The Lower Mainland celebrates the Diwali Festival every autumn with East Indian cultural celebrations taking place in Vancouver, Surrey and elsewhere.
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Diwali Festival in Vancouver and Surrey
In 2019 Diwali Downtown Surrey took place on Saturday, October 5th. Diwali Downtown Vancouver, meanwhile, was on Saturday October 26th. Both were free or by donation.
In 2020, the events took place online. Diwali Downtown Surrey happened from 2 until 4 pm on November 1st, and Diwali Downtown Vancouver was on November 7th from 2 until 5 pm. 2021 dates and details are to be confirmed.
In years without pandemics, two of the biggest events during the festival each year are Diwali Downtown Surrey and Diwali Downtown Vancouver. Other Diwali Fest events take place throughout the region and include plays, storytelling, music and dance performances.
Some Diwali Fest events only attract a couple of dozen people or so, but the main Surrey event attracts one or two hundred, and the Vancouver one even more.
What is Diwali Fest?
An annual Hindu festival of lights celebrated in the fall sometime between mid-October and mid-November, Diwali is one of the largest and most important festivals in India. The festival is often celebrated with small clay lamps and other traditional art forms that symbolize good over evil.
In Vancouver the Diwali Celebration Society hosts Diwali Fest with the aim of uniting people from different cultures through celebratory events.
Diwali Fest is an arts and culture festival that provides an opportunity to experience different elements of South Asian culture. Spread out over the month and a half, and across the Lower Mainland, it’s a fair-sized festival overall made up of smaller individual events, some of which are free or by donation.
In a typical year, numerous events take place over the course of Diwali Fest, including two main ones – Diwali Downtown Surrey and Diwali Downtown Vancouver. Both are free events (or by donation) and feature dance performances, live music, ethnic foods and a wide variety of both contemporary and classical Indian and South Asian culture.
Diwali Downtown Surrey
Diwali Downtown Surrey took place at Surrey City Hall at 13450-104th Avenue on October 5th in 2019 from 2:00 to 5:00 pm. It also featured a variety of culturally-rich programming with interactive and multicultural performances. 2021 details are to be confirmed.
Diwali Downtown Surrey is usually free and includes activities of interest for all ages. It’s not a huge event, attracting less than a couple of hundred people at any given time most years. It features about a dozen vendors and community organization information booths though, along with live entertainment in the city council chambers.
Typical entertainment at Diwali Downtown Surrey includes belly dancing, singing, various Indian dance performances and sari-wearing demonstrations.
Diwali Downtown Vancouver
Diwali Downtown Vancouver usually takes place at the Roundhouse at 181 Roundhouse Mews in Yaletown. In 2019 it happened on October 26th from 12:30 to 4:30 pm. Activities generally include a variety of live music and dance performances. 2021 details are to be confirmed.
Diwali Downtown is usually the largest of the festival’s various free (and by donation) events. It generally offers the most performances, selection of vendor stalls and exhibits. There is also usually a bit of food to sample too.
At the event expect to be entertained by a selection of dancers and musicians, and to immerse yourself in a bit of East Indian culture. The experience is very interesting.
Not all performers at the event are of East Indian descent or origin. The performances themselves, however, are from or at least strongly influenced by the Indian subcontinent.
For more information about Diwali Fest, including event dates and other venues, check out the Diwali Celebration Society website.
For other opportunities to experience great cultural activities in the Lower Mainland, check out Vancouver’s best places for Culture and History.