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…. is a time and place to grow new things. New experiences, new ideas, new conversations.

CULTIVATE: a NEW festival

Cultivate is a new festival, but grows from the seeds of the Gabriola Theatre Festival, which ran for 9 years, and the Gabriola Music Festival, which started in 2017. It’s the latest event from the Gabriola Arts Council, which began its life 21 years ago as “Festival Gabriola”.

Our dream for this festival is

Cultivating live performance

We believe in in-the-flesh and 3D! We believe that something special happens between performer and audience that just can’t be digitized. We carefully select diverse performances for Gabriola Island soil.

Cultivating community

Cultivate is where friends and families from Gabriola and away can share experiences of celebration, dance, art, and reflection.  It’s a place to connect, to hang out, and to play. We strive for a welcoming, inclusive space, with something for every age, and every economic circumstance.

Cultivating the commons

Along with other local events, Cultivate Theatre+Music+Art Festival supports the Gabriola Commons as an open, vibrant gathering place on our island. We believe that culture is something we create together and that we all can participate in.

Cultivating creativity

We think something amazing happens when we bring together music, theatre, and art to cross-pollinate and intertwine. We want to bring together Gabriola’s music and theatre communities with off-island guests for inspiration and connection.

Venue: The Gabriola Commons

The Gabriola Commons is a place where sustainability, community and agriculture meet, featuring 26 acres of peaceful rural landscapes and rich ecosystems with significant biodiversity.

The property includes connecting pathways, open vistas, meditative spaces, vibrant community gardens, learning and meeting facilities for the use and enjoyment of the public.

The Gabriola Commons is a unique and distinct property on Gabriola with zoning that recognizes and enshrines the vision and spirit of a “community commons”.

Cultivate will transform the Commons into a festive gathering ground. It will feature the Antony Holland Theatre Stage (across the street at Gabriola Elementary, to reduce sound crossover), the Garden Music Stage, by the main Commons garden, and the Goat Barn Stage. The Commons was originally a goat farm!

We’re grateful for the partnership with the Gabriola Commons, and support the vision of a world where we hold resources and culture in common. Please enjoy your time at this special place.

Getting to the Festival

The Gabriola Commons is located at 675 North Road on Gabriola Island, a 3-minute drive/ 20-minute walk from the Descanso Bay ferry terminal.

Gabriola is a 25-minute ferry ride from Nanaimo on Vancouver Island. You can also get here by float plane into Nanaimo Harbour or directly to Silva Bay on Gabriola. Besides coming to Cultivate, take time to explore all the treasures this island has to offer, including spectacular beaches, sublime forest trails, exciting artists’ studios and interesting shopping (featuring locally made products and much more!). Click here for more info. Click here for the ferry schedule.

Gabriola Commons



Gabriola Island

Cultivate doesn’t offer on-site camping or accommodations, but Gabriola Island has a variety of options for camping, b&bs, and hotels. Check out the options on this list.

If you’re booking at Descanso Bay Regional Park Campground, please make sure to tell them you are attending the Festival: a limited number of sites have been set aside for the Festival goers.


Gabriola is only a 20-minute ferry ride from downtown Nanaimo and some great accommodation options. You can enjoy a full day and evening at the Cultivate Festival and still make it back to the city to sleep. We offer a free shuttle to/from the festival, timed around each ferry arrival/departure.

These hotels are all within easy walking distance to the Nanaimo-to-Gabriola Ferry terminal:

Festival FAQ’s

What can I expect when I get there?
You can expect 3 stages: the Antony Holland Stage (on the grounds of Gabriola Elementary School), the Garden Mainstage (by the Commons house), and the Goat Barn Stage (in the goat barn – natch). You can expect the Family Zone by the Timberframe, with games, crafts, youth vendors, and more. You can expect roaming performers, workshops, morning movement, and much more. You can expect 40 vendors of all kinds in an Vendor Village. Bring cash! There’ll several eating options, from food trucks and a concession, and a Beer Garden.

You can expect a good time!

Where’s the schedule?
Click the link below for the Theatre and Music Schedule.

We’ll have an interactive schedule available in July, along with workshop and family zone schedules.

CULTIVATE – Theatre and Music Schedule

I live near the Commons. Will I be getting any sleep?
We want to be respectful of everyone who lives in earshot of the festival, and minimize our impact. We’ll be delivering a letter to each house within 750m of the venue in July, which will address any concerns you have about noise, traffic, and parking. Music will shut down at 12midnight. If you’d like more info, please contact
Can you pick me up and drop me off at the ferry?
We’ll have a free shuttle running regularly between Descanso Bay Campground, the ferry terminal, and the festival venue. Check back here in July for schedules. Gabriola also has public transportation: GERTIE bus

Inclusion Campaign


Please be a part of our Inclusion Campaign! The Gabriola Arts Council recognizes the importance of the arts in the community and in individual development.  It’s been proven that the arts not only stimulate community economic growth, but they can also improve quality of life.

The campaign is simple.  You let us know how much you would like to donate and we’ll make sure this credit gets into the hands of people who would not have otherwise been able to participate.



We want to make sure everyone can access our workshops and events.

If finances are an obstacle, you can apply for up to $55 to attend Cultivate Festival workshops or events. All applications are confidential.

We can’t guarantee you’ll receive what you asked for, but we’ll do our best. This is on a first-come, first-serve basis.

Send an email to with your name, how much you are applying for, and anything you’d like us to know about your situation.


A Commitment

“Reconciliation not only requires apologies, reparations, the relearning of Canada’s national history, and public commemoration, but also needs real social, political, and economic change … Canadians from all walks of life are responsible for taking action on reconciliation in concrete ways, working collaboratively with Aboriginal peoples. Reconciliation begins with each and every one of us.”

~ the truth and reconciliation commission of canada

Gabriola Arts Council is committed to promoting a deeper understanding of our true history, and supporting the path to a new relationship between Indigenous and settler peoples. We acknowledge our hosts, the Snuneymuxw First Nation, and recognize that we live and create on unceded Coast Salish territory. As part of GAC’s mandate, we support the resurgence of Indigenous culture and the work of Indigenous artists.

Gabriola Arts Council

Year Round Events

Gabriola Thanksgiving Studio Tour
Gabriola Thanksgiving Studio Tour
Gabriola Healing Power of Art

Support the Arts

Would you like to make a donation to the work of the Gabriola Arts Council? You can do it online or via CanadaHelps.

The Gabriola Arts Council is a registered charitable organization whose purposes are to support and encourage the development of and engagement with arts and culture on Gabriola Island. We gratefully acknowledges the generosity of all of our Sponsors, Funders and Supporters!

Please contact us for more information.