The North Shore’s most colourful annual Festival is happening Saturday July 26 and Sunday July 27 at Waterfront Park in North Vancouver from 11am to 7pm.
Now in its 26th year, this FREE annual event is a celebration of the Caribbean and its multicultural society. Presented by Trinidad and Tobago Cultural Society of BC, this festival is the largest Caribbean Festival in western Canada.
What began as a picnic in the park has evolved over the years and is now a full weekend of Caribbean style fun. The Festival includes a Multicultural Parade, Island entertainment on the Main Stage, authentic Caribbean cuisine, an outdoor International Marketplace, Beer Garden, Kids Rides and more. Attracting some 50,000 festival fans over the weekend, this event celebrates all things Caribbean during the heat of our Vancouver summer. It offers something for the entire family and is suitable for all ages.
Saturday morning kicks off with the “Mas” Multicultural Parade that starts at 10am. Costumed celebrants travel south from Victoria Park on Lonsdale Avenue and then east on Esplanade Avenue to Waterfront Park. There’s plenty of room along the parade route to stake out your ideal viewing spot. Don’t forget to bring your camera!
The parade costumes are spectacular in style and colour, as well as in their imaginative designs. Most are hand-made by enthusiastic participants and some costumes literally travel from carnival to carnival. Live steel bands on decorated trucks provide the musical backdrop that runs throughout the entire weekend. And the North Shore setting is spectacular!
Once the parade has reached its end at Waterfront Park the festivities and fun kick into high gear. The International Marketplace showcases a myriad of products, clothes, food products, trinkets and more. Perfect for shoppers who love to browse and find unique gift items.
Always popular, the Islands and International Food Fair is the spot where expats and locals can treat themselves to a variety of authentic Caribbean meals and much more. You’ll find it on the north side of the Park, along with the “de rigueur” Festival Beer Garden which is always well-stocked with Carib beer.
A big attraction for many attendees are the tropical sounds and general vibe of the Caribbean that pulsates and energizes the Lower Lonsdale area all weekend long. While the Park is pulsating Saturday, Lonsdale Quay Market Plaza will be open for business and offering dance demonstrations and lessons between 2pm and 5pm. Featured dances include the Merengue, Salsa and Bachata.
Later in the day when Waterfront Park winds down at 7pm, the nearby Shipyard Square just east of Lonsdale Quay, comes alive with its “Summer Sessions” evening of entertainment. “The Boom Booms” will be the headliners at this party, a well-known Vancouver soul band who have been influenced by Damian Marley and Bill Withers. These guys are HOT!! There will be Zumba for all led by the North Shore “Z” crew. Painters at The Pier, art instruction for kids, Giant Jenga and family activities abound. A beer garden and food trucks will also be on site. Live music will continue from 7pm to 10pm.
On Sunday afternoon, the Lonsdale Quay Market continues its weekend of Island spirit featuring live Afro-Latin music on the waterfront plaza.
Over at the Festival in Waterfront Park, Island entertainers including musicians, singers, and dancers, including popular local Caribbean groups will bring out everyone’s Caribbean sensibilities all weekend long. Tropical rhythms will get you swaying and dancing as the air resonates with Soca, Reggae, Calypso and Latin sounds. The north side of park also has a family area with kids rides, face painting and more. For a preview of what you can expect to experience take a look at our Caribbean Days video.
With so much activity we recommend you plan to come to Lower Lonsdale and Waterfront Park via Public Transit and/or the SeaBus. From downtown Vancouver it’s just a 12 minute cruise to the North Shore. This approach is a sure way to get you into the “island” spirit. If you’re already on the North Shore, we recommend that you walk, bike, or take transit as parking is limited in the area.
This year should prove to be the biggest Caribbean Days Festival weekend party ever. Hope to see you there…..you might even spot yours truly in the crowd – I’ll be the one wearing sunglasses and a hat.