No Cars, 4 Huge Parties: Car Free Vancouver Day Returns

Photo credit: Rob__ | Flickr

Photo credit: Rob__ | Flickr

(Don’t) Start your engines!

The sixth instalment of Car Free Vancouver Day is scheduled to hit city neighbourhoods June 16 (Father’s Day).  The premise of the festival is simple: Main streets throughout Vancouver are closed to traffic, so everyone can get out, stretch their legs and actually rub shoulders with friends and neighbours.

Over the years, Car Free Day has evolved into one of the best, totally grassroots events of the summer.  Pedestrianized streets are transformed into carnivals full of food, music, performers and general revelry.  It’s all volunteer-based and community-organized, so you’re sure to get a healthy dose of local colour and local weirdness.

As in past years, Car Free Vancouver Day will take place in four neighbourhoods: Commercial Drive, Main Street, the West End and Kitsilano.  Here are details on what you can expect if you leave the car behind:

Commercial DriveThe heart of the Drive, where Car Free Day was born, is closed to traffic and opened up to a motley assembly of DJs, street performers and more.  Highlights this year include Roller Disco, community music stages, yarn bombing, fish frys and parading drummers.  Expect loosely organized, serendipitous fun along Vancouver’s most bohemian drag.  June 16noon-7 p.m.; Commercial Drive, from Venables Street to North Grandview Highway

Main Street: Get ready for 21 full blocks of car-free mayhem.  Main Street goes all out for the day, with more than a dozen music stages, three artisan markets, roller derby and plenty of street food.  There’s also an extensive kids zone with yoga, art and even button-making.  Possibly the biggest of the Car Free gatherings, this event draws a diverse crowd of hipsters, young families and more to rapidly gentrifying but still edgy Main Street.  June 16noon-7 p.m.; Main Street, from Broadway to 30th Avenue

West EndBusy Denman Street in the heart of downtown Vancouver is blocked from traffic for this lively street fest.  Highlights include acoustic music, a kids zone and, of course, the unforgettable Pet Parade.  Small dogs dressed up in cute costumes adds up to big fun.  June 16noon-6 p.m. (Pet Parade 2 p.m.-4 p.m.); Denman Street, from Davie Street to Robson Street  

KitsilanoKits is doing things a bit differently.  Car Free Day coincides with the neighbourhood’s annual block party blowout.  Dozens of streets host their own, improvised block parties, from simple affairs with chips and drinks to ragers with live music and dancing.  It’s an occasion for neighbours – and anyone else who happens to wander by – to get to know one another outside of the daily grind.  June 15-June 16; various locations in Kitsilano (2012 map here)

Anyone been to Car Free Day before?  Where’s the best party? 

For more updates on Vancouver and beyond, follow me on Twitter @RemyScalza.

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