The Surrey Vaisakhi Parade celebrates the Punjabi New Year in mid-April every year and attracts up to 300,000 people from across the Metro Vancouver region.
Surrey Parade and Festival
Also known as the Surrey Khalsa Day Parade, the Surrey Vaisakhi Parade is in fact one of the largest of its kind in the world – outside the Punjab – and a must-see experience for Vancouverites.
The Surrey Vaisakhi Festival is certainly not an event just for people of East Indian and Sikh backgrounds – it’s an amazing event for everyone!
In 2018 the parade took place on Saturday, April 21st. In 2019 it’s tentatively scheduled for Saturday, April 20th.
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Surrey Vaisakhi Parade Details
The Surrey Vaisakhi Parade is an annual event around the third week of April each year. It’s a Sikh cultural celebration and one of the Lower Mainland’s largest festival events.
The parade route begins and finishes at 12885 85th Avenue, at Surrey’s Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar Temple.
From the temple the procession heads south along 128th Street, then west at the BC Hydro (Newton) Railway line and then along 8oth 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 parade route click Surrey Vaisakhi Map.
The parade starts at about 9 or 9:30 am, with the procession finishing back at the Temple by around 4 pm or so.
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 to bags of chips to full plates of curry is given out, all for free!
Vaisakhi Parade Participants
The Surrey Vaisakhi Festival only has about 20 organizations with entries in the parade. The 20 parade entries, however, include over 2500 participants. The procession also 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.
Click Surrey Vaisakhi Parade for more information.
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, there is also a multi-day carnival element.
Surrey’s Dashmesh Gurdwara Vaisakhi Festival carnival actually runs for the week and a half leading up to the weekend of the parade. It starts on the Thursday nine days before the parade and finishes ten days later on the Sunday.
During the 11-day Vaisakhi celebrations there is a carnival outside the Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar Temple which is the starting point of the Saturday parade and located at 12885 85th Avenue.
The carnival is run by Shooting Star Amusements and includes rides and a midway.
Vaisakhi Carnival Details
Below are details about the carnival and amusement rides at the Surrey Vaisakhi Festival in 2018. (Note: Times, dates and other details are subject to change.)
The carnival takes place each year beside the Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar Temple which is located at 12885 85th Avenue in Surrey.
In 2018 the carnival started up at 4 pm on the Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursdays and Friday of April 12, 13, 17, 18 and 19. The carnival was closed on the Monday, but on the Friday, Saturdays and Sundays of April 14-15 and 20-22 the place opened at noon.
Tickets at the carnival cost $3.50 per ride or $24 for an all-day wristband. That’s a really good deal – amusement rides at most other Lower Mainland events cost more.
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.
For more information about the carnival and its rides, see the Shooting Stars Amusements website.
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.
TIP #1: Take public transit to the event, or pack your bikes on your car, park far away, and then cycle to the parade. Parking close by is impossible.
TIP #2: If you have small children in a stroller, don’t expect to get around easily along the main 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 provide free snacks and food.
TIP #4: Weather permitting, the amusement rides at the carnival start up at 4 pm on the first day. Assuming they do begin running then, chances are pretty good that ride tickets that day will be offered at a discount.
TIP #5: 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 #6: The carnival rides are busiest on the weekends, on the parade day and on days when it’s not raining.
Vancouver also has a Vaisakhi Parade every year, taking place between the Ross Street Temple by Marine Drive and Punjabi Market at Main and 49th Avenue. The Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade takes place each year one week before the Surrey parade and also attracts a couple hundred thousand participants.
Click Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade for photos and further information about the Vancouver 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