Under the advice of BC’s provincial health officer, Vancouver’s largest free street festivals have formally announced their cancellation due to the expectation that COVID-19 health safety measures will continue through the summer.
Italian Day on Commercial Drive was scheduled for June 14, but organizers have made a decision to not continue with this year’s event, which stretches 14 city blocks and typically attracts over 100,000 people.
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A decision has also been made by organizers of Car Free Vancouver to cancel their various larges Car Free Day events across the city.
Car Free Day festivals were slated for June 20 on Denman Street in downtown’s West End, June 21 on Main Street, and July 12 on Commercial Drive. These events have a cumulative annual attendance of over 300,000 people, with the Main Street festival stretching 21 city blocks and the Commercial Drive festival using the same footprint as Italian Day.
Additionally, Khatsahlano scheduled for July 11 is not proceeding this year. About 100,000 people typically attend this 10 city block event on West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano.
“The Khatsahlano Street Party would like to extend our best wishes to our home on West 4th Avenue and encourage anyone who’s ever spent time at our party, to consider doing what you’re able to support a local business,” reads an update from Khatsahlano.
Italian Day and Car Free Day festivals are organized by separate not-for-profit organizations, with support from their local business improvement associations (BIA), while Khatsahlano is directly organized by the West 4th Avenue BIA.
Both Italian Day and Khatsahlano would have celebrated their 10th anniversaries this year.
For Car Free Day, organizers say their West End, Main Street, and Commercial Drive events will transition to an online format that celebrates local arts and cultural digitally, and helps promote local businesses. They will also attempt to host smaller pop-up events and activities to “reclaim the space traditionally devoted to cars,” as “car-culture is not off the hook this year.”
“While the current focus is to stay indoors and physically isolated, we’re remotely organizing around several issues related to public space, streets, and pedestrian and cyclist infrastructure,” reads a bulletin from Car Free Vancouver.
Most of the Vancouver region’s major summertime events have already been cancelled, including the Honda Celebration of Light, Canada Day at Canada Place, FVDED in The Park, Vancouver Pride, TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival, and Bard on the Beach. The PNE says it will attempt to continue its annual Fair in a different format.