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Everything you need to know for an art-filled fall escape to the Sunshine Coast

The Sunshine Coast is awe-inspiring any time of year but Art Crawl is a great time to experience the region

B.C.'s Sunshine Coast is awe-inspiring any time of year, but a visit during its popular annual Art Crawl is an incredible way to experience the region.

Taking place October 20 to 22, 2023, artists of all kinds will have their studios open for tours, with special events, workshops, and unique hands-on opportunities for visitors that make for an immersive and enjoyable experience. Over the course of the Art Crawl's three-day run, the Sunshine Coast transforms into one big, interactive DIY art show. 

Whether you are stepping down a cliff-side meandering path into an artist's private in-home studio or watching traditional cedar basket weaving or intricate beading, the Art Crawl brings the world of art to life in an approachable and accessible way, and you can cover a lot of ground while going at your own pace.

Sunshine Coast's 2023 Art Crawl will be the biggest yet

The 2023 Art Crawl has shaped up to be the biggest to date, featuring 260 artists at 188 venues from Langdale to Earls Cove. 

One of the Art Crawl's most exciting offerings is its line-up of demos, which include the chance to see art created in various mediums, from live painting to bean-to-bar chocolate making or textile arts. Witness an exciting Paint Battle on Friday night at the Kube Gallery in Gibsons, or watch a fashion show Saturday night in Sechelt.

Among the artists hosting demos is Sarita Moodie of Wolfpups in Roberts Creek, who will again offer a weekend of engaging activities (for a fee). Last year's fun options were indigo dye, linocut, and screen printing; details of Moodie's plans for 2023 will be shared soon. At Paintillio in Sechelt, you can help with their paint-by-numbers project again this year.  Paintillio makes incredible paint-by-numbers kits, and for Art Crawl they set up a huge canvas for visitors to pitch in and paint. Odds are high the biz will have guests working on the same mural that began last October, so please forgive any spots my son and I painted out of the lines. 

During Art Crawl, visitors can head to home studios, or unique venues, for example, the Sunshine Coast Spinners and Weavers are showing at a car dealership in Wilson Creek. There will be a fundraiser for the Sechelt Hospital Foundation with the work of 36 local artists at the Sunshine Coast Botanical Gardens, and even a gathering of five local farm folk held at Moongate Farms in Roberts Creek.

Often, the artists are grouped in neighbourhood "clusters," like the "Henderson Hot Spot" or the "Heart of the Creek" zones in Roberts Creek. Particularly of note this year is the West Sechelt area, which has several new venues taking part in Art Crawl.

Whether you enjoy ceramics, sculpture, photography, or painted landscapes - or just about any other art imaginable - there is something for everyone during Art Crawl. Since you're on the Sunshine Coast, you can easily work in leisurely strolls along the region's stunning rocky beaches, hikes in verdant forests or visits to a number of spots that will help you better get to know the area.

Explore the Sunshine Coast: Beyond Art Crawl

Check out the Sunshine Coast Museum & Archives in Gibsons to see all sorts of photos, documents, and ephemera from yesteryear offering an in-depth look at the area's recent and ancient history. Upstairs at the Gibsons Public Market is the small but mighty Nicholas Sonntag Marine Education Centre, which is packed with sea life, including a few creatures you can get up close with. Nose through the stacks of books and records at Reasons to Live in Gibsons or take a hike to check out a waterfall near Roberts Creek.

The Sunshine Coast boasts several things to do no matter your interests, whether you crave a spa day or the opportunity to learn more about the region's Indigenous culture.

The food scene on the Sunshine Coast is ever-expanding, leaving visitors and lucky locals with so many fantastic choices for places to eat and drink. Be sure to catch some true Sunshine Coast vibes at local legend Beachcomber Coffee, and book a table at the exciting Brassica restaurant in Gibsons, which is one of this year's esteemed finalists for the annual Canada's Best New Restaurant Awards. There are also some wonderful breweries and cideries in the region to visit, like Persephone and Sunday Cider, which are immersive destinations themselves. 

Planning your visit

The Art Crawl covers a wide territory, with events from the southern tip in Langdale to the northernmost point in Earls Cove; the drive from end to end will take you on average about 1 hour and 15 minutes on the Sunshine Coast Highway (BC-101). It's impossible to see and experience it all, so if it is your first time doing Art Crawl, you may wish to narrow down your visit to a smaller portion of the region; I concentrated on the southern section of the Sunshine Coast for my first visit, covering Langdale to Sechelt.

You can get to the Sunshine Coast by air or water (by ferry or private boat). BC Ferries sails from Horseshoe Bay in Metro Vancouver to Langdale; reservations for the 40-minute sailing are strongly recommended. Once you've arrived, you can get around by car, bike, or public transit (BC Transit serves the Sunshine Coast).

There are a number of options for accommodations, ranging from budget-friendly to luxury, including hotels, bed & breakfasts, campgrounds, RV parks, and vacation rentals. Be sure to study the Art Crawl map to determine where your base should be. If you are focusing on the south end of the Coast as I did, you may want to stay in Gibsons, which is divided into two general areas, the upper portion along the highway near major businesses, and the lower portion, near the shore and docks.

One affordable stay is Gibsons Garden Hotel, which is in Upper Gibsons, convenient to the highway, with an indoor pool and dry sauna, coffee and pastries in the lobby each morning, and a relaxing garden courtyard.

Visitors to the Sunshine Coast should take note that the region is under a water conservation order, which, in addition to its sustainability initiatives, means taking extra care to adhere to regulations around water usage. Be sure to check out the "Know Before You Go" details about visiting the Sunshine Coast ahead of your trip.

Thanks to Sunshine Coast Tourism and its partners for providing support for this story. All opinions and inclusions are those of the author and were not guided or influenced in any way. No business or representative was granted any previews of the story prior to publication.