BOLDfest Celebrates its 15th Year

Sawagi Taiko Women Drummers will be at BOLDFest this year

Sawagi Taiko Women Drummers will be at BOLDFest this year

BOLDfest is a yearly festival held in September in Vancouver, Canada. It hosts presenters, musicians and workshops for older lesbians and dykes and their younger partners and friends. 

Started  / about

BOLDfest was the brainchild of Pat Hogan, who had attended two American gatherings for older lesbians and gays, Golden Threads in Provincetown, and SAGE in New York City in 2002. "Having put on events and concerts for over 30 years, mostly in the LGBTQ community, the idea of starting a brand new idea was somewhat daunting but I figured I might as well give it a try." Pat remembers. "I wanted it for me, an aging lesbian, as well as for others and looked forward to the challenge of taking on a new project. Little did I know!"

BOLDfest 2019 - What's On! Queer

That first year, Claire Robson, newly arrived in Vancouver, volunteered for the emerging festival, which had a long name Hogan herself can no longer remember "West Coast something….". Robson "immediately took charge, made decisions, worked her butt off was a huge contributor to making it all work". The two decided to collaborate on the next years' event, and Robson, who Hogan describes as the wordsmith of the team came up with name the festival has had ever since: "BOLD: Bold Old(er) Lesbians & Dykes". When women started referring to it as a festival, the team took to calling it BOLDFest. 

In an article on Vancouver Xtra, Clair Robson observed, "I think that as women and as lesbians and as older we are triply disenfranchised," adding that older lesbians face special challenges, including financial instability.

Pat Hogan added, "Just because someone looks older, don't think they're not an active, thriving, interesting human being. Ageism is rampant in society in general, and in the lesbian community we have our own internalized ageism. We need to speak honestly about it, and it's painful. “

Hogan and Robson believe the conference enables older women to realize their importance in the queer social spectrum.


The conference/festival attracts lesbians and dykes from near and far, and is held during early fall, when Vancouver normally has beautiful weather. For years BOLD took over the Coast Plaza Hotel with workshops, presentations, and dinners, auctions and dances on the ballroom level. When the Coast Plaza was slated for demolition, BOLD moved to the Coast Harbour Hotel where it will be hosted for this 15thanniversary. 

Events can be purchased individually or as a package and have a sliding fee scale to accommodate those participants with lighter pocketbooks. 

The festival has hosted presenters such as Margarethe Cammermeyer (retired lesbian US colonel, who Glen Close portrayed in the movie Serving in Silence), and performers such as Ferron and Kate Reid. For the past few years, a highlight of the Friday night dance has been Queer as Funk, which brings together some of Vancouver’s best musicians in an explosive, high-energy dance band.

This Year

BOLD's 2019 events feature workshops on topics including the 50th anniversary of decriminalization of homosexuality in Canada, lesbian oral histories, children of lesbian and gay parents, creating standup comedy, and climate change. 

There will also be a boat cruise, a dance, dragon boating workshop and a solo dykes mingle. Entertainment includes Queer as Funk, Sawagi Taiko Women Drummers, and closes with a performance by Vancouver Singer-songwriter Ferron.

MagazineSophia Kelly