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New West’s summer block party is back after a two-year break

Fridays on Front will see Downtown New Westminster transform into the perfect place to unwind with good music, delicious food, exciting art, and more — every Friday evening, starting July 8.

Diving into the weekend just got a lot more fun.

Fridays on Front street parties on Front Street will provide the perfect opportunity to shoot the breeze with a friend over a chilled beer, enjoy live music by the riverfront, or browse through local artists’ works. All this while grabbing a bite from one of the many food trucks at the venue, or New West’s own local eateries like Gastronomia Italia and Donuteria, among others. 

While the fully-licensed event allows adults to swill a beverage from Steel and Oak Brewery and Pacific Breeze Winery, kids can engage in a series of fun activities organized by the non-profit New West Family Place. 

Fridays on Front parties have been happening in Downtown New Westminster annually since 2017 — though the event was cancelled the last two years due to COVID. 

Kendra Johnston, executive director of Downtown New Westminster Business Improvement Association — one of the presenters of Fridays on Front — said the event was conceptualized as a way to bring people back to Front Street. Turns out, a long period of excessive construction work in the area back in the day had people avoiding it altogether. 

The event did its magic, and thousands showed up at these Friday evening parties, Johnston recalled.

After a two-year no-show, the New West community wanted it to return the way it was, she added. The event has now finally returned — this time, having partnered with more businesses and not-for-profit organizations. 

What’s different at Fridays on Front this year?

”We've just tried to stretch ourselves and partner with as many folks as possible so that this event can be even a truer reflection of community than it ever has been before,” said Johnston, who has been a Downtown New West resident for two decades.

Between now and the last time the New West community gathered for a Fridays on Front party in 2019, a lot has happened.

“The world has changed...," as Johnston put it. "So, one of our goals at this event is to be as inclusive as possible with the community,” she added. While before, they simply booked the musicians performing at the event through the Arts Council, this time, they partnered with Bully’s Studios and UCASS who put together a community jury to choose the music lineup. 

“This time, we really felt it was important that the community had input into things like the weekly music lineup. So that's a big change. We're excited about it,” she said.

The event is a way to welcome the community that helped local businesses survive through the last couple of years.

“Downtown New West has had a tough time through the pandemic, like most communities. I think that our sense of community is very strong. And that's definitely helped the businesses.”

Having attended all the previous Fridays on Front street parties, what Johnston looks forward to most as the event relaunches this Friday is the opportunity to see people again.

"It's been a lonely few years. To be able to gather safely again feels really positive — for our community, for our businesses, and just for everyone's mental health.”

Fridays on Front will take place on the Front Street Mews, between Sixth and McKenzie streets, from 5 to 9 p.m. every Friday (except July 29) from July 8 to Aug. 19. The venue is a short walk from the Columbia and New West SkyTrain stations.

Visit Downtown New Westminster’s website for more details.