Italian Day returns in a village style setting on Sunday, August 28, 2022! – noon until 9pm!
The Italian Day Festival Society did not want to have another year slip by without offering some form of Italian Day festival celebrating Italian culture and heritage, as well as the community embrace it shares with everyone. Thus, we are pleased to announce a mini Italian Day in Grandview Park on Sunday, August 28th!
Commercial Drive will NOT be closed down to traffic, but we will have traffic closures on side streets around Grandview Park to accommodate vendors and other participants. Grandview Park and side streets will be fully activated in a village style setting to include all fan favourites: food stands and trucks; merchants and other vendors; live music and fashion; Il Giardino – food, wine and beer court; contests and activities; children’s area with crafts, and more.
A family fun and feel good experience, join us at Italian Day in Grandview Park – a day filled with a love for life as only the Italian culture and community can deliver.
Benvenuti a tutti!
Italian Day on The Drive 2023
More good news! The historic Italian Day on The Drive street festival is coming back to Commercial Drive in 2023, and we too are happy to share that planning starts with the City and key partners this summer (2022).
For those who have never experienced the essence of Italian Day on The Drive, it is a vibrant cultural street festival celebrating Italian culture, heritage and community, and traditionally held on the second Sunday in June during Italian Heritage Month. The event includes over 120 street participants, comprised of partners, vendors, community organizations – and an estimated 300,000 attendees of all ages and cultures. The festival is held on Commercial Drive (The Drive), home to Little Italy, where the street is transformed into a lively 14 block festa. Since Italian Day’s return in 2010, the event today represents the largest one-day cultural street festival in Vancouver. A festive community embrace, The Drive comes alive in green, white and red with piazza-style animated zones, live music, food vendors, patios, lifestyle attractions, family fun activities and more.
Italian Day on The Drive forms part of the City of Vancouver’s list of Official Observances and Celebrations under June’s Italian Heritage Month umbrella.
The event serves to also honour the history and contributions of our ancestors who came to Vancouver with nothing but a suitcase to make a better life for their families. From food to the fine arts, architectural landscape, and trades, early Italo-Canadian contributions offered to the City Vancouver Italy’s well known assets of quality workmanship, dedicated work ethic, and passion for family, community and life.
STAY TUNED FOR MORE 2023 UPDATES TO COME IN THE FALL!
Little Italy on The Drive
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.
Two years later, in 2018, Italian Day on The Drive is identified in the City of Vancouver’s list of Official Observances and Celebrations under the umbrella of Italian Heritage Month. And in 2019, 3 years following the Little Italy official designation, the Commercial Drive BIA, in partnership with the City of Vancouver and Fortis BC, unveiled Italian heritage crosswalks in the colours green, white and red at three Little Italy intersections: 1st Avenue, Charles Street and 4th Avenue. These heritage designations and landmarks were a primary result of Italian Day’s success, the advocacy of several Italo-Canadian community leaders, and general public support.
Attractions & Features
Italian Day on The Drive presents 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.
Italian Day Raffle
Thanks to supporting sponsors, Italian Day each year gives away fabulous prizes via our raffle, totalling close to $10,000.
Italian Heritage Month
June is Italian Heritage Month (IHM) and officially recognized in the City’s list of official observances and celebrations since 2018, when City Council passed a motion recognizing IHM.
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, the Italian Day Festival Society, Consulate General of Italy in Vancouver and the Italian Chamber of Commerce in Canada – West, 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.
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 more than 30 Italian men who lived in Vancouver and were taken from their families and sent to camps in the early 1940s.
On June 8th 2022, the Mayor on behalf of the City of Vancouver officially apologized for this injustice in the presence of several of the internees’ descendants in Council Chambers. The men were incarcerated as POWs without the benefit of private council representation; and where upwards to eighteen hundred Vancouverites, classified as Enemy Aliens, were required by government legislation to report monthly to the RCMP during Canada’s war with Italy.
A sad episode in history which relates to the internment and improper monitoring of Italian people living in Vancouver who were denied due process of the law circa 1940 – 1943.
We sincerely thank the Mayor and City Council for this official apology in June of 2022.