The Sunshine Coast is home to one of the highest per capita populations of artists and crafters in Canada. It’s this community of people who breathe new life and form into the Coast, and over three days in late October, you can experience it all during the art crawl.
The Sunshine Coast Art Crawl is a weekend-long event that sees hundreds of artists, along with studios, galleries and venues, scattered from Langdale to Earl’s Cove, open their doors to the public. The self-guided nature of the Art Crawl means you can pick and choose the places you want to visit, explore at your own pace, and stop for a bite to eat or happy hour at a brewery or cidery along the way. It’s also a scenic road trip in disguise — the Sunshine Coast Highway is a narrow ribbon of road that hugs the region’s 180-kilometre coastline and offers views at every turn.
We’ve put together this guide to help you experience the Sunshine Coast Art Crawl, from the best way to plan your crawl to where to eat, rest, and refuel in between.
How to Plan Your Art Crawl
This year, there are 164 venues featuring more than 250 artists participating in the Art Crawl. Unless you’re highly committed, it’s unlikely you’ll get to see them all. Our best advice? Pick a theme, community or event and plan your Art Crawl that way.
Plan In Advance
For a list of participating studios, galleries and venues, head to the Coast Cultural Alliance’s website. All listings are available online; you’ll find bios, links, images of their work, and even videos.
Plan Your Route By Community
Next, consider where you are coming from and how familiar you are with the Coast. If you’re travelling from central Vancouver Island by way of Powell River, it will make sense to plan your Art Crawl from Earl’s Cove heading south. If you’re coming by way of Vancouver, taking the ferry from Horseshoe Bay and then starting in Langdale will ensure you don’t miss a studio visit.
Each community offers a dizzying amount of studios and venues — you may want to break up your Art Crawl over the three days by a specific location, exploring a smaller section of the Coast over each day.
Plan Your Route By Theme
You can also plan your crawl by theme. If you’re into landscape art, consider identifying the studios and artists who specialize in that medium and planning your route around them. Prefer sculpture or glass blowing? Use the filter tool on the Coast Cultural Alliance’s website to narrow down the studios that pique your interest.
Bonus: the Friday night of the Art Crawl features fun reception parties; start your route with the drop-in parties that catch your eye, then plan the rest of your Art Crawl visit from there.
Download Your Art Crawl Printable Map & Brochure
Tours & Private Appointments
If you want to take the guesswork out of Art Crawling, a guided tour might be your best bet. Sunshine Coast Art Tours offers customizable art tours from the comfort of a 15-person Sprinter van (bonus: the high roof and open windows offer great sightseeing en route) and a knowledgeable, local guide and driver.
Where to Stay, Art-Edition
There are a ton of places to stay on the Sunshine Coast, from cozy cabins in the woods to beachside motels to quaint Airbnbs. But if you’re here for an art-filled weekend, why not stay at a place which keeps the art going? Philippe Sokazo is a contemporary artist whose bold vision extends to his Airbnb, located in Pender Harbour. Book a night’s stay and spend more time admiring the artist’s vibrant and colourful expression. Also in Pender Harbour is artist-designer Sabina Hill’s West Coast contemporary stay. She’s created an immersive experience where art, design, nature (and rest!) come together in a peaceful and elegant space. Fan of architecture? The Pointhouse Suites at Sargeant Bay’s Studio ISO is a cedar-clad, light-filled glass box surrounded by moss and filtered ocean views, all constructed from two shipping containers and situated in the forest of Halfmoon Bay.
To find other places to stay, or properties in close proximity to the galleries you plan to visit, click here.
Where to Eat & Drink, Art-Edition
Art Crawling takes work and there’s no better way to rest than to refuel with good food and drink. Here are a few local favourites, all of which offer their own artistic spin, to get you started.
The Gumboot Cafe, located in the heart of Roberts Creek, is a local favourite and not just for its freshly baked treats, sweets and homemade soups (made daily!) — this coffee shop also functions as an art gallery, featuring a rotating selection of local and British Columbia artists, who hang their art on the cafe’s white-washed walls. The Gumboot’s bright, airy and cozy space features a wood stove, vintage tables, and an outdoor patio space for those sunny fall days. Whether you pop in for a morning treat, or refuel for lunch, rest assured the Gumboot will serve as one of the many stops along your Art Crawl adventure.
Emmelle’s Market Bistro, a popular lunch spot, shares space in the Gibsons Public Market along with a catch-and-release aquarium and merchants selling all manner of delicious things, from a zero waste market to a fromagerie, fish market, bakery and more. Emmelle’s is located in the market’s main central atrium which features vaulted ceilings, huge windows, and an ever-changing display of art by local artists, all of which you can take in while seated at a table digging into a burger, sandwich, and other comfort classics.
If you’re craving a happy hour stop that’s just as colourful as the art you’re planning to see, then look no further than El Segundo, located along Cowrie Street in Sechelt. This tropical-infused cocktail lounge meets restaurant is decked out in plants, bright wallpaper and carefully curated retro kitsch touches, all of which add a vibrant and fun feel to the space. The cocktails are just as inventive and creative, from your classic margarita to whatever the bartender is whipping up that week.
Non-Art Crawl Activities
Know Before You Go: COVID-19 Protocols & Respectful Traveller Etiquette
All reception parties will adhere to the latest provincial health guidelines and require you to have a vaccine passport. Please follow and be respectful of each artist’s or gallery’s posted guidelines. Some studios may be open by appointment early. Make sure to check in advance.
Find more information on our Know Before You Go page.
Remember, that we’re all visitors on the traditional territories of the Tla’amin, Klahoose, shíshálh, and Skwxwú7mesh Nations. While exploring the Sunshine Coast, please remember to be safe, responsible, and respectful.