Celebrating Italian Culture, Heritage and Community

Sunday, June 14, 2020
12pm – 8pm

Held annually on the second Sunday of June and identified in the City of Vancouver’s list of Official Observances and Celebrations under June’s Italian Heritage Month umbrella, Italian Day on The Drive is a vibrant cultural street festival celebrating Italian culture, heritage and community.   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.
 
Mangia Bene, Ridi Spesso, Ama Molto
Eat well, Laugh often, Love in Abundance
Get Involved
Italian Day on The Drive

2020 Theme

Italian Day Celebrates 10 Year Anniversary (2010 – 2020)

Honouring the past, seizing the present and inspiring the future – Italian Day on The Drive celebrates its 10th Anniversary on Sunday, June 14, 2020, marking 10 years since its return!

Motivated by a handful of passionate Italian-Canadians and community leaders, the Italian Day Festival Society was formed in 2010 with the objective of reviving the Italian cultural festivals which characterized Commercial Drive in the late 70s and early 80s, paying tribute to the Italian culture and immigrants who came to Canada to escape post-war poverty with nothing but a suitcase, a dream and courage to create a better life for their families. Many Italians came using Canadian labour shortage opportunities and kinship networks to bring over entire families between 1950 – 1970, a generation representing the largest of the three waves of Italian immigration which began almost a century prior. Although Italian immigrants were met with a number of challenges, a vibrant Italian-Canadian community emerged, significantly contributing to the building of Vancouver and the nation.

Since Italian Day’s return 10 years ago, the event has evolved and grown in many ways, paved by annual themes introduced for the first time in 2011 with La Dolce Vita, followed by La Dolce Vita meets Euro Cup (2012), Carnevale (2013), Made in Italy (2014), ART (2015), Mangiamo! (2016), Amore (2017), Musica (2018) and Comunità (2019). Themes selected represent elements which form the foundation of Italian culture, and their mark on history and global appeal. Thematic elements also designed to serve as conduits to local conversations, as well as a platform for multi-cultural and multi-generational exchanges and positive experiences, including the promotion of cultural and economic bridges between Vancouver and Italy.

The Italian Day Festival Society is proud of what we have achieved in terms of the festival’s community embrace and success, as well as the pivotal role the festival has played in Commercial Drive’s Little Italy heritage designation and crosswalks marking the 8 block district. Festivals such as Italian Day possess the ability to have a huge community impact, not only culturally and economically, but also as a vehicle of positive social influence, inspiring a future generation to become involved and contribute to our community and festival as well. And of course … to carry on the tradition of how to throw an Italian-style festa with over 300,000+ attendees where for a day – we can all be Italian! We thank you and welcome you in joining us for 2020 as we celebrate our 10 year anniversary with family, food, laughter, wine, music, dance, design, activities, hugs, kisses and a love for life and community, where la vita e sempre dolce.

Buon 10° anniversario Italian Day!
Festeggiamo insieme – Domenica, 14 Giugno 2020!

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.

Italian Day on The Drive

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.

See 2019 Attractions here

Italian Day Raffle

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.

Italian Day on The Drive

Italian Heritage Month

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 CentreConsulate 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.

Become a Sponsor

We offer engaging opportunities and benefits to sponsors and invite you to be a partner in Italian Days cultural celebration, community embrace and success.Read More »
Italian Day on The Drive

Vendor Participation

Italian food and products are always a favourite for attendees. Become a vendor or exhibitor at Italian Day and indulge an estimated 300,000 people throughout the day.Read More »
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Support at Risk Youth

In support of the Comunità theme, the Italian Day Festival Society seeks to help at-risk youth by raising critical funds to assist local Youth Mentorship Programs at Templeton Secondary School.Read More »
Boys Club

Volunteers

Our volunteers are a valuable component of Italian Day’s success. Join the Italian Day street team, share your smile and time, and be rewarded for your contributions.Read More »
Italian Day Volunteers