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Vancouver's massive Italian Day festival expecting 300,000 attendees

The huge street celebration celebrates all things Italy on this popular Vancouver street.
The Italian Day on the Drive event this June will see hundreds of thousands of attendees along the popular Vancouver street.

One of Vancouver's most popular streets will be painted red, white, and green for an annual festival this spring. 

Well, the street won't actually change colours, but it will be shut down for the beloved Italian Day on The Drive event, boasting everything Italy along 14 blocks of Commercial Drive.

While it was on hiatus during for pandemic, the long-standing staple event brings Vancouver's "Little Italy" to life with over 100 street participants, including partners, vendors, and community organizations. 

Organizers expect roughly 300,000 attendees will flood the street for the vibrant celebration, which will feature "animated zones, live music, food vendors, patios, lifestyle attractions, family fun activities and more."

Live music will play throughout the day, and there will be a number of patio areas to relax in during the celebration. From donuts to cannoli, pasta to gelato, visitors can sample seemingly endless foods as they make their way down the Drive.

The festival honours the history of Italian immigrants in Vancouver. In the 1940s and 1950s, Commercial Drive transformed into an Italian enclave, and several cultural celebrations and street parades were held until the 1980s. On July 11, 1982, Italy won the World Cup in football (soccer) and locals held the final Italian Day of that era to mark the occasion. 

This year, the festival will have the theme of "Rinascimento" (Rennaissance), marking its rebirth following the pandemic and as "a representation of hope and new beginnings" around the world.

The return of Italian Day is "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," write the organizers. 

The event takes place on the second Sunday of June, which is June 11 this year and is identified in the City of Vancouver’s list of Official Observances

Italian Day on The Drive

When: Sunday, June 11 from noon until 9 p.m.
Where: Commerical Drive from Venables Street to Grandview Highway
Cost: Free to attend