One of the many things I love about summer is all the festivals that are put on in the Lower Mainland. There are quite the variety too. They range from things like the tulip festival, film festivals (VIFF is awesome!), music festivals, local community festivals, car festivals, beer festivals, food festivals, different festivals for different cultures, Shakespeare festival, sports festivals, and some street festivals. I hate to say it but I had never been to any of the street festivals in Vancouver before. I can’t believe what I was missing. They really are a great way to spend a summer day with free admission. Listed below are the summer street festivals in the Vancouver area I attended in 2017.
Hats Off Day on Hastings in Burnaby (June 2, 2018)
Hats Off Day (website) is an annual street festival held the first Saturday in June by the merchants and community of the Burnaby Heights area of Hastings Street. They are taking their ‘hats off’ to the community. Hastings Street from Boundary Rd to Gamma Avenue is closed to cars and the day starts off with a parade at 9:30am that leads right into a big street party lasting till around 4pm. If walking along and enjoying yourself isn’t enough exercise for the kids, there is the Family Fun Dash. A 100-metre race also taking place at 9:30am.
Merchants set-up on the sidewalk and street to offer games, activities, share information, or sell their goods. There is even a Show & Shine to check out some amazing cars, and a stage for musicians to play. You can listen to music, check out the fire hall and a fire truck, have your picture taken with an RCMP officer, eat lots of different foods, be entertained, play games, watch dancers, shop, or have a balloon animal made for you. There are so many possibilities depending on what the merchants are doing or offering.
Walking down the middle of Hastings Street surrounded by a giant crowd of people is something I find so exciting and entertaining. You can even check out a great chocolaterie patisserie and soda fountain shop while you are there.
Italian Day on The Drive (June 10, 2018)
Probably one of the most known summer street festivals in the Vancouver Area, Italian Day on The Drive (website) is huge and shuts down a large part of Commercial Drive for the day. Italian Day is just that. It is a full day street festival from 12pm to 8pm celebrating all aspects of Italian culture. When I say it is huge, I don’t just mean the length of Commercial Street closed, or the amount of merchants and vendors offering their goods and treats, or even the amount of performers sharing their talent. I mean the shear amount of people of every culture from all over the Vancouver area walking down the street. This is a very busy street festival but I really enjoyed myself.
There were musicians, DJ’s, food trucks, as well as the stores on Commercial putting up tables along the street. Last year’s Italian Day festival was where I tried my first cannoli. While I wasn’t overly impressed with the desert, I did enjoy the gelato I had later. There were so many people and so much to see, do, and eat. Oh, so much food and drink at this street festival. It was great.
Surrey Fusion Festival (July 21-22, 2018)
Okay so located in Holland Park, the Surrey Fusion Festival (website) is technically not one of the summer street festivals in the Vancouver area. It is a summer festival though and it is in the Vancouver area seeing as it is in Surrey. I just really wanted to include it because it was huge, and fun, and well, I really enjoyed it. I wanted to share with everyone.
The Fusion Festival is a large festival incorporating culture, traditions, food, and talented performers of all types from almost every country and culture you can think of. There are several sections with several stages offering different types of entertainment, including an Indigenous section and a children’s section with entertainment, games, and activities all set-up for children and families. You will also find dancers, DJ’s, musicians, bands, as well as pavilions set-up providing items and food to purchase from countries all over the world.
Running from 11am to 10pm, this festival provides two full days of immersion into other cultures. It allows you to enjoy shopping, being entertained by an assortment of talented performers, and eating foods you’ve maybe never experienced before. Parts of it are learning experiences, parts of it are entertainment, and parts of it are a giant party. It was my first time in 2017 but it definitely won’t be my last. I only regret not knowing about it sooner.
Mural Festival (August 6-11, 2018)
While I enjoyed all the summer street festivals in the Vancouver area, the Mural Festival (website) might have been my favourite. It was a lot less crowded, probably because of how spread out it was in duration and location. While you get to enjoy the Mount Pleasant Street party on Main Street, it also included art. Actually, it could be classified more of an art festival that includes a street festival. The website says it is the city’s largest annual free public art celebration. So, it provides a great, free way to spend time enjoying different forms of art.
I really enjoyed the touring pop-up party, public disco. It had a great vibe and I wasn’t expecting it. Especially when I randomly found it in an alleyway. There was music, places to relax, murals, people, and of course dancing.
Murals are painted by a variety of artists at different times, including some being done live during the festival. They are also of varying sizes and shapes depending on the location. You can find a map for the locations of all the murals on the website. My first-time attending was 2017 and I really loved watching the artists painting the parking stalls in one of the parking lots, live. I’m a lover of almost all forms of art, maybe because I feel so untalented myself. The talent people have is amazing and awe inspiring.
Not to be outdone by the art, shops are set up along the part of Main Street that is car-free for the street festival, selling goods and food. Plus, I found a small parking lot on one of the other streets where several food trucks were set-up.
More Summer Street Festivals in the Vancouver Area to Enjoy
Obviously, there are a lot more summer street festivals in the Vancouver area so hopefully I will visit more each year. Here are some I would like to check out. Greek Day on Broadway (June 24, 2018), Columbia Street Food Truck Fest, Khatsahlano Street Party, Fun City Festival (August and includes a giant waterslide in the street), and the Powell Street Festival (August 4-5, 2018) a festival for Japanese-Canadian culture.