From breakdance troops to classical stage actors to yarn-bombing installation artists, cultural groups across the country are gearing up for another edition of Culture Days.

The fledgling initiative, now in its third edition, aims to raise awareness of and engagement in the country's cultural life through thousands of free events held over one fall weekend.

The 2012 edition takes place Sept. 28, 29 and 30.

"These are events that give special access to how an artist works," Antoni Cimolino, chair of the Culture Days national steering committee and artistic director of the Stratford Shakespeare Festival, told CBC News.

More than one million Canadians took part in the 2011 edition because "people are having fun and they get to discover what's going on in their community. They get to try out things [that] maybe they've never done before," he said.

"Maybe you might take class in improvisation, as you can do in Ottawa, or look at classical texts at the Stratford Festival [alongside] some of our young artists and really get behind the scenes."

There's been a 30 per cent growth in activities since last year's edition, he added.

For this year's edition, more than 7,000 free events are scheduled to take place in nearly 800 communities across Canada. The offerings span comedy, dance, music, visual arts, history, theatre, literature, architecture and more. A handful of examples:

  • A concert celebrating Albertan artists at Calgary's Olympic Plaza (Sept. 29)
  • A look behind-the-scenes at the preparation that goes into a Chinese opera show in Richmond, B.C. (Sept. 30)
  • A skateboarding and BMX biking demonstration and discussion in Swift Current, Sask. (Sept. 28)
  • A breakdancing workshop hosted by KinetiQ Crew in Kingston, Ont. (Sept. 29,30)
  • Impromptu musical performances and Q&As by members of the Prince Edward Island Symphony Orchestra around Stratford, P.E.I. (Sept. 30)
  • A stop-motion animation workshop for teens in Flin Flon, Man. (Sept. 28)
  • A roving/mobile screen-printing workshop by an artist who will cycle around to different Montreal neighbourhoods. (Sept. 29, 30)
  • A lesson on burlesque in Winnipeg (Sept. 28,30)
  • A guided tour of and lecture about the creation and maintenance of public art in Thunder Bay, Ont.'s Prince Arthur's Landing (Sept. 30)
  • A storytelling evening presented by the Adäka Cultural Society and the Yukon International Storytelling Festival Society in Whitehorse (Sept. 28)

An updated list of activities is available on

Many established arts organizations — from the Atlantic Ballet Theatre in Moncton to the Canadian Opera Company in Toronto to the Vancouver Art Gallery — are also taking part in the volunteer initiative by hosting events.

"Culture Days is about expanding the number of people who actually take part in the arts," Cimolino said.

"This is about getting out there and building audiences, connecting with people and demonstrating that arts matters to all of us."


Approximately 1.2 million Canadians took part in Culture Days in 2011 because 'people are having fun and they get to discover what's going on in their community. They get to try out things maybe they've never done before,' according to national steering committee chair Antoni Cimolino. (Culture Days)