Vancouver hosted a free outdoor New Year’s Eve event downtown for the first time in over a decade. It attracted 80,000 people from throughout Metro Vancouver and visitors from abroad to celebrate and ring in 2016. It featured West Coast bands, food trucks, and we had two countdowns and firework shows: one at 9 p.m. for families with young children; and a midnight one for those of us fed up with watching the feed from the east coast three hours later or from our neighbours in L.A. or Seattle.
And we set a new Canadian record for the most people to ever attend a New Year’s Eve event. Quite an accomplishment in year one.
So what’s the next big event for a city that unjustly gets labeled as No Fun City (let’s leave this for another op-ed piece)?
If I had to pick just one new festival to introduce in our market, it would be my all-time favourite from my youth: Winnipeg’s Folklorama, a two-week extravaganza in late July and early August celebrating the multicultural make-up of that city. It’s been going strong since 1970!
We had a mini version of this in Vancouver during the 2010 Winter Olympics where the Irish, German, and Russian pavilions did brisk business selling beer, ethnic cuisine, and getting us tapping our toes and singing along to their unique music. Can you imagine 40 or more pavilions showcasing our multicultural diversity for two weeks? Like in my youth, it would be a blast to plan which pavilions to visit and to see how many one could actually get to before the festival wraps up for the year.
Folklorama is more than drinking and eating different brew and food for two weeks. It’s about learning about, appreciating, and respecting different cultures. This seems more important today than perhaps ever before, especially since Canada has graciously opened its doors to and is welcoming refugees and other migrants to make this country their home.
A folklorama-like festival may be the right tonic for our times and a city that is quickly shedding its no fun city label.
What type of festival do you think Vancouver needs next? Leave a comment below and tell us your opinion.