WildWings Nature & Arts Festival
Bridging Nature with arts and culture
Welcome to WildWings 2021!
The WildWings Nature & Arts Festival (WNAF) is an annual series of community events that coincide with the Cowichan Valley’s late fall arrival of the iconic Trumpeter Swans, North America’s largest waterfowl. Established in 2009 by the Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society, the purpose of the Festival is to bring attention to the important natural ecosystems of the Cowichan Valley by using nature as a background to celebrate the interconnectedness of nature, art, culture, and community.
This year’s festival begins Wednesday October 7, with the WNAF 2021 Launch party & WildWings Nature Artists Exhibition opening reception held together at Just Jakes Restaurant, one of WildWings major sponsors. The launch and reception will feature music by John Wade’s WildWings jazz trio, tasty Wild Bits by Jakes’ chefs and tasting of the 12th annual Craig Street Brew Pub’s WildWings Ale.
The launch is followed by art, nature and cultural events that take place throughout the month of October, with outdoor activities mostly happening in the earlier part of the month when the weather is friendly, and indoor events mostly filling the second half of the month.
Cowichan Tribes, one of our WildWings partners, provide cultural guidance and leadership for all our indigenous events and activities including: Medicinal Plant Walk, a learning walk with a Cowichan elder ; Traditional Pik’wun, a salmon BBQ the old way on the shores of Cowichan Bay; and Traditional Paths and Future Ways, an introduction to Quw’utsun culture and history. Quw’utsun people lead all our indigenous activities and are also involved in many other WildWings events.
Outdoor events include: ‘Celebrate Somenos’ Family Day at the Somenos Marsh Open Air Classroom; ‘Afloat in a Boat’, a bring-your-own-boat guided tour of Somenos Lake; Koksilah Ancient Forest, a guided trek to a grove of old giants; and the second annual ‘S’amunu Make a Difference Day’, where volunteers remove garbage from S’amunu watershed streams. There are also some outdoor nature events that offer teachings about the cultural and natural uses of our natural systems. Many of the natural history activities are co-sponsored by our third Festival partner, the Cowichan Valley Naturalists.
For art lovers, there will be two concurrent art shows showing in downtown Duncan during WildWings month- the WildWings Nature Artists Exhibition which takes place at Just Jakes Restaurant, and The Nature of Cowichan Photo Contest being hosted by The Ainslie restaurant. To make these events available to a broader audience, a virtual gallery on the WildWings website will enable art lovers to experience both exhibitions from the comfort of their homes. Other art events include a series of art workshops hosted by our newest WildWings Festival partner, the Cowichan Valley Arts Council as well as a WildWeaving Workshop with Jan MacKirdy where participants learn to make baskets from invasive plant materials harvested from the S’amunu/Somenos Conservation Area.
The festival also hosts a number of unusual events such as; Fish Tales where a local distillery hosts a local fish expert for a night of tasting and fish tales; Give Where You Live, a Pacific Salmon Foundation presentation about estate planning and conservation support; and Green Drinks, hosted by the Green Drinks organizers, where people of the green ilk gather once a month to drink, meet & mingle.
The festival wraps at the end of October with two events, the Nature of Cowichan Photo Exhibition People’s Choice Awards night at the Ainslie Restaurant, and the ‘It Ain’t Easy Being Green Gala’ aka The ‘Green Gala” hosted at the Birds Eye Cove Farm with fine dining provided by the Farms Gate Catering crew. The evening will include; local wines, WildWings Ale, music by the WildWings Trio, the WildWings silent auction and announcement of the 2022 Artist of the Somenos.
The Somenos Marsh Wildlife Society is pleased to announce that Jennifer Hedge has been selected as the 2021 WildWings “Artist of the Somenos” (AotS). Jennifer’s WildWings artwork is now hanging in the Just Jakes WildWings Loft where you will find 10 original WildWings artworks from previous festivals, all commissioned by Just Jakes owners, Lance & Liz Steward.
Please note that all events above are in their early planning stages and unconfirmed at this time. Events will be posted on the events page when they are confirmed. Ticket sales open September 1, 2021. Details to follow. Thank you for your interest in WildWings.
Please note that all festival events will be subject to COVID-19 current conditions which could lead to a much smaller festival in number and size of activities.
To learn more about festival events, please visit the events page