About Kelowna, British Columbia
Kelowna which comes from the Okanagan term for "grizzly bear," is located on Okanagan Lake in British Columbia, Canada. Kelowna is the 22nd largest city in Canada and the 3rd largest metro area in British Columbia with a population estimated at 120,000 in 2015.
The first European to settle in the Kelowna area was Father Charles Pandosy, a French Roman Catholic missionary. The city was incorporated in 1905 when the city had 600 people and the economy centered on farming, cattle ranching, hay and grain cultivation, and orchard growing. The city's population grew dramatically after World War II partly due to a veteran resettlement program.
City Size and Population Density
The city proper has a population density of just 554 people per square kilometer (1,434/square mile). The larger metropolitan area has a population of 180,000. The total surface area that the city of Kelowna claims comes to 211.82 square kilometers (81.78 square miles).
Urban and rural; nature and culture; playtime and downtime: Kelowna isn’t just one destination. It’s a whole bunch of them, located in one uniquely beautiful place. Cradled within a wonderful range of mountains, is a gorgeous location filled with pristine lakes, pine forests, abundant gardens, orchards and vineyards, sandy beaches and superb amenities. Kelowna has miles of beautiful parkland and several beaches which provide wonderful opportunities for boating, swimming, water-skiing, windsurfing and fishing. As well, you can hit the links at one of our many golf courses nine months out of the year. In cooler months, our snow-capped mountains and pine filled forests are a haven for skiers, boarders, snowmobilers and outdoor adventurists of all types and levels.
There’s always something to do in Kelowna. The popular Dîner en blanc will transport you to a mysterious location where the white linens and wines flow. The seasonal wine festivals will introduce you to wines you won’t forget about, Appleooza celebrates cider, and the Great Okanagan Beer Festival will have you sampling new brews on the lakeshore. We can’t forget about food, The Canadian Culinary Championships bring the brightest chefs from across the country, Amuse is a delectable sampling of Kelowna’s best, and Feast of Fields showcases local flavours. Chill out to the cool sounds at the jazz festival, turn your wheels at the Kelowna Gravel Gran Fondo, join in Kelowna Pride Week, or challenge your personal best time in the Wine Country Half Marathon. Want to turn up the volume – BreakOut West returns to Kelowna in October 2018.
Ease into your day with stand-up paddle boarding or kayaking on Okanagan Lake. Don’t want to get wet? Warm up with around on one of Kelowna’s 19 golf courses. Nibble buttery croissants from Okanagan Grocery Artisan Breads. Up the tempo and burn off treats with a hike up Knox Mountain in downtown Kelowna or Christie Falls in West Kelowna. For a faster pace cycle the historic Kettle Valley Rail, Myra Canyon Trestles or the Okanagan Rail Trail (coming in 2018). Break for lunch and a well-deserved craft cocktail at waterside OAK + CRU. Crank it up for an afternoon adventure. Soar above the trees at ZipZone in Peachland. Rise above the water with Okanagan Flyboard. You can even fly above it all with Ogopogo Parasail. The days not over yet, visit BNA Brewing Co. for a pint on the patio and bocce above the bar.
Stretching from north to south for approximately 135 km (84 miles) is beautiful Okanagan Lake. The lake sustains several diverse communities along this corridor known as the Okanagan Valley. The Okanagan Valley is a semi-arid climate, boasting long warm summers and short mild winters. The city of Kelowna is the largest community and is located midway through the valley. It has a population of 127,500 and is the transportation, business and service hub of the valley.
The weather in Kelowna is one reason why so many of our visitors become residents. Warm summers characterized by low humidity along with relatively mild winters mean Kelowna's weather is envied by much of Canada!
Come summer the Okanagan heat makes trips to one of our many beaches and parks a popular activity. Explore Kelowna's rich and diverse farm to table scene in the fall and grab your skis and snowboards for fun in Kelowna's mild winter.
Monthly Average Temperatures
Jan Feb Mar Apr May Jun
1°C 4°C 10°C 16°C 20°C 24°C
-6°C -5°C -2°C 1°C 5°C 9°C
Jul Aug Sep Oct Nov Dec
28°C 28°C 22°C 13°C 6°C 1°C
11°C 11°C 6°C 1°C -2°C -6°C
Orchards and vineyards thrive within a 10-minute drive from the downtown core and provide seasonal delights year round. You can pluck ripe cherries or juicy peaches from trees, or spend a delightful day sampling the award-winning wares of our internationally acclaimed wineries. The Spring, Summer and Fall Wine Festivals offer hundreds of activities focused on wine making, tasting and touring. CLICK HERE FOR WINERY INFORMATION
Grand terraces with lake views, wood bars at the centre of a production facility, or classic picnic benches set among apple orchards, Kelowna’s more than 40 wineries and five distinct wine trails have a seat waiting for you.
