TJ Fest is a community festival hosted by the Tian Jin Temple in Burnaby. It features Taiwanese food and multicultural performances on a weekend in May.
TJ Fest in Burnaby
Affiliated with Vancouver’s ExplorASIAN Festival, TJ Fest is a festival that celebrates multiculturalism in Metro Vancouver. The “TJ” in TJ Fest stands for Tian Jin which is the name of the temple that hosts the event each year. The inaugural TJ Fest event happened in 2012. The festival has grown over the last decade or so into one of Burnaby’s most popular mid-sized community events.
TJ Fest is a family-friendly festival with several different things to do. Most years there is a small market with local vendors representing a variety of cultures. There is also usually a good selection of food available for purchase including Taiwanese street and festival foods. The other major component of TJ Fest is its live entertainment. Performances take place outdoors each year and offer everyone a chance to appreciate art forms from different countries.
The annual TJ Fest event is a part of the larger ExplorASIAN Festival which is hosted by the Vancouver Asian Heritage Month Society. The ExplorASIAN Festival features over 60 events, many of which are free to attend, including TJ Fest.
When and Where
TJ Fest takes place over a weekend in May most years on the Tian Jin Temple property as well as in the middle of the street. The temple’s address is 3426 Smith Avenue in Burnaby.
In 2021 TJ Fest took place on the weekend of September 25th and 26th, so a few months later than usual. This was likely due to delays caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.
The festival returned in 2022, which marked the event’s 10th anniversary. In 2022 TJ Fest happened on the Saturday and Sunday of May 14th and 15th. The festival took place from 11:00 am until 4:00 pm on both days.
2023 festival dates and details are to be confirmed but will likely be similar.
What to Expect
At TJ Fest you can expect to see folks of all ages outside the Tian Jin Temple taking in all the festivities. There are lots of stalls in the market area which is where local vendors and community groups set up to promote their organizations and sell products to guests that are interested.
There is another area at the event with even larger tents. This is typically where you’ll find most of the food available for sale. Unlike many regular markets, however, it’s not just a selection of pre-packaged treats or baked goods. Instead, there is fresh food available at TJ Fest that is often being cooked and prepared in front of you. Expect there to be a large variety of street food available, so be sure to come hungry and enjoy a tasty lunch!
Although most of the event is about Taiwanese culture, and Taoism, many other cultures are represented as well. This is best seen through the variety of live performances. There is an outdoor stage where musicians and dancers provide entertainment. Some performances are traditional and culturally significant, so TJ Fest is a good place to learn about a multitude of cultures. The stage area also has several roundtables with chairs and stools, and there are more places to eat out on the street.
Food at the Festival
Prices for the food at TJ Fest seem quite reasonable. In 2022 a plate of Taiwanese pork sausage cost $6, a serving of ruby pork chop cost $4, and a savory pepper pork pastry was $4. You could also buy a mini cup of black ball purple rice soup or black ball grass jelly for $5, or a regular-sized serving for $10 each. It all looked delicious and quite exotic!
Other menu items in 2022 included lotus leaf sticky rice for $6, Taiwanese baked goods for $5, popcorn chicken for $7, deep-fried squid for $9, a Taiwanese pork belly burger for $7, pork boa for $2, and green bean pastries for $6. A bottle of water also cost $2.
About Tian Jin Temple
Tian Jin Temple is a Taoist temple. It’s an A-framed building that used to be an Anglican church. Taoism is an ancient Chinese religion, or philosophy, that emphasizes living in harmony with the universe.
Affiliated with the Chinese Taoism Kuan-Kung Association in Canada, the Tian Jin Temple is a temple that worships Kwan Kung who was a Chinese god of war and wealth. Some believe that Kwan Kung might also have been a real-life Chinese general.
In 2012 the Tian Jin Temple, when it acquired the building from the Anglican church, became the first Taoist temple in the country that worships Kwan Kung.
TJ Fest Video
For a really good idea of what to expect at TJ Fest, check out the following video. It shows what the event looked like in 2022.
As you’ll see in the video, TJ Fest is a good-sized event. There are market vendors and stalls where community organizations set up. There is also a large food vendor area where volunteers cook up all kinds of tasty and exotic treats. On the property there is also an outdoor stage where dancing, singing, drumming and other performances take place. The drummer in the video we believe was Korean.
At the festival you can also go inside the temple and have a look around. A lot of people attend this event!
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- ExplorASIAN Festival
- Vancouver’s May Calendar
- Free Vancouver Events in May
- History and Culture in Vancouver