboriginal youth and elders co-hosted by KFS and the RCMP,” says Kaela Schill, KFS events assistant. “We will also feature an increased focus on promoting holistic wellness in the community, and an installation showcasing the history of the Okanagan people.”

The Friendship Society’s National Aboriginal Day (NAD) celebration is an important event in the Okanagan, an opportunity to create awareness of Aboriginal culture and history in the community. This event attracts 1500 to 1800 people of all ages. Attendees learn about Aboriginal culture through art, food, music and storytelling with a particular emphasis on family participation.

More than 50 volunteers of all nationalities will be on hand to support this vibrant and fun event. A registered charity, the Ki-Low- Na Friendship Society can issue tax receipts. For more news or to make a donation go to

Stand Up Paddle

Forget the AC, roll down your window, crank up some tunes by the Beach Boys, grab your bikini or those Polynesian print board shorts. The warm lakes and rivers of the Okanagan are the perfect place for some Stand Up paddle boarding summer fun.

While some form of stand up paddle boarding has been going on for centuries, it’s safe to say modern paddle boarding, Ku Hoe He’e Nalu, to stand, to paddle, to surf, a wave, began in Hawaii when surfers stood up on their boards to get a better view of the waves. Rated by some as the fastest growing watersport on the globe, Stand Up Paddle boarding is going strong in the Okanagan. Self-described as BC’s original paddle board and surf shop, Kalavida Surf Shop in Coldstream is Vernon’s go to destination for all things SUP. From kids programs to corporate retreats, services for expert paddlers to newbies struggling to balance on a board for the first time, they’ve got it covered.

Further south in Kelowna and Summerland, Okanagan Beach Rentals specializes in SUP and a variety of other human powered watercraft perfect for taking in the natural beauty of the Okanagan landscape. The dilemma? Whether to paddle, pedal or just play. Visit several times and try them all. They’ve got kayaks, canoes, aqua bikes, pedal boats and inflatable islands that seat up to 8 kids or 5 adults. Bring the whole gang.

Kayak Wine Tours

Care to take your wine tasting adventures to a new level? Water level that is. Discover for yourself why Readers Digest awarded this tour the #3 kayak experience in Canada. Glide along, slipping over the cool waters of Okanagan Lake during the two-hour paddling excursion as you learn more about the area and the local wine industry. You’ll witness wine country from an entirely different perspective. A shuttle will meet you at your paddling destination and continue the tour by taking you to sample fine wineries. Have fun dipping, sipping and sampling. Regular tours to Naramata depart from Marina Way Beach in downtown Penticton. Kayak wine tours to Summerland, Kelowna, Osoyoos, and OK Falls can be arranged upon request.

Silver Star Mountain Summers

Can’t stand the heat? Then get out of the valley. Just 21 km above Vernon, Silver Star Mountain Resort offers a host of summer fun in temperatures an average of 10 C cooler than in the valley. Rapidly on its way to becoming North America’s foremost mountain biking destination, the mountain boasts more than 50 km of downhill runs.

Silver Star’s XC trail network came on-line in 2013. Currently under expansion, a new 30 km loop will be added this summer to the existing 30 km network.

Good news for families. This year the new Parent Pass is being introduced. The ultimate in flexibility and convenience for parents and kids who love to ride, but don’t ride together as a family. Both parents can use the pass interchangeably – just not at the same time – all season long.

And that’s not all.

For some exercise and a wander through the mountain wildflowers there’s hiking and trail running. Not so energetic? Take the scenic SkyChair for the fabulous view of the Monashee Mountain range from the summit. Try out the Disc Golf, Gnome Roaming and Geocaching. Visit this year’s new exhibits at the Silver Star Museum or attend a mountain yoga class. Fun for all ages.

Summer Beach Reading

If all that activity sounds like too much, stash a few good books in your favourite tote, grab a chair, beach blanket, and umbrella and settle in for a good read. Here are a few suggestions from Shannon Linden. You can find her column LOL Ladies on Literature on page….. ??

What’s Shannon stashing in her beach bag? “In the Unlikely Event by Judy Blume is a perfect summer read,” says Shannon, “and Summer Sisters, also by Blume, is light, breezy, easy, fun…and sexy. Our book club is in love with Australian author Liane Moriarty. We’ve read Big Little Lies and will end our season with What Alice Forgot in June.” Look for Shannon’s review in the fall issue. And, if you love that one, Moriarty has a new one, Truly Madly Guilty, coming out in July.

Relax, breathe and read. Don’t forget the sunscreen.

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