From wine giants such as Mission Hill to family estates like Quails’ Gate Winery and plentiful boutique and garagiste offerings like Nagging Doubt, the hatch and Off the Grid Winery, one thing is constant for all, the majority of their wine is sold through their wine shops, and for smaller wineries sell-outs each year leave wine drinkers waiting for the next release. Travel to the birthplace of BC wine to discover hidden gems, taste the wines you wish graced your local shelves, and get it before it’s gone.
Taste small lot Rieslings from Tantalus Vineyards, rarely found Pinotage from The View Winery (only one of three wineries in the Okanagan Valley to produce the varietal), and bold Bordeaux blends from Sandhill Wines. When you’ve tasted all you can, for now, switch gears for yoga between the vines at CedarCreek Estate Winery, salsa dancing at Summerhill Pyramid Winery, culinary classes with renowned chefs at Quails’ Gate Winery or a summer party like no other at Kitsch Wines annual Splendor in the Grass (complete with live music, food trucks and a fashion show.) Ready for more? Sip while you dine at Red Fox Club at Indigenous World Winery, Garden Bistro at The Chase Wines, or Terrace Restaurant at Mission Hill Family Estate.
Sip into a Kelowna classic and visit new wineries, The Chase Wines or Burnt Timber Wines (opening soon) and check out 2018 expansions at CedarCreek Estate and 50th Parallel.
Just over 6% of the population belongs to a visible minority, the largest of which are: South Asian (1.8%), Chinese (1.2%), Japanese (0.8%), Southeast Asian (0.6%), Black (0.5%), Filipino (0.4%), and Latin American (0.4%). About 3.4% of the population in Kelowna belong to an Aboriginal group, all of which are First Nations. The White population is more than 90%. About 15% of the population is foreign born.
Kelowna has a fairly older population structure with an average age of 41.1 years, compared to the Canadian average of 37.6. Just 4.8% of the population is under the age of 5, compared with 5.6% for all of Canada.
Kelowna previously had a Chinatown. Most of the Chinatown residents were male. Ethnic Chinese accounted for 15% of Kelowna's population in 1910. By 2010, this proportion had fallen to less than 1%.
In terms of religion, the population is largely Protestant (40.3%), followed by Catholic (19.2%) and no religious affiliation (31.1%).
Kelowna Population Growth. Much of the city's growth has been driven by Canadians moving from British Columbia and other provinces into the region. Kelowna is currently the fastest-growing city in British Columbia according to Statistics Canada. It's also the fifth fastest-growing metropolitan area in Canada after Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon, and Regina with a growth rate of 1.8%. The Canadian national average is just 1.4%.
Relatively undiscovered, Kelowna is never too crowded despite playing host to visitors the world over. The Kelowna International Airport, one of the busiest airports in Canada, easily connects to major North American cities. With daily flights, it’s just a 60-minute flight from Calgary or Vancouver and 70 minutes from Seattle. Daily direct flights to Toronto are also available. A variety of accommodations offer choices ranging from lakeside resorts to cozy B & B’s.
That’s not all. Kelowna’s growing Cultural District covers a six-block downtown area and features a concentration of galleries, museums, theatres, a casino, artists’ studios, fine dining, unique shops and a vibrant cultural life all year long. Prospera Place, a 6,000-seat multi-purpose facility that’s home to the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League, attracts major entertainers, events, and is also located in the heart of the city.
A trip to Kelowna would not be complete without taking the time to search for Ogopogo, the legendary lake monster that reputedly resides in Okanagan Lake. The myth dates back to the Interior Salish Native people who exchanged stories of a lake creature, or “N’ha-a-itk”, over 100 years ago. The creature later became known as Ogopogo and purported sightings over the years continue to strengthen the legend. To “see” Ogopogo for yourself, be sure to visit the statue of the creature found on Bernard Avenue near Kelowna’s City Park.
Cruising Okanagan Lake on a luxury sailboat with Okanagan Yacht Tours, or touring the city in a Tesla with Current Taxi, 2019 has a must do experience for everyone. Check out established innovators and new brews, like Red Bird Brewing, along the Kelowna Ale Trail; Smile Cycle Tours offers a fun and social way to explore your favourite craft brews. Discover Wiseacre Farm Distillery (opening soon) at Caldwell Heritage Farm as they expand Kelowna’s farm to flask offerings; growing their grain on their property (a rarity in craft distilling).
Myra Canyon’s Kettle Valley Railway trestles may be the ultimate outdoor offering in Kelowna. Why? Not only does Myra Canyon serve up scenic views sure to leave you in awe, there is no shortage of ways to enjoy the site year-round. Spend the fall peddling over bridges on a cycle tour, trudge through blankets of sparkling powder in the winter with snowshoes, hike or stroll with friends as spring blooms, beat the summer heat and admire the trestles from above the treetops in a truly cool helicopter tour.