Stepping away from my usual high energy adventure weekends, I decided to cruise down to Nelson to check out the annual Road Kings festival early this September. Not necessarily a car-buff, I wasn’t sure what to expect of the event and never being in Nelson before, I was excited to finally see this funky Kootenay Rockies mountain town which I had heard so much about. Butted up against the far West Arm of Kootenay Lake and mostly established up the mountain-side, Nelson has a unique, quaint atmosphere with its cottage-country feel and a vibrant, historic downtown. Despite the gloomy forecast for the weekend, the town was bustling with car show attendees and I was ready to see what it was all about.
On arrival into town, we headed to our accommodations at the New Grand Hotel. I had seen photos of this century old building and was keen to see it in person. The building has quite the history with its three phase construction over the past 100 years showing hints of various building styles including art deco and new artisan accents like the locally made wrought iron work on the façade.
Mid-renovation, we had the luxury of staying in one of the lovely new rooms which featured locally-made, custom furniture well designed to optimize the space – a challenge these old hotels often make. The room details showed they had spared no expense in taking this hotel to a new level and evolving it into a more euro-style hotel complete with cleverly designed shared accommodations featuring adult bunk-beds, and soon to be a new guest lounge, hot tubs and social area on the modern roof-top patio, and a gym for adventurers alike to enjoy outside of their rooms.
For eats and drinks, you don’t have to go far when staying at the New Grand as there is a sports bar, steakhouse, and café all on the premises.
Down the street, we enjoyed the pub atmosphere of Jackson’s Hole and enjoyed a hearty plate of nachos complete with a secret pot of cowboy-style baked beans hidden under the mound. We were also very impressed with the beautiful garden patio at Oso Negro cafe – a ‘must-stop’ when in Nelson.
For our second night, Re-lish came highly recommended to us, and we loved the intimate atmosphere. A busy place for sure but without a reservation they still had space for us at the “chef’s table” which is actually the bar that overlooks the open-concept kitchen. Literally, the kitchen staff were putting bowls and bottles of sauce right on the counter next to my wine glass as they worked – though it sounds hectic, it was actually a pretty cool set-up and fascinating to watch them effortlessly pull together unique, fresh, and scrumptious dishes. We had the tempura beans to start and I had honestly the best salmon I’ve ever had that came with a coconut curry broth, baby bok choy and golden beets served over rice noodles. Sorry folks, no photos from dinner…too busy eating!
Now onto the real reason I came to Nelson…to see some awesome cars! Turns out the Road Kings festival brings out a huge collection of over 400 automobiles each year. I loved all the different colours, shapes, and details of each vehicle. Single file, each car parades on the downtown streets on opening night with the Queen City Cruise.
The next day’s Show N’ Shine gives everyone the chance to mosey around and really take in the amazing detail of the cars.
This year’s festivities also included a soap box derby and the highly energetic entertainment of the Blues Brothers tribute crew. The entire event had a really great community feel to it. It was different and fun!
Setting out on our own cruise, we decided to take the scenic route back to Revelstoke from Nelson and head up the shoreline of Kootenay Lake to Kaslo where we would jaunt over to New Denver and stop in at the annual Hills Garlic Festival. It was a stunning drive and with the lake seeming like it goes on forever and Kaslo being an impressive little spot, we were tempted to mull around more and explore the area but with garlic to attend to, we had to press on!
Finally arriving at the much anticipated ‘garlic-fest’, we scampered around seeking out the most unique and interesting garlic items. We scored some one-of-a-kind gems such as Garlic Syrup (a natural cold remedy and also a great salad or stir fry ingredient) and got to taste interesting garlic varieties that you don’t typically see in the grocery store. Though the Hills Garlic Festival certainly has more to offer than just garlic, it is definitely a unique festival and will now be an annual tradition for us to get our garlic-fill.
I think one of the best things about BC is that a new adventure is just a short drive away in the next town or village. Autumn is a great time of year to get in your car for a road trip and if you can work in one or two of the many fall festivals that the province has to offer, even better!
Festivals & Events in BC
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