A number of Car Free Day street festivals take place in Vancouver each summer including one on Commercial Drive between Venables and Grandview.
The street party on Commercial Drive normally takes place in July, or at least that’s when it happened in the last few years before COVID-19. In 2022, however, the event was on September 10th (but just between 1st Avenue and Grandview instead of from Venables).
Car Free Day on Commercial Drive
In 2020 the Commercial Drive Car Free Day event was scheduled to take place on Sunday, July 12th. Unfortunately, due to the outbreak of COVID-19, the event was cancelled. The 2021 festival had a new event called Car Free Month which featured small events between August 29th and September 25th.
In 2022 Commercial Drive Car Free Day returned in its regular format, but on a slightly smaller than usual scale, on Saturday, September 10th.
Other Car Free Day events include ones on Main Street and Denman Street in Vancouver, as well as others in Port Moody, Surrey, and New Westminster (formerly called the Columbia StrEAT Food Truck Festival). There is also North Vancouver Car Free Day, although that one is a tiny event that takes place alongside the much larger Shipyards Festival not far from Lonsdale Quay.
Time and Location
In 2020 the Commercial Drive Festival was supposed to take place on Sunday, July 12th. Up until 2016 the event was always on Father’s Day in June, the same day as the Main Street Car Free Day event. Since 2017, however, the Commercial Drive event happens later in the summer.
In 2022 the Commercial Drive Festival ran from 12:00 to 7:00 pm on Saturday, September 10th. In 2023 there is a good chance it’ll take place in September again, although exact details are to be confirmed.
Car Free Day on Commercial Drive takes place, as you might guess, on Vancouver’s Commercial Drive. It used to run (pre-pandemic) along the fifteen or so blocks between Grandview Highway and Venables Street. This past year though it was just between Grandview Highway and First Avenue. In 2023 it’ll likely be back up to its pre-pandemic size.
Getting to the Festival
As the festival emphasizes the importance of environmental awareness, try to visit the festival car free. There are many transit options very close to the festival including bus and SkyTrain routes.
Consult the TransLink website for exact transit scheduling.
In 2022 the Commercial Drive Car Free Day event featured live performances by local artists. The main stage was located at Commercial Drive and East 3rd Avenue. This past year’s schedule of performances is listed below.
- 12:00 pm – Vancouver Street Opera
- 1:00 pm – Mina Chan
- 2:00 pm – Ko-Ko (Kohei)
- 3:00 pm – Jason Qiu
- 4:00 pm – Claire’s Daughter
- 5:00 pm – John Michael Lind and Harold Henkel
About the Festival
The Commercial Drive event is Vancouver’s original Car Free Day event. It first took place in 2005. It’s an environmentally-friendly event where pedestrians retake the street and celebrate life without their cars.
Food trucks, vendors of all kinds and display tables from local businesses and community organizations line the street at Commercial Drive’s Car Free Day. There are street performers, musicians, beer gardens and tens of thousands of people.
The event is very family-friendly, with activities for children as well as adults. There are often games of road hockey and the young ones are welcome to play.
At the Car Free Day event in 2022 there were booths hosted by political organizations (because of the municipal elections in October) as well as lots of different non-profit groups.
Also lining the street were information booths for companies like Vancouver Mysteries and Forbidden Vancouver. The first is an outdoor adventure game company where you and your friends can be detectives, secret agents or superheroes. The other is a great walking tour company. These and other businesses had information about their services and prizes to give away.
Car Free Day Video
To give you an idea of what to expect at Car Free Day on Commercial Drive, check out the following video. It shows scenes of the event from 2022.
As you’ll see in the video below, on Car Free Day the street is full of people walking in the middle of the road. There are also a few characters in costume and lots of vendors and community organization information booths. At the event there are musicians at various spots along the street and games to play. You can win prizes, shop and learn about the neighbourhood at this and other Vancouver Car Free Day events.
To learn more about this event see the Vancouver Car Free Day website.
To learn more about the area see our article about Commercial Drive.
Another similar event on the same street earlier in the summer is Italian Day on the Drive. It normally happens in June and it too is a massive street party.
For details about similar Car Free Day events see our articles about the events on Main Street and Denman Street, or the events in Port Moody and Surrey. For information about Car Free Day events in North Vancouver, New Westminster and other areas, click Lower Mainland Car Free Days.
To see a list of other major events throughout the year, check out the Festivals & Events Calendar.