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Year in Review: Top tourism highlights in Osoyoos, B.C. during 2022

What a year it was in Osoyoos, British Columbia.

After two years of restrictions and limitations caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, 2022 started to have a semblance of what tourism was in Osoyoos before the world shut down back in March 2020.

With travel back in the realm of possibility and restrictions peeled back, the tourism season was a smashing success!

Tourists returned to the Town of Osoyoos in droves throughout the year, summer featured some gorgeous weather — including 42 straight days of sunshine over July & August — and the impact from wildfires on a large scale was minimal in comparison to a difficult 2021 season.

The year also saw the return of some local favourite festivals, the opening of new businesses, a handful of new annual events that were huge hits in their inaugural year and some notable upgrades to the area.

As 2022 draws to an end, we bring to you some of the top tourism highlights from the past 12 months in Osoyoos!

Return of the iconic Cherry Fiesta, Osoyoos Christmas Lite-Up

Fireworks at the 72nd Annual Cherry Fiesta

One of the great things about the 2022 tourism season in Osoyoos is two iconic Osoyoos events made their triumphant returns following a pandemic hiatus: The 72nd Annual Cherry Fiesta and the Christmas Town Lite-Up.

It was a welcomed sight to see the streets of Osoyoos converted into a super-soaker battlefield in one of the most epic water fights to date with the glorious return of the 72nd Cherry Fiesta. In addition to the water fight, the event featured the famed Canada Day parade, pie-eating contest and fireworks as well.

This holiday season, another parade and special gathering took place as people lined the streets for the return of the Osoyoos Christmas Lite-Up. The Town was illuminated along Main Street and featured the Artisan Christmas Market, a bonfire at Gyro and Christmas carollers as well.

Along with these two staples, the Osoyoos Night Market was resurrected and held weekly throughout the summer.

Incredible New Additions to the Annual Events Calendar

Ice luge from South Okanagan Fire & Ice Carnival at Spirit Ridge.

Locals and visitors celebrated the return of events such as the Cherry Fiesta in 2022, but we’d be remiss not to mention some of the new players that came knocking down the door to join the conversation.

Osoyoos saw not one, not two…but four events make an inaugural showcase, sprinkled across the calendar during 2022.

In 2022, event-goers were able to attend the first-ever Spring Osoyoos Music Festival, Osoyoos Pride Festival, All Hallows Festival, and the South Okanagan Fire and Ice Festival.

From aerial dancers to fire performers, from local bands to a Pride march, each of these festivals and events offered a little something for everyone!

We expect to see the majority, if not all of these 2022 events make a second appearance in 2023, including the sold-out Fire & Ice Carnival that was held up at Spirit Ridge as a feature event from the South Okanagan Fire & Ice Festival!

Notable Local Business Upgrades

Inside look at the Indian Flame’s new Lounge Section.

In 2022, several local businesses took the opportunity to invest in some upgrades to enhance the experience of visitors and locals alike. While some changes were small, such as restaurants upgrading their menus or venues adding live music, others were more notable. Here are a few of the bigger improvements:

New Osoyoos Desert Centre Boardwalk

Adding to the many reasons to visit the Osoyoos Desert Centre is its newly refurbished boardwalk. Over the off-season last year, the Desert Centre worked with a local landscape company to replace the 1.5-km boardwalk with composite material instead of wood, to make it last longer overall. The new material also helps reduce maintenance needs and makes It withstand the impacts of weather better.

Indian Flame’s new location

A local favourite for many years, Indian Flame on Main opened this summer in a brand new location, just up the street from its previous spot.

The new facility — split into two sides — brought a new flavour and atmosphere and with it, a blessing of size that the restaurant didn’t have before. The dining room side is able to seat up to 60 guests while The Lounge boasts a capacity of 140.

The restaurant, known for serving authentic Indian cuisine, will continue to offer dishes recognizable from its former menu — and with the same great taste — but an entirely new kitchen setup has allowed for new and revamped appetizer offerings.

