Vancouver’s best cultural festivals

by Akeena Legall

Canada’s unparalleled reputation for valuing diversity has seen our nation’s major metropolitan cities expand to support vibrant, multicultural communities. Vancouver is Canada’s West Coast melting pot, from the eleven First Nations communities indigenous to Metro Vancouver to the myriad of cultures including people of Asian, South Asian and Italian descent who have come together to call Vancouver home. Trying to broaden your cultural horizons while enjoying a day out on the town? Look no further than your own backyard! Here are seven cultural festivals happening in Vancouver. [Photo credit: Tourism Vancouver/Coast Mountain Photography]

Vancouver’s best cultural festivals

Italian Day

The beloved hipster paradise, The Drive, is Vancouver’s Little Italy and definitely where you want to be on Italian Day each year in early June. Grab your bike – or best walking shoes – and head to Commercial to enjoy patios, street vendors and live entertainment. Early June, Commercial Drive, Vancouver.

National Aboriginal Day

The Indigenous community continues to build on a culture and history that serves as the bedrock to Canadian society. Aboriginal Day allows us to come together and honour the First Nations communities of yesterday, today and tomorrow. Bring your favourite picnic blanket to Trout Lake and check out the food trucks, mini pow wow and teepee village. Mid-June, Trout Lake, Vancouver.

African Descent Festival

Founded in 2015, the African Descent Festival is meant to give Vancouverites an opportunity to celebrate people of African heritage. Attendees will a find a truly multidisciplinary performance lineup featuring headliner and reggae sensation Nkulee Dube, along with dance groups Kesseke Yeo and Kárà-Kátà. Head out and enjoy the prime of summer with multiple craft workshops and tours of Vancouver’s historically Black neighbourhood, Hogan’s Alley. Mid-July; Thornton Park, Vancouver.

Caribbean Days Festival

If you’re looking for a little island flavour to go with your sunshine, look no further than Caribbean Days, which takes place in North Vancouver’s Waterfront Park the last weekend in July. Test your sea legs the weekend before with the Caribbean boat cruise. Make sure you’re in North Van the weekend of the festival, when Lonsdale comes alive with revelers during the multicultural street parade. Late July; Waterfront Park, North Vancouver.

Powell Street Festival

Powell Street is Vancouver’s historic Japanese neighbourhood and home to the Powell Street Festival, an annual event celebrating Japanese arts and culture. Spanning more than four decades, the festival's programming includes artists and entertainers like the Japanese/Australian duo George & Noriko and Californian Jodaiko. Early August, Downtown Eastside, Vancouver.

TD Vancouver Chinatown Festival

Join thousands of Vancouverites at Columbia and Keefer to celebrate the annual TD Vancouver Chinatown Festival. Vancouver is home to Canada’s biggest historic Chinatown and one of the largest in North America, and has an impressive festival to celebrate it all. Live entertainment and neighbourhood tasting tours make up an event that’s attended by over fifty thousand people. Take your friends and family to your favourite tea house or hit up all the food stalls in your search for the best congee. Mid-August, Chinatown, Vancouver.

Diwali Festival

Diwali means “rows of lighted lamps,” and is the Hindu festival of lights. It is celebrated all over the world as a triumph of all the moral, steadfast things that prevail in the face of negativity: good over malice, wisdom over ignorance and hope over despair. Diwali Fest has come a long way since its inception in 2004, and this year’s event will feature over a dozen unique musicians and dance performers and an open-air market where you can experience a variety of South Asian crafts and delicacies. Mid-October, Roundhouse Community Center, Vancouver.

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