The Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade and Surrey Vaisakhi Parade both celebrate Vaisakhi Day, which marks the Punjabi New Year in April every year.
Vancouver and Surrey Vaisakhi Festivals
Both festivals are indeed very similar. They both attract over 200,000 people most years and feature close to two dozen parade entries which take most of the day to process from their respective parade starting points to their finishes. Both Vaisakhi Festivals also begin at a Sikh temple where official ceremonies take place.
The main difference between the two events, other than the fact that the Surrey parade is reportedly larger and happens a week later, is that in Surrey, in addition to the one-day parade, a carnival with rides takes place near the temple for the week or so leading up to the parade day.
Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade
Put on by the Khalsa Diwan Society, the Vancouver Vaisakhi Festival usually takes place the week of April 13th. In 2018 it was on Saturday, April 14, from 11 am to 5 pm starting at the KDS Ross Sikh Temple at 8000 Ross Street in Vancouver.
The Vancouver parade starts each year at 11 am at the Ross Sikh Temple and proceeds down Marine Drive, up Main Street, along 49th Avenue, south at Fraser, east along 57th Avenue and then down Ross Street back to the temple.
Click Vancouver Vaisakhi for photos and more information.
To see what a Lower Mainland Vaisakhi Parade looks like, check out the Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade Video.
Surrey Vaisakhi Parade
In 2018 the Surrey Vaisakhi Festival took place on Saturday, April 21st, so the week after the Vancouver event.
The City of Surrey has a huge East Indian population, which explains why the Surrey Vaisakhi Parade attracts up to 300,000 people, making it reputably the largest Vaisakhi parade in the world outside India.
The Surrey Vaisakhi Parade is even bigger than the one in Vancouver most years – which is also very big – but always takes place the weekend after.
Featuring about twenty floats, the Vaisakhi Parade in Surrey begins at the Gurdwara Dashmesh Darbar Temple, at 12885 85th Avenue. The procession starts at about 9:30 am and goes along 128th Street, 124th Street, 75th and 76th Avenues, and then back to the Temple, finishing by about 4 pm.
Click Surrey Vaisakhi Parade for more information.
TIP: For both the Surrey and Vancouver events don’t expect to find parking anywhere near the parade venues, unless you arrive really early, and even then you’ll find much of the greater area closed to traffic. Public transit is recommended.
The region around Main Street and 49th Avenue in Vancouver is referred to as Punjabi Market, owing to the large number of East Indian businesses in the area.
If you ever wanted to check out Punjabi Market, the day of the parade is the most interesting, and crowded. On this day there are lots of people and things to see. With all the turbans, colour and festivities, you’ll feel like you’re in the Punjab! Everyone is welcome.
On non-festival days, Punjabi Market actually looks a lot like many regular streets in Vancouver, just with a higher concentration of East Indian stores than average. It’s not so exotic and for most people not necessarily worth taking a day trip especially out to see. Consequently, time your visit with the Vaisakhi Parade if you want to visit the place, unless you want to avoid the crowds.
At the Vaisakhi Festival and during the parade don’t be surprised to receive free food and drink from local residents and businesses – it’s a traditional part of the festivities.
Click Vaisakhi Map for a map of the parade route in Vancouver.
What is Vaisakhi Day
The Sikh religion originated in the 15th century and is today the 5th or 6th largest religion in the world.
Vaisakhi, also known as Baisakhi, is a festival also celebrated by Hindus and Buddhists as the start of the new year.
For more information about Vaisakhi festivals in the Lower Mainland, click any of the following:
- Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade
- Surrey Vaisakhi Parade
- Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade VIDEO
- Surrey Vaisakhi Parade VIDEO
For ideas about other things to do this same time of year, check out the following:
For a list of other things to do throughout the year, click any of the following: