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Arts and Culture
The famous "Kootenay vibe" runs through the arts, heritage and people of our region. With more heritage buildings per capita than anywhere else in British Columbia, Nelson’s and Kaslo's culture can be seen in our historic and gorgeously-restored homes, shops and buildings.
Known as “The Queen City”, Nelson was, from the start, a centre for culture. It is highlighted as the "Number One Small Town Arts Community in Canada" by author John Villani, and is home to a large and diverse artisan community.
Two larger theatres, the Capitol Theatre and Civic Theatre, are both testaments to the long standing richness of our cultural heritage. Nearby, the Oxygen Arts Centre, a modern artist collective, hosts an artist-in-residence series as well as presentations series and book launches.
Nelson's vibrant local artist co-op, the Craft Connection, is housed in a downtown heritage building. And the state-of-the-art Touchstones Museum of Art and History is located in our original 1912 post office building—a gorgeous turreted stone structure, designed by the same architect who designed the parliament buildings in Victoria.
Other notable attractions include the large inventory of public art throughout Nelson, with sculptures, murals and art infrastructure created by both local and international artists; the self guided Heritage Walking Tour; attending Artwalk to experience the wonderful work of local visual artists; and strolling the streets of Nelson for a mural tour of new artwork from the Nelson Internation Mural Festival.
And to round it all off, an original streetcar, restored to its original glory, runs spring, summer and fall along Nelson's waterfront. There are many more arts-related organizations and artists in the region. Come explore our attractions!
Kaslo's rich history
Kaslo's Langham Cultural Centre is a remarkable building, not only in its structure but its generous hosting of literary, visual and performing arts events throughout the year. Its recent restoration won acknowledgement as one of British Columbia’s Best Buildings.
Kaslo also has a collection of art throughout the village, with new stores and artisan shops displaying their wares on Kaslo's vibrant streets. Many downtown heritage buildings have been lovingly restored.
And no mention of Kaslo can go without the SS Moyie, the oldest preserved sternwheeler in the world. It was restored to give visitors a feel for real life in the 1800s along the Kootenay and Columbia rivers.
Self-Guided Tour & Digital Map
Walk, bike, or drive a self-guided heritage tour in Nelson or Kaslo. Follow online with our digital map or pick up a printed brochure at the Kaslo Visitor Centre, Nelson Visitor Centre or Touchstones Nelson. Our digital map allows you to easily locate and learn about the many heritage and cultural locations in the Nelson and Kootenay Lake region.
The AFKO is a non-profit organization offering a variety of French-language services and organizes various of events celebrating French culture and language throughout the region.
- 807 Baker St, Nelson | 250-352-3516
Balfour & District Business & Historic Association
Balfour is a small but vibrant community, offering multitudes of opportunity for the avid hiker, biker, golfer, boater and fisherman. Fine-dining, great pub food and delicious baked goods will satisfy any craving.
A landmark, a historical building and a remarkable theatre to come relax and enjoy some live entertainment.
- 421 Victoria Street | 250-352-6363
Columbia Basin Culture Tour
Self-directed and free of charge, the culture tour is a great opportunity to meet people behind the scenes at galleries and museums, visit studios not normally open, shop for original art or fine crafts and experience special events planned only for this weekend.
Nelson District Arts Council
Gary Wooden Bowls
Gary McCandlish hand makes stunning wooden bowls from local wood in the Kootenay Lake region. There's not a better gift to take home after your vacation. Read about Gary's skills and valuable products.
- 250-229-5434 | firstname.lastname@example.org
- Highway 3A, Balfour
Nelson International Mural Festival
Increasing the cultural vibrancy of Nelson, BC by engaging local, national and international street artists, muralists, creators and arts lovers through large scale public artworks.
Nelson Overture Concert Society
Museum of Art and History
We run a sustainable museum, archives, art gallery and historical society that actively promotes, through exhibitions and programming.
- 502 Vernon Street, Nelson | 250-352-9813
West Kootenay Regional Arts Council
Provide training, consultation, communication, and coordination for arts in the West Kootenays.
- 250-352-2421 | #4 – 619B Front Street, Nelson