Taking place at Vancouver’s Concord Pacific Place and featuring Latin food and live concerts, Carnaval del Sol is a grand family-friendly fiesta in August.
WHAT’S HAPPENING IN 2020?
Unlike most other major events this summer, Carnaval del Sol isn’t letting the coronavirus stop Vancouver from celebrating Latin American culture in 2020. The event is still going ahead, although in modified formats.
There is no major festival at Concord Pacific Place this summer as there is most years. There are, however, a few smaller live events taking place at a number of different venues, plus a variety of online activities featuring people and places from all across the Americas. Vancouver Latin American restaurants are also offering special menu deals.
Carnaval del Sol in 2020
Carnaval del Sol is one of Vancouver’s most successful and fun events, as well as the largest Latin festival in the entire Pacific Northwest!
In past years the event has happened in July on the weekend after Canada Day. In 2020, however, Carnaval del Sol was scheduled to take place a month later, on the weekend of August 7th to 9th. Due to the spread of COVID-19, however, the festivities are now taking place both online and in-person between July 15th and August 9th (so for an even longer period of time than originally planned).
For a video of the event from past years, click Carnaval del Sol Video.
Carnaval del Sol
In a typical year, Carnaval del Sol is a 2-day festival that takes place at Concord Pacific Place by False Creek near BC Place Stadium. At the event, tens of thousands of people turn out to enjoy Vancouver’s best Latin music, dancing, food and fiesta atmosphere.
Most years, Latin American Week happens during the seven or so days prior to Carnaval del Sol. Last year the week took place from late June until early July. Various activities take place on different days. There is usually a salsa or tango dance night, an evening boat party and a number of other events, with Carnaval del Sol at the end.
In 2020 there isn’t an official “Latin American Week.” Instead, the activities that usually happen during that week have been incorporated into the now larger and expanded Carnaval del Sol.
In years when there isn’t a global pandemic, on the Saturday of the weekend of Carnaval del Sol music and dance performances typically run from approximately 10 am until 10 pm, and on the Sunday from 11 am until 9 pm. Although the gates open early, late afternoon and early evening are when things really get fun and interesting at the Concord Pacific Place venue. (Note: 2021 times may vary.)
Click Carnaval del Sol for the event’s official website.
Admission to Carnaval del Sol
General admission to the festival at Concord Pacific Place last year cost $2, although it was free for children ages 12 and under. Super Pass Access tickets were also available for $15 and they included a number of benefits. 2021 details will likely be similar.
With a Super Pass guests got priority access to the Carnaval del Sol venue, the Beer Garden and to the festival’s special VIP area. They also got access to the Jose Cuervo Lounge, which offered a premium view of the Main Stage, plus a complimentary Paloma drink, an assortment of souvenirs and food samples in the Experience Plaza.
In years when the large, live and in-person festival does take place, admission to Carnaval del Sol can be paid at the gate using cash, debit cards or credit.
What Happens at the Carnaval?
In a typical year there is so much to do and see at Carnaval del Sol. At the festival on the weekend there are multiple plazas set up at Concord Pacific Place with stages for entertainment, food, live music and dance performances throughout the weekend.
Activities at Carnaval del Sol usually include live music and other performing arts shows featuring close to 400 different performers.
In addition to multiple concerts, there are also dancers from different countries performing a range of dance styles including Zumba, Folklore and more.
At Carnaval del Sol there is also usually a Family Plaza (where a Latin American-inspired fashion show is often showcased), children’s activities in the Kids’ Plaza, and refreshments for those 19+ in the Beer Plaza featuring Latin American beverages.
In past years, right at the festival’s main venue, there has been a Sports Plaza where ten teams of five players competed in a friendly mini soccer tournament for the coveted Carnaval del Sol Latin American Cup. In 2019, instead of playing on the pavement at Concord Pacific Place, the tournament took place at nearby Andy Livingstone Park at 89 Expo Boulevard (which is close to Chinatown and a much better place to play).
In short, expect Carnaval del Sol to be a ton of fun, with tasty foods, great music and lots of culturally-stimulating entertainment.
For more information on the event see the Carnaval del Sol website.
2019 Scheduled Performances
In a typical year, live performances take place all day on both days of the weekend festival. Below is a list of 2019’s entertainment highlights. The 2021 lineup will likely be comparable.
(Note: times and performer details are subject to change.)
- Axe Capoeira – a music, dance and Brazilian martial arts group with performances on July 6th at 1 pm and July 7th at 3 pm
- Breaking Boundaries – a Colombian group which also performed at Carnaval del Sol last year
- Grupo America
- John Welsh & Los Valientes – a popular group playing a mix of Reggae, Calypso and Latin tunes on Saturday July 6th at 5 pm
- Mazacote – the West Coast Latin dance band performs at 8 pm on Sunday July 7th
- Mariachi Tabasko – a 6-person Mexican Mariachi band
- Orqesta Tabasko – a Colombian Salsa group
- Samba Fusion – a high-energy group of Brazilian Samba dancers
- Tatiana Ramirez
- Wasakaka All Stars – a Vancouver-based Salsa orchestra that’s returning to Carnaval del Sol for another year
Groups that performed the previous year included the following:
- Matices Del Sur
- Bloco Energia – a Brazilian percussion group
- Robin Layne – a percussionist and marimba player
- Los Duendes
- Gabriel Palatchi
- Flamenco Rosario – Argentinian dancers
- Pacifika – a World Fusion, Latin Alternative group
- Sambacouver – a Vancouver-based Brazilian group
- Camaro 67 – an Afrofunk band
- Nahualli Folklore – Mexican folklore dancers
- TANGA – a World Fusion group
- Kutapira – a Vancouver-based Marimba band
- Celina Cruz – a Nicaraguan-born singer
- Locarno – a Mexican Folk, Cuban, Son and Latin Soul band
Background to Carnaval del Sol
Carnaval del Sol is produced by Latincouver, a Latin American organization in Vancouver which brings together Latin Americans from all countries as well as Latin enthusiasts living in Canada.
The first Carnaval del Sol event was in 2009 at Vancouver’s Hellenic Community Centre and it was attended by just 500 people. For a few years since then the event has taken place on Granville Street in downtown Vancouver, and then for the last few years at Concord Pacific Place.
Today Carnaval del Sol attracts up to 100,000 attendees each year and is one of the Lower Mainland’s largest and most vibrant festivals.
Click Latin American Week for information about other related events happening the week leading up to Carnaval del Sol.
If you love this kind of festival, another similar event is the Caribbean Days Festival in late July in North Vancouver, not to mention all the many other great festivals listed on Vancouver’s Best Places’ calendar of Festivals and Events.
Vancouver’s Latin Restaurants
Vancouver is a cosmopolitan city with people from all over the world including from all parts of Latin America. In fact, Metro Vancouver is home to close to 40,000 residents of Latin American and Caribbean origin, and they love their food!
Looking for some of the region’s best restaurants? Then check out Vancouver’s best Latin American and Mexican Restaurants.
To learn more about Carnaval del Sol click carnavaldelsol.ca.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver’s July and August Calendars
- Lower Mainland Festivals & Events
- Shows & Entertainment Calendar
- Vancouver History and Culture
- Vancouver on a Budget