18th Annual Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival
Wednesday October 27 to Sunday November 7, 2021

Welcome to the Downtown Eastside Heart of the City Festival!

This year’s festival theme, Stories We Need to Hear, resonates today as our community grapples with the dramatic impact of the pandemic, ongoing displacement, the fentanyl crisis, and the reality of bigotry and systemic racism. In the words of late DTES poet Sandy Cameron, “When we tell our stories we draw our own maps, and question the maps of the powerful. Each of us has something to tell, something to teach.” We take strength from the compelling lived wisdom and creativity of Downtown Eastside-involved artists and residents who illuminate the community’s vitality, relevance and resilience and its diverse and rich traditions, knowledge systems, ancestral languages, cultural roots and stories.

The 2021 Festival features twelve days of live and online events, including music, stories, poetry, theatre, ceremony, films, readings, forums, workshops, discussions, art talks, history talks, and visual art exhibitions; including the Art in the Streets program with surprise pop-up music and spoken word activities on sidewalks and small plazas throughout the historic district.

Festival highlights will be posted very soon! Stay tuned!


Most of the events at the Heart of the City Festival are free. If you support the Festival and enjoy the programming, please consider donating to support our work. Any donations are very much needed, welcomed and appreciated. Donations can be made through Canada Helps or through Eventbrite when registering for an event.

The mandate of the Festival is to promote, present and facilitate the development of artists, art forms, cultural traditions, history, activism, people and great stories about Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. The festival involves professional, community, emerging and student artists, and lovers of the arts.


The Heart of the City Festival gratefully acknowledges the financial and in-kind support of our Festival partners and sponsors.