The Surrey Vaisakhi Parade celebrates the Punjabi New Year in April. The Sikh festival attracts over 300,000 people from across the Metro Vancouver region.
In 2023 the parade took place on Saturday, April 22nd, which coincidentally was the same day as Earth Day this year. As many as half a million people are believed to have attended, which is amazing!. The Vancouver Vaisakhi Festival also happened in 2023. The event in South Vancouver took place on Saturday, April 15th.
Continue reading to learn more about the event in Surrey.
This article includes information on the following topics:
Parade Details | Parade Participants | Festival Carnival | Carnival Details | Vaisakhi Festival Videos | Tips and Advice | Other Information
Surrey Vaisakhi Parade and Festival
Also known as the Surrey Khalsa Day Parade, the Surrey Vaisakhi Parade is the largest event of its kind in the world outside the Punjab. It’s a must-see experience for Vancouverites!
The Surrey Vaisakhi Festival is certainly not an event just for people of Indian, Pakistani and Sikh backgrounds. It’s an amazing cultural event for everyone!
Vaisakhi is a harvest festival celebrated primarily in Northern India, but in other parts of the Indian subcontinent too. It coincides with the Indian Solar New Year and is an important holiday for Sikhs, but also for Hindus as well as people of other faiths.
Further below you’ll find information about what happens specifically at the Vaisakhi Festival in Surrey.
OTHER SURREY UPCOMING EVENTS!
The Surrey Vaisakhi Festival is the big event in Surrey this month. There are significant and exciting events in the city next month too! There is both a circus and a rodeo!
The Royal Canadian International Circus is a great circus and it’s in Surrey at Guildford Town Centre from May 4th until May 7th this year. It’s also in both Vancouver and Richmond later in May. It’s a great circus and highly recommended! (TIP: Use the promo code VANSBESTPLACES to get 2-for-1 pricing on general admission at the circus!)
The Cloverdale Rodeo & Country Fair also happens in Surrey in May. It takes place at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds on the Victoria Day Long Weekend of May 19th to 22nd.
Surrey Vaisakhi Parade Details
The Surrey Vaisakhi Parade is an annual event around the third week of April. It’s primarily a Sikh cultural celebration and one of the Lower Mainland’s largest annual events.
The parade route begins and finishes at 12885 85th Avenue, at Surrey’s Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar Temple.
In 2023 the Surrey Vaisakhi Parade happened on Saturday, April 22nd (which was exactly one week after the Vancouver Vaisakhi Festival in South Vancouver). The event in Surrey began at 9:30 am, with the procession finishing back at the Temple by around 4:00 pm, plus or minus.
From the temple the procession usually heads south along 128th Street, then west at the BC Hydro (Newton) Railway line, and then along 82nd Avenue. From there it heads south down 124th Street, west via 75th and 76th Avenues, and then back up 128th Street to the Temple. (For a map of the route click 2023 Vaisakhi Parade Map.)
A wonderful feature of the Vaisakhi Festival is the fact that businesses and homeowners along the route offer parade participants (and the crowd in general) all kinds of free food! Everything from ice cream to pizza, bags of chips and full plates of curry is given out in a typical year, all for free!
Vaisakhi Parade Participants
The Surrey Vaisakhi Festival only has about 20 organizations with entries in the parade. The 20 or so parade entries, however, include over 2500 participants (which means an average of about 125 people per entry). The procession goes slowly, and the route is a fair distance, which explains why the parade lasts pretty much all day.
Typical participants in the Surrey Vaisakhi Parade include the following:
- A 60-member Sikh marching band playing classic instruments from the Punjab.
- The Canadian Armed Forces
- The Parshaad (Sikh Food Offering) where volunteers from the Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar Temple distribute sweets to people on the street.
- Sri Guru Granth Sahib Ji, which is a float that carries holy Sikh scriptures.
- The Sikh Motorcycle Club
Other parade entries are various organizations and school groups singing hymns, dancing and showcasing other elements of Sikh and Punjabi culture.
Past Vaisakhi Parade Participants
Some of the organizations that participated in the 2019 parade included the following (and future events will be similar):
- The Sikh Riders – a Lower Mainland-based motorcycle club.
- Gatka Demonstration – featuring children demonstrating a traditional form of Sikh martial arts.
- Parshaad – a float from the Gurdwara Dasmesh Darbar Temple offering traditional Sikh foods to people along the parade route.
- Guru Granth Sahib – the main and culturally most significant float in the procession. It carries the Guru Granth Sahib, the 11th Guru of the Sikhs, which is holy scripture of the Sikh religion.
- Har Jus Kirtan – a parade entry with over a hundred members singing traditional hymns.
- Kirtan Float – another float with people performing traditional Sikh hymns.
- Khalsa School – students from the private Sikh school perform traditional hymns and dances during the parade.
- Sikh Army Float – an entry honoring the contributions of the Sikh community in military service both in Canada and around the world.
- Khalsa Float – an entry honoring the Khalsa and its mission to “uplift humanity, engage in the provision of equality and human rights, and to ensure a world free from discrimination.”
- Mamta Foundation – a charity that does projects around the world benefiting children.
- Sikh Human Rights Float – a float by a group that advocates for equality and basic human rights. Their parade entry features a different era of Sikh history each year.
- TransLink – the public transit service has a couple of buses within the parade procession that older folk are welcome to get on and ride (so they can get from different points along the route without having to walk the whole way).
- Surrey Food Bank – the non-profit collects non-perishable food item donations along the way.
- Sikh Motorcycle Club – a second Lower Mainland-based bike club.