Read more about the new Indian Flame location here.

Covert Farms adds to its unique vineyard experiences

Covert Farms, a fourth-generation, 650-acre regenerative farm and winery near Osoyoos, offers some of the most unique tasting and farm experiences in the area. The family-run property has options for guests to have their own private picnic with local charcuterie, artisanal cheese and seasonal farm-fresh veggies.

New private campfire cookouts were added this year where guests can pre-book their very own fire pit along with ready-to-grill kits.

Also in 2022, guests were able to grab frozen goodies to take away from Covert Farms’ new retail freezer.

Also available on the farm are wine tastings, property tours in a cherry-red ’52 Mercury truck, private farm tours for the kids and don’t forget the bouncy blob and slip n’ slide on property.

Completion of District Wine Village

District Wine Village

Since the summer of 2021, District Wine Village sourced and added its last new winery, Canter Cellars, to complete the unique wine-tasting location. In total, the Village includes 13 Wineries, 1 brewery and 1 eatery, with a capacity of 610 people.

Shuttles to The Village were also added to the mix in 2022, departing during peak season two times daily from Osoyoos hotels with pickup and return times specified with each booking.

Additionally, over the summer, the District Wine Village became a hub for local Oliver-Osoyoos events, hosting marketplaces, dinner series and live concerts with well-known artists ranging from Emerson Drive to Matthew Good.

We are looking forward to seeing this concept (a Canadian first!) thrive in the years to come.

Rise of Bird Watching & Mountain Biking

Two activities burst onto the Osoyoos scene in 2022 with more and more visitors travelling from all around to participate in Bird Watching and Mountain Biking.

This unique desert ecosystem is home to a spectacular array of birds and the most avid birders have flocked to the area in years past, however, it wasn’t until 2022 that Osoyoos was named one of the newest Birding Outposts along the BC Bird Trail.

The expansion of The BC Bird Trail provides locals and travellers, as well as budding and seasoned birders alike, with a free, self-guided itinerary and resources to view and identify some of the most spectacular birds nature has to offer across B.C. There is also an app to help you get started.

Get out there and start watching!

The South Okanagan mountain biking trails also saw heightened interest this year as the sport gained steam in the Osoyoos area across 2022.

Offering beautiful vistas while transporting riders between desert landscapes and boreal forests, the trails of the South Okanagan are unlike anywhere else in British Columbia and they have become a new hotspot for riders over the last 12 months. The climate in Osoyoos also allows for an extremely long riding season, enabling mountain bikers to hit the trails for over half the year from early spring into late fall.

We expect to see mountain biking in Osoyoos continue to grow in popularity over the years to come.

Murals, Murals, Murals

An Osoyoos mural located around the corner from Art Therapy Corp and Wide Arts Gallery.

Osoyoos has no shortage of beautiful attractions and iconic art pieces to enjoy while exploring the area. But a new art scene has been emerging as of late, adding an even brighter splash of colour while capturing the lively character and history of Osoyoos.

In 2022, more murals were added to the ongoing beautification of the city, resulting in a spike of visitors and locals seeking out colourful backdrops to enjoy and take pictures.

From a full-length flower painting completed behind Home Hardware to a collection of Looney Tunes characters added to the side of Needs Gym to colourful wings painted just off Spartan Drive, there were multiple art installments added to the Town that added to the tourism highlights this year!

More details on some of the murals in Osoyoos can be found here.

Bustling Osoyoos Visitor Centre in 2022

The Osoyoos Visitor Centre saw a steady stream of people coming through its doors throughout the year. Whether it was visitors new to town coming in to ask a question or someone coming to shop at The Boutique, the Centre saw nearly 13.5K through the first 11 months of the year. That number marks a 30% increase in visitors to the Centre from 2021.

While the numbers of people at the centre haven’t reached up beyond pre-COVID numbers just yet, the upward trajectory is an exciting highlight as it shows our busy Town is seeing an uptick in traffic and continued growth in the industry once again!