Celebrating Italian Culture, Heritage and Community
Sunday, June 9, 2019
12pm – 8pm
Sunday, June 9, 2019
12pm – 8pm
Italian Day on The Drive is a cultural street festival celebrating Italian culture, heritage and community, or otherwise translated in Italian as Comunita, which is this year’s centrepiece theme. For the Italian Day Festival Society, the significance of Comunità links several elements of Italian Day’s purpose and roots: the importance of community in the Italian culture and heritage; the embrace Italian Day creates with people of all cultures and ages in the form of a festive community celebration; and the value and common ground we can find when coming together to help make a positive difference in our community.
In the 1940s and 50s, many Italian immigrants had made their home and established businesses in the Commercial Drive area. Between the 1940s – 1980s, Commercial Drive had developed into an Italian enclave, otherwise unofficially known as Little Italy. Italo-Canadians played a key role in influencing and revitalizing The Drive’s landscape, including the introduction of street parades in the 60s, and cultural street celebrations in the 70s and early 80s – with the last Italian Day of that era being on Sunday, July 11, 1982. It was an unforgettable day on Commercial Drive, where thousands of Italo-Canadians poured onto the street in a passionate display of emotion, celebrating Italy’s win in the World Cup that same day. It was the first Italy World Cup win since the 1930s.
In 2016, Italian Day marked another important day of celebration. In recognition of over 70 years of Italian heritage, an 8 block area of Commercial Drive was officially designated as Little Italy by the Mayor and other officials, including a ribbon cutting and special visit from the Italian Ambassador to Canada.
For the tenth consecutive year, Italian Day on The Drive will present its green, white and red colours proudly as Vancouver’s largest cultural street festival, showcasing live music, food, patios, lifestyle attractions, activities, family-fun and more.
Thanks to supporting sponsors, Italian Day each year gives away fabulous prizes via our raffle, totalling close to $10,000, including two trips (for two) to Italy, compliments of Air Canada. Raffle tickets will be available on Italian Day at Da Vinci International Travel raffle booth (1428 Commercial Drive), 2nd Avenue Stage, Grandview Park and Piazza Moda at 3rd Avenue.
June is Italian Heritage Month (IHM), and in 2018 City Council passed a motion recognizing IHM in the City’s list of official observances and celebrations. Italian Heritage Month is an opportunity to honour the history, culture, and contributions of Italian-Canadians to the City of Vancouver. It involves a month long series of events presented by various partners, including Il Centro Italian Cultural Centre, Consulate General of Italy in Vancouver, and the Italian Day Festival Society, showcasing performances, exhibitions, language and cultural initiatives, community festivals, and other events. The Italian Day Festival Society launches the cultural festivities on a grand scale with Italian Day on The Drive, the signature and largest event of Italian Heritage Month. The Vancouver Whitecaps also join in the IHM celebrations with an Italian Heritage game, honouring the many contributions made by Italo-Canadians both on and off the field.
In addition to the celebrations, Italian Heritage Month is also a time to remember the hardships faced by Italian-Canadians who struggled to immigrate to Vancouver, build their lives and businesses, and contribute to our city. Among these hardships was the internment of 44 Italians who lived in Vancouver and were taken from their families and sent to camps in the early 1940s.