By Brunella Gaudio
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
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!