Surrey Vaisakhi Festival Carnival
The parade on the Saturday is the main event which attracts hundreds of thousands of people to the streets of Surrey during the Vaisakhi holiday season. In addition to the parade, however, most years, there is also a multi-day carnival element with amusement rides.
Surrey’s Dashmesh Gurdwara Vaisakhi Festival carnival usually runs for the week or so leading up to the weekend of the parade. The carnival didn’t happen in 2020, 2021, or 2022, but did in 2023. Weather permitting, this year there were amusement rides from April 13th (which is the official day of Vaisakhi each year) and April 23rd (which is the day after the Surrey Vaisakhi Parade in 2023).
During the multi-day Vaisakhi celebrations there is usually a carnival outside the Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar Temple which is the starting point of the Saturday parade. The carnival is run by Shooting Star Amusements and includes rides and a midway.
Continue reading to learn more about the carnival.
Vaisakhi Carnival Details
Below are details about the carnival and amusement rides at the Surrey Vaisakhi Festival. As mentioned above, the carnival and rides happen in 2023 between April 13th and 23rd. Weather permitting, the attraction is open every day except for Monday, April 17th.
The carnival takes place beside the Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar Temple. The temple’s address is 12885 85th Avenue.
Carnival Hours and Dates
Below are the tentative hours of operation for the amusement rides and midway in 2023. Opening and closing times each day were subject to change based on weather and attendance levels.
- Thursday, April 13th, 2023 – 4:00 to 9:00 pm
- Friday, April 14th, 2023 – 3:00 to 10:00 pm
- Saturday, April 15th, 2023 – 12:00 to 10:00 pm
- Sunday, April 16th, 2023 – 12:00 to 9:00 pm
- Monday, April 17th, 2023 – Closed
- Tuesday, April 18th, 2023 – 3:00 to 9:00 pm
- Wednesday, April 19th, 2023 – 3:00 to 9:00 pm
- Thursday, April 20th, 2023 – 3:00 to 9:00 pm
- Friday, April 21st, 2023 – 3:00 to 10:00 pm
- Saturday, April 22nd, 2023 – 12:00 to 10:00 pm
- Sunday, April 23rd, 2023 – 12:00 to 5:00 pm
Carnival Admission Prices
In 2023 tickets cost $4.50 per ride or $30.00 for an all-day wristband. (Note: Exact prices were subject to change.)
Types of Amusement Rides
Typical rides at the carnival include the Tilt-A-Whirl, Kreepy Kastle (i.e., haunted house), The Sizzler, The Zipper, Zero Gravity, The Lightning Bolt, Berry-Go-Round and Elephants & Jets. There is also usually a Ferris wheel and bumper cars.
FOOD TRUCK FESTIVAL IN CLOVERDALE
The Surrey Block Party is a food truck festival-style event that takes place at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds on June 3rd and 4th in 2023. At the event there are over 20 food trucks as well as a beer garden, live entertainment and artisan vendors.
Surrey Vaisakhi Festival Videos
For an idea of what the Surrey Vaisakhi Festival looks like, see the video below.
For a photo slideshow video of the event, which includes different scenes from the video above, click Surrey Vaisakhi Parade Video.
To get an idea about how the Surrey festival compares with Vancouver’s version of the same event, which takes place one week earlier, click Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade Video.
Tips and Advice
Below are some tips to help you make the most out of your Surrey Vaisakhi experience.
Things to Consider in Advance
TIP #1: Take public transit to the event if you can, or pack your bikes on your car, park far away, and then cycle to the parade. Parking your car close to the parade route is nearly impossible! Click Road Closure Information to learn about what to expect regarding driving conditions on the day.
TIP #2: If you have small children in a stroller, don’t expect to get around easily along the parade route. There will be tens if not hundreds of thousands of people jam packed in the main streets.
TIP #3: Don’t worry about packing a lunch, unless you don’t like curry or bags of chips. A wonderful tradition of the festival is that businesses and even residents in the area hand out free snacks and food!
Other Things to Know and Consider
TIP #4: The parade attracts hundreds of thousands of people and the streets get packed. Stay close to your children so they don’t get lost in the crowd, and prearrange a meeting spot in case you do.
TIP #5: “Dhanwad” (or “Tuhāḍā dhanavāda”) is the word for “thank you” in Punjabi in case you want to use it after receiving free food from people on the street.
TIP #6: Carnival rides at the Surrey Vaisakhi Festival are non-refundable and non-exchangeable. The no-refund policy also applies in cases of extreme weather and early closure. Consequently, if it looks like a serious storm is on its way, be warned!
TIP #7: Shooting Stars Amusements’ ride tickets never expire – or at least that has been the case in the past. Consequently, if you do find you have extra (non-wristband) tickets left over, keep them for next year or some other future event featuring Shooting Stars Amusements rides.
TIP #8: The carnival rides are busiest on the weekends, on the parade day and on days when it’s not raining.
To learn more about the event in Surrey, see the Surrey Vaisakhi Parade website.
Vancouver also has a Vaisakhi parade most years taking place between the Ross Street Temple by Marine Drive and Punjabi Market at Main Street and 49th Avenue. In normal years, the Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade takes place one week before the Surrey parade. It too attracts as many as a couple hundred thousand participants.
Click Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade for photos and further information about the Vancouver event.
To learn more about Vaisakhi and its history, see our main article about Lower Mainland Vaisakhi Festival Parades. The article includes information about both the Vancouver and Surrey Vaisakhi events, but also more extensive details about the meaning of the event.
For lists of other events and things to do in the Lower Mainland, check out any of the following:
- Vancouver’s April Calendar
- Festivals & Events Calendar
- History and Culture in the Lower Mainland
- Free Things to do in April