Metro Vancouver’s 5X Festival
Running since 2004, including under its previous name until 2017, the 5X Festival is an annual multi-day festival.
Historically, the event’s focus has been on sharing Punjabi culture, music and dance with the greater community. Today the focus is on celebrating South Asian arts in general.
Festival Dates and Location
The 5X Festival was scheduled to take place from June 11th until the 14th in 2020 (although the festival happened in a mostly online format because of the COVID-19 pandemic).
The festival took place at multiple venues in 2019 including at both Celebrities Nightclub and The Beaumont Studios in Vancouver, and at Surrey’s Central City Plaza and the Surrey Arts Centre Studio Theatre. 2021 will likely be similar.
The 2019 5X Festival featured seven main events: the 5X Pre-Party, 5X Art Party, 5X Movie Night, 5X Womxns Showcase, 2 Vs 2 Bhangra Competition, 5X Block Party and 5X Creates. 2021 will likely be similar.
Details for the 2019 event are listed below (but were subject to change).
5X Pre-Party (May 31, 2019)
The 5X Pre-Party took place in Vancouver on Friday, May 31st, at Celebrities Nightclub (which is famous for its night life and LGBTQ+ culture). It was a South Asian-themed party with some of the city’s top DJs that kicked off the festival a couple of weeks early.
5X Art Party (June 12, 2019)
The 5X Art Party took place on Wednesday, June 12th, from 7 pm until midnight at Vancouver’s Beaumont Studios at 316 West 5th Avenue. Tickets cost about $22 and the event involved visual arts, photography, fashion and a team of young South Asian artists.
5X Movie Night (June 13, 2019)
5X Movie Night happened at the Beaumont Studios at 316 West 5th Avenue on Thursday June 13th. At the event a small number of short South Asian-themed films were shown. In 2019 they were the Drone & the Kid (a US/Pakistan collaboration), The Bus Stop (from Canada), Pagg (from the US) and Rani (a US/Pakistan collaboration).
The event ran from 8 until 10 pm and cost $10 (plus online fees).
5X Womxns Showcase (June 14, 2019)
The 5X Womxns Showcase happened at the Beaumont Studios from 8:00 until around 11:30 pm. The event featured local female musicians and addressed the problem of the entertainment industry being male-dominated. People of all genders and sexual persuasions were invited to attend. Only folk who self-identify as female though were welcome to speak at the microphone.
This was an adults-only (ages 19+) event and tickets cost $10 plus online fees.
2 Vs 2 Bhangra Competition (June 14-15, 2019)
The 2 Vs 2 Bhangra Competition was on the weekend of June 14-15 in 2019.
On Saturday, June 14th, rounds 1 and 2 of the competition ran from 6 to 9 pm. On June 15th the competition finals took place from 1 until 3 pm. Both events took place in the theatre at Kwantlen Park Secondary at 10441 132nd Street in Surrey.
The 5X Festival’s 2 Vs 2 Bhangra Competition involved three dozen Bhangra dance teams who battled it out for cash prizes of $1000, $500 and $250. (Note: auditions for the event took place in advance via online video submissions.)
5X Block Party (June 15, 2019)
The 5X Block Party was a block party at Central City Plaza at 13450 102nd Avenue on Saturday, June 15th, from 3 until 9 pm. It was a free event that featured local DJs, Bhangra dancing and other fun stuff!
5X Creates (June 16, 2019)
A panel discussion and workshop, 5X Creates offered an opportunity for people to learn from South Asians who are at the top of their games in music, social media and other artistic platforms. It took place at the Surrey Arts Centre Studio Theatre at 13750 88th Avenue.
The event began at noon and went until 5:30 pm. Admission was free, but space was limited so attendees were advised to register in advance.
What is Bhangra?
Bhangra is a style of East Indian music and folk dance from the Punjab region of Pakistan and India that became popular in the 1970s and 1980s in Great Britain.
Originally performed frequently in the Punjab by labourers, Bhangra served as a way for young folk to bridge social and racial divides, connect people with their cultural heritage and strengthen local communities through the dance and music.
Since 2004, the City of Bhangra Festival continued the tradition of connecting people – the mission of the organisation behind the event has been to educate, foster community engagement and stimulate artistic innovation. Today, the 5X Festival continues the tradition.
For more information about the event in Vancouver and Surrey, see the 5X Festival website.
If you like Bhangra, East Indian culture and this kind of event, other local East Indian cultural events you’ll probably enjoy include the following:
For information about other kinds of events throughout the year, see Vancouver’s Festivals and Events Calendar.