It’s rare that we appreciate what we have while we have it, but Vancouver Mural Fest has always been one of those events that made me stop in my tracks as it was happening to say, “I’m so happy to be here.”

vancouver mural festPhoto: Gabriel Martins

The last time I had the pleasure of that out-of-body appreciation was back in 2019, wandering the alleyways of Mount Pleasant with a beer in hand (thank you for whatever madcap liquor license you granted the organizers that year, City of Van—I’m still baffled) and discovering new delights around every corner.

vancouver mural festPhoto: Gabriel MartinsI love the scavenger hunt experience of tracking down the newest murals in the ‘hood, but also the parts of the fest that I stumble upon in the process. Witnessing artists putting the finishing touches on their oversized masterpieces, stumbling across a mini dance party happening in the middle of a parking lot, catching a flamenco band in action, weaving past the lineups for fresh burritos from a gaggle of food trucks, shopping the tables of the mini art market, staring slack-jawed at the breakdancers doing their thing on 8th Ave: it’s always an afternoon where the city just feels so… city, you know? Vibrant! Alive! Cultured! Get me another beer!

vancouver mural fest 2022Artwork by Victoria Sieczka, LisaTaniguchi, and Otilia Sabina Spantulescu. Photo: Mavrenn David

Needless to say, I’m thrilled that Mural Fest is back with a vengeance August 4 to 14, 2022. This year, it’s an 11-day celebration (!) with daily block parties featuring 150-plus arts performers.

Of course, there are also more than 30 new murals to gawk at, spread across the city’s neighbourhoods: track ‘em down in Cambie Village, Strathcona, the West End, the River District… basically anywhere there was a blank wall before. (Download the app for the full map of artworks new and old.)

vancouver mural festPhoto: Gabriel Martins

The newly transformed City Centre Motel will act as the hub this year, with activations daily in the parking lot—here, you’ll find free all-ages entertainment, from drag shows to dance parties to kids games. It’s the perfect re-introduction of the building, given its recent transformation from accommodations to a collective of artist studios. (Sadly, though, this new identity is just temporary: the motel is slated for eventual development.)

vancouver mural festPhoto: Sabrina Miso Creative

The list of activities happening this August is too unwieldy to list here, but head to vanmuralfest.ca for the full rundown. I’ll see you there.