Welcome back to Italian Day on the Drive!

2023 Theme

Renaissance • Rinascimento

After 3 years without the Italian Day festival, due to pandemic and related restrictions, we are pleased to share our Rinascimento in 2023, when the signature 14 block cultural street festival is set to return on Sunday, June 11 2023!

As many would agree, the past few years have been defined by unprecedented challenges on many levels, locally and worldwide. Returning to the simple pleasures of community, celebration and culture, does not only just offer the revival of Italian Day, but also a rebirth of life, as symbolized by this year’s theme. Like the butterfly, a symbol of transformation, one can ultimately extend the literal meaning of Renaissance as a representation of hope and new beginnings. Something we all need, and elements we seek to embrace with ‘famiglia’, food, wine, music, activities and conversations, grateful in spirit and hopeful in feel good experiences reborn.

New beginnings too, not just in the revival and the respective sense of hope, but also in the significant changes the past few years have created in the event industry, and even on the landscape of Commercial Drive. An opportunity for us to come back with new wings, content and perspective, and where the Drive will once again come alive in green, white and red to celebrate Italian heritage, culture and community.


re – ‘back again’ + naissance – ‘birth’ from Latin nascentia, from nasci ‘be born’

rebirth, revival, new beginning


rinascere – ‘to be born again’
mento forms nouns that represent the action of a related verb

revival, renaissance

Get Involved

Italian Day History

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 100+ 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 with piazza style animated zones, live music, food vendors, patios, lifestyle attractions, family fun activities and more.

The event serves to also honour the history and contributions of Italian immigrants 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, Italo-Canadians have offered some of Italy’s well known assets in quality workmanship, dedicated work ethic, and passion for family, community and life.

Mangia Bene, Ridi Spesso, Ama Molto
Eat well, Laugh often, Love in Abundance

The Drive: Home to Little Italy

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

Italian Day Gives Back

At-Risk Youth

East End Boys and Girls Club

For several years, the Italian Day Festival Society has been supporting at-risk youth by way of annual donations to East End Boys and Girls Club, a local non-profit youth leadership programs (for ages 13 – 19), founded and led by community leader and former teacher, Jimmy Crescenzo. In total we have contributed close to $20,000 via partial raffle proceeds and sponsor donations to help support skills training and mentorship programs.


Italian Day on The Drive for Courage

Coast Mental Health Foundation

In April 2020, Italian Day on The Drive for Courage was born as we watched and were inspired by Italians uniting in song from Italy’s balconies and rooftops with uplifting music in one of its first lockdowns. Instead of balconies and rooftops, in the summer of 2020, we delivered a ‘pop-up’ series of music concerts on a large moving float, while living similar restrictions here. The goal was to share messages of love, hope and courage using the universal language of music, while raising awareness on mental health. Italian Day also raised $10,000 via sponsor partnerships as a donation to the Coast Mental Health Foundation, whose fundraising event too had been cancelled as a result of the pandemic, impacting critical funding for client services at a much needed time.

Italian Day Raffle

Thanks to supporting sponsors, Italian Day each year gives away fabulous prizes via our raffle, totalling close to $10,000.

Italian Day on The Drive

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.

Become a Sponsor

We offer engaging opportunities and benefits to sponsors and invite you to be a partner in Italian Day’s 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 on The Drive coming Sunday, June 11, 2023. Limited space available.Read More »

Support at Risk Youth

In support of our community, the Italian Day Festival Society seeks to help at-risk youth by raising critical funds to assist local Youth Mentorship Programs – East End Boys and Girls Club.Read More »
Boys Club


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