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Vancouver’s Bastille Day French Festival

Bastille Day at the Roundhouse

Bastille Day is a French national holiday. It’s celebrated each year on July 14th with French food, music and entertainment at the Roundhouse in Vancouver.

Due to COVID-19, the 2021 festival took place on Sunday, July 11th instead of July 14th. The event also had a different format than in years past. 2022 details are to be confirmed.

 


This article contains the following information about the Bastille Day Festival:

What is Bastille Day? | Festival Details | 2021 Festival | 2020 Festival Entertainment | Bastille Day in a Typical Year | Other Information


 

Bastille Day at the Roundhouse in Yaletown

Vancouver normally hosts a Bastille Day celebration on July 14th every year but it took place on July 11th in 2021 because of the pandemic. The event usually happens at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown. A celebration of French food and music, the festival features a selection of live entertainment and vendor stalls.

The event is presented by the Bastille Day Festival Society. The non-profit organization aims to promote French culture around Vancouver.

 

What is Bastille Day?

Bastille Day is a French national holiday. It takes place each year on July 14th which is the anniversary of the storming of the Bastille.

The storming of the Bastille is an important holiday in France because it marks the beginning of the French Revolution back in 1789. Originally built as a medieval fortress, the Bastille was later converted into a state prison. It has become a symbol of royal authority and repression.

 

Festival Details

In keeping with the original date, the holiday is celebrated each year on July 14th. The 2021 Vancouver festival, however, took place on Sunday, July 11th.

In years when there isn’t a pandemic, the festival takes place at the Roundhouse Community Centre in downtown Vancouver. The venue’s address is 181 Roundhouse Mews. It’s just a few blocks from the north False Creek Seawall and close to the Yaletown-Roundhouse SkyTrain Station.

In pre-COVID years, as many as 10,000 people have attended the event.

Admission to the festival is usually free and everyone is welcome. In 2021, however, tickets cost $20 per person and were limited to a maximum of 100 participants.

 

Bastille Day Festival at the Roundhouse
Bastille Day at the Roundhouse

 

The Bastille Day Festival in 2021

The 2021 version of the Vancouver Bastille Day Festival wasn’t the same as in previous years. For starters, it happened on July 11th and in a different format.

Rather than gathering at the Roundhouse, participants celebrated Bastille Day with a scavenger hunt. Whether solo or with a group of friends and family, the hunt was a tour of French-owned establishments in The City of Vancouver.

A map and a quiz sheet were used to aid participants and the hunt began at David Lam Park at 9:30 am. From there, a route of different shops awaited and each provided a small gift for the groups.

Folks had the chance to win more prizes in a raffle if they filled out the quiz along the way and submitted it at the end. Wine, gift cards for French restaurants and other items were on offer.

Unlike most years, the changes to the festival structure meant that the 2021 edition wasn’t free. Tickets cost $20 and there were only 100 of them available.

 

2020 Festival Entertainment

The 2020 Bastille Day Festival also looked different than in normal years. Due to concerns over the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, most festival events were held online. 2020 festival events included the following:

  • French Classic Car Parade – an in-person car parade that started and ended at Science World. The parade began at 3:30 pm and included stops at the Maritime Museum and the Bayshore West Marina.
  • Online Music Streaming – concerts from three artists streamed from 6:00 until 7:00 pm. The artists featured included Alisa Blanc, Eric John Kaiser and Elea Saunier.

 

Live Music at Bastille Day
Live French Music at the Roundhouse

 

Bastille Day in a Typical Year

In years without COVID, Vancouver’s French community celebrates Bastille Day with a festival at the Roundhouse Community Centre. Vendors sell French products and food at the event. There are also family-friendly activities as well as live music, entertainment and a raffle. For adults, there is also a beer garden that sells French wine.

The Bastille Day festivities usually start at around 10:00 in the morning and continue into the evening. Admission is free.

Hopefully the live event can happen again in a large in-person format in 2022. Fingers crossed that it can!

 

Other Information

To learn more about the festival visit the Vancouver Bastille Day Festival website.

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