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International Festival, Canada Day merge

The annual Langley International Festival will not be held this year and will instead see popular elements of the festival blended into a new three-to-four-day Canada Day celebration. The decision comes after Langley’s International Festival Society assumed control of the Langley Canada Day Society. - Langley Times file photo
The annual Langley International Festival will not be held this year and will instead see popular elements of the festival blended into a new three-to-four-day Canada Day celebration. The decision comes after Langley’s International Festival Society assumed control of the Langley Canada Day Society.
— image credit: Langley Times file photo

Two large summer events will become one this summer, with the Langley International Festival taking over organization of the annual Canada Day event.

After years of holding Canada Day celebrations, control of the volunteer-run Langley Canada Day Society has been assumed by Langley’s International Festival Society (LIFS). The annual multicultural celebration has taken place for the past 13 years. The announcement was made during a presentation to both Langley City and Langley Township councils at their Monday regular meetings.

“Canada is a vibrant, culturally diverse country and what better way to mark its birth than with a multicultural experience?” said LIFS president Bob Barrett in a press release.

“Our goal is to provide a fun, activity-filled celebration that focuses on children and families as we celebrate our nation and all it represents.”

At the moment, LIFS intends to continue running two separate non-profit societies to run both events. However, organizers have decided not to run this year’s International Festival, instead blending popular elements of the festival into a new three- to four-day Canada Day celebration in Langley.

“At this point, because it’s the first year, we want to be conservative,” LIFS vice president Tomas Reyes told Langley City council. “We know that that has some impact in the community, in the festival itself and in the vendors participating, but we decided that was the best choice.

“That doesn’t mean that the other festival will necessarily disappear, we want to see our ability to manage Canada Day first and see the outcome of this year.”

Council members expressed surprise at the decision, but were overall enthusiastic about the move, which may help address some of the financial hurdles faced by the previous Canada Day society.

“Two-day festivals get a higher priority with grant funding from organizations, different levels of government, than one-day events do,” said Councillor Teri James. “But in addition, if you can incorporate that international, multicultural component, then it puts you again in a higher queue than the other things.”

The International Festival usually draws a crowd of around 15,000, while the society estimates the Canada Day celebration will bring an opportunity to host upwards of 40,000 visitors. The event will move from its traditional home in McLeod Athletic Park to Willoughby Community Park, with support from the Langley Events Centre.

The Canada Day event was originally held at Langley Airport, until airport expansion prompted a move to McLeod Park.

Organizers plan to include popular elements from the International Festival into the Canada Day celebrations, and guests can expect to experience food, art, and entertainment from cultures around the world, alongside a Children’s Chalet and International Pavilion, as well as the games, rides, displays, and demonstrations traditionally found at the Canada Day celebration.

The society is currently looking for sponsors and volunteers to help ensure the Canada Day celebration is a success. As well, the Langley International Festival Society and Langley Canada Day Celebrations Society will host a special Multicultural Gala Dinner and Awards Ceremony on Feb. 1. Community members are welcome and tickets are $60. More information is available online at www.internationalfestival.ca.

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