Today, Early Bird tickets for the 2023 Okanagan Fest of Ale (OFOA) officially go on sale. This is significant to the BC beer enthusiast for a couple of reasons.
Firstly, OFOA—held in Penticton since 1996—has long been recognized around British Columbia and beyond as one of the best annual beer events in the Pacific Northwest. Secondly, the fact that an Early Bird offer even exists (and in time for the holidays, no less) marks a reassuring return to norm.
COVID’s effect has lasted longer than we often appreciate. For instance, even though Fest of Ale was held this past year, and it was a great success, it won’t be until next year in 2023 that OFOA truly returns to what we’ve been accustomed to for well over a quarter century.
In 2022, the 25th Fest Of Ale was held as a fully outdoor event for the first time. This was partly due to health concerns that lasted well into early Spring (remember?). Also, it was held in May, which is later in the Spring than OFOA normally is. Even so, there was very little time to get the event confirmed and sell tickets. Thankfully it all worked out quite well and people loved it.
However, it’s likely that last event will remain a one-off situation, because the 26th Fest of Ale will be returning during its traditional month of April. As well, for the first time since 2019, it will be held in its traditional venue, the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre (PTCC).
What’s Brewing was curious about the decision to move back indoors, so we connected with Simon St-Laurent, President of the Okanagan Fest of Ale Society for his perspective.
St-Laurent notes, “The 25th anniversary event was a smashing success. We are looking forward to returning home to the Penticton Trade and Convention Centre for our 26th edition to celebrate BC craft beer, cider and mead on April 14-15, 2023.”
He also pointed out that the return to April aligns with one of the pillars of OFOA’s mission statement, which is to schedule the festival in the shoulder season (ie, not the high tourism season) so as to encourage new and first-time visitors to experience renowned Okanagan hospitality.
St-Laurent explains, “The PTCC offers many advantages to our vendors, entertainers and craft beverage enthusiasts, namely the proximity of many amenities within our community, ample parking and safety for all.” He adds, “With the positive response from our attendees at the outdoor event last May, we are planning a hybrid model, where we will utilize both indoor and outdoor spaces offered at the PTCC. The unpredictability of Mother Nature is a major factor of our decision making, we were lucky last year with the window of nice weather, however April in the Okanagan can be risky.”
That sounds similar to how the previous format was set up prior to COVID, with food trucks and overflow beer tents in a special courtyard. Attendees enjoyed it in 2019, as evidenced by a few of the photos we captured in the Memories Gallery below.
PENTICTION: BEER COMMUNITY
What’s Brewing has editorialized many times on what a close-knit beer community Penticton is. The breweries operating there have consistently worked very well together. However, when you know Penticton, that’s not a surprise: the locals are some of the friendliest and most community-minded you will find.
As a result, one of the key aspects of OFOA is its charitable impact. No annual beer event in British Columbia can match the type of fundraising the Fest can pull off. St-Laurent confirms, “We have been able to donate over $750,000 dollars to community organizations over the years, and we look forward to being able to give back again.”
However, your visit to the Okanagan isn’t just good for the local community; it’s great for you too because Penticton is quietly one of the best places to drink beer in BC, and even Canada. This is thanks to the amazing eight craft breweries packed into the city, many of which are in the walkable downtown core. Don’t take our word for it; just check out to what Expedia.ca and Lonely Planet have said about the place some have dubbed #BeerTownBC in the past.
Six Reasons This News Matters To BC Beer Fans
So there you have it. In summary, picking up Early Bird tickets for Fest of Ale has benefits on multiple levels, because
- You save money,
- The tickets make highly desirable gifts,
- You get to plan your Okanagan trip well in advance,
- You get to check out the amazing craft beer scene in Penticton, aka Beer Town BC,
- You get to partake in one of Canada’s longest-running beer traditions and sample some top-notch beverages amongst a lively and friendly crowd, and
- You help fund some worthy, charitable causes.
Sounds like a win-win. See you there!
Okanagan Fest of Ale
April 14th & 15th, 2023
Penticton Trade and Convention Centre
273 Power St, Penticton, BC V2A 7K9
Early Bird: $35 Friday | $35 Saturday | $50 Weekend Pass