Inside The 2019 Vancouver Ukulele Festival

By Heidi Swedberg

The 2019 Vancouver Ukulele Festival celebrated its tenth anniversary with a bang March 22–24, with an all-star concert Friday evening and a weekend of workshops. I spoke to the festival’s organizer, Daphne Roubini, about what made 2019’s festivities an event to remember.

Event host Daphne Roubini introducing Casey MacGill at the 2019 Vancouver Ukulele Festival.
Eduardo Garcia—one of the teacher/performers of the 2019 Vancouver Uke Fest.

Congratulations on your first decade! Gonna do it again?

Of course, this is just the beginning, I can’t wait for the next one! I was so delighted that the image of the festival I have been holding in my head and heart was finally realized. This year was extra special because we had the whole of the Croatian Cultural Centre for the entire weekend, with two big halls and five break-out rooms. A massive achievement in an expensive city like Vancouver! So, I was able to have a spotlight on ukulele luthiers in the VUF market place; of course the amazing line-up of tutors; and the vibe—everyone was so excited all the time!

What percentage of the audience would you say is local?

I would say half of the festival attendees were local. I was delighted to see many ukulele festival organizers there who come to get inspiration from VUF, and that is always a great compliment. Our attendee from furthest away was a lovely lady from Japan. She is starting a ukulele festival there and was introduced to me by one of our Ruby’s Ukes students.


Victoria Vox at the Vancouver Ukulele Festival, March 2019.

How many people were in attendance?

This year we had 550 folks attend the concert and 190 attend the whole festival weekend, next time it will be 220.

How many workshops were there?

Forty workshops to choose from, with five options for four of the workshop time-slots a day, so something for everyone! I had many requests for informal jams, so I added a few into the schedule, too.

Daniel Ho (left), with Ruby & Smith.

Anything you want to do different next year?

Next time I will make sure there is time for an all-star tutor jam at the concert, we ran out of time this year! And, we always provide tea and snacks (keeps everyone’s brain perky!), but next time I will see what I can do to provide coffee for the caffeine addicts among us! This is Vancouver after all, and I think a coffee cup is as iconic as the mountains.

Hansol is the sort of event volunteer that makes these things memorable.