Walking around her little community of Ymir, Carla Stephenson radiates with civic pride.
She’s excited to show first time visitors the river that runs through the heart of town and an old mining site that was reclaimed as a frisbee golf course. Up the hill, she points out a beautiful church that’s been transformed into a private residence, and the old school house that was used as a set in The Tall Man movie and had its exterior paint scuffed off to make it appear more rustic.
“What’s not to love?” she beams.
This affection for their surroundings prompted Carla and her husband Shawn to create a festival that would bring new visitors into the town. Started last year as a single day event, The Tiny Lights festival has grown into a two-day celebration of music, art, theatre and history.
The event it modeled after the popular Artswells festival in Northern BC, where the couple has run a stage for the past decade. Before starting Tiny Lights, the couple invited 25 of their friends up to Artswells to learn how it’s run.
“Those people became our base of volunteers who helped us make the festival happen last year,” Carla explained.
Tiny Lights takes place in five intimate indoor venues around town, all within walking distance of each other. Camping is available for people who want to stay overnight and there’s talk of a shuttle running between Ymir and Nelson.
Because the venues are so small, many performers have multiple sets in different locations to give more people an opportunity to see them.
“We’ll have the schedules online soon, so people can plan out where they need to be to catch the performers they’re interested in seeing,” Carla said. “Venues will fill up, so we always encourage people to arrive a little early to make sure they get in.”
Some of the highlights from the weekend include music by Jaron Freeman Fox and the Opposite of Everything, Miami Device, Miss Quincy, and CR Avery. There will also be theatre, spoken word, dance, art, workshops and demos.
“It’s crazy how much is going on over the two days,” Carla said. “There’s stuff for families or there’s an adult-only stage — you can really design your own festival depending on your interests.”
The Tiny Lights Festival is June 15 and 16. The all-access adult pass is $75, while the all-access youth pass is $45. There are also day passes available for $40 for adults of $25 for youth. Physical tickets can be purchased at Booksmyth (338 Baker Street) in Nelson or at the Ymir General Store.
You can also buy tickets and see the full festival lineup at tinylightsfestival.com.