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Parksville’s Brant Wildlife Festival flies high for 33rd year!

Celebrate nature’s marvels on Vancouver Island from April 5 to 8

As the vibrant hues of spring begin to unfurl across Vancouver Island, the Mount Arrowsmith Biosphere Region (MABR) is a-flutter with anticipation for the annual Brant Wildlife Festival.

“The Brant Wildlife Festival is a bridge connecting people to the natural world,” shares Mandy Hobkirk, MABR Coordinator. In its 33rd year, and the first under the stewardship of MABR, the festival has evolved, yet its core mission remains – to foster a deep appreciation for our planet’s biological diversity, and especially that of Vancouver Island.

The wildlife’s core mission is to foster a deep appreciation for our planet’s biological diversity, and especially that of Vancouver Island. Photo courtesy of Angie Ooms.

The festival aims to connect community with the spectacular migratory return of thousands of Brant geese. Each spring, the Brant fly non-stop from Mexico to the Strait of Georgia where they have a short time to feed on eelgrass, green algae and herring roe to regain weight and strength before making another non-stop flight to the Alaska Peninsula and then on to their nesting grounds in Alaska, the Canadian Arctic, and beyond.

The festival, originating with Oceanside residents Neil Dawe and Bashir El-Khalafawi, has grown into a festival built around conservation and community engagement.

“It all started in a restaurant in Parksville, with a vision to bring people closer to nature,” Hobkirk says.

The Brant Wildlife Festival’s schedule is packed full of events, including the release of a rehabilitated eagle. Photo by Angie Ooms.

This year’s festival, taking place from April 5 to 8, promises a rich roster of events designed to make nature accessible to all.

“We’ve condensed the festival to four days to make it more accessible for travellers and workers,” Hobkirk explains, highlighting a schedule packed with activities ranging from estuary and wetland tours to bird identification classes and an even an eagle release.

“Our region is recognized for its high biodiversity and is considered an eco-crisis area by the Nature Conservacy of Canada,” Hobkirk notes, highlighting the urgent need for conservation efforts.

Last year, the festival welcomed over 3,000 attendees, a number they hope to match or surpass. With each year, the festival seeks to weave a closer bond between the community and the environment, integrating feedback and new ideas to keep the spirit of exploration and stewardship alive.


Looking ahead, Hobkirk is excited about the potential for growth and deeper community involvement. “We’re considering adding a speaker series next year, focusing on local research initiatives,” she shares.

What motivates the team at the Biosphere Region to take on such an expansive project? “Connecting people with nature and showcasing our work is at the heart of our mandate,” Hobkirk says.

As a UNESCO-designated Biosphere Reserve, MABR’s commitment to living in harmony with nature is exemplified through the Brant Wildlife Festival – a celebration, an opportunity for education and a call to action.

The festival is an invitation to all to witness the marvel of migration and the spawning of life anew. Join the Brant Wildlife Festival from April 5 to 8, for a celebration of the planet, wildlife and future. Visit Brant Wildlife Festival to learn more.