Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside’s Heart of the City Festival celebrates 18th season

Three Indigenous people walk up a spiral staircase beating traditional drums
Participants in "Hearts Beat," a musical exploration of the shared traditions of drums, dance and song between Indigenous and Irish cultures, that will take place on Nov. 7. Photo courtesy Heart of the City festival.
James Mainguy - CFRO - VancouverBC | 21-10-2021
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Founded in 2004, Vancouver's Heart of the City festival is celebrating its 18th anniversary.

This year’s theme, “Stories We Need to Hear,” refers to the Downtown Eastside, the stigma the community still faces, and the stories it, “needs to tell about its experience and individuals within the community...and we need to hear,” says Terry Hunter, artistic producer of the event.

More than 100 events are planned with more than 1,000 participants and most are free to attend. With the pandemic, many events can be either enjoyed in-person or online from the comfort of home. The introduction of online access last year had the unexpected result of opening the festival to a worldwide audience, with people as far afield as Europe tuning in.

Terry Hunter and Savannah Walling in a professional photo against a white background

Terry Hunter and Savannah Walling celebrate their 50 years of creative collaboration at this year festival. Photo courtesy of Heart of the City.

During the festival, co-founders of Vancouver Moving Theatre (1983) and Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival (2004) Hunter and his partner Savannah Walling will be celebrating their personal and professional 50 Years of Creative Collaboration with an online event.

“To go through our journey to talk, to show photos and share stories and memories of those’s been an incredible journey," Hunter said.

The Heart of the City Festival runs from Oct. 27 to Nov. 7. A complete guide to the events can be found at