COVID-19: Celebration of Light and PNE may appear in different forms in 2020

    1 of 2 2 of 2

      Several major annual events that Vancouver marks summertime with won’t be held this year in the same way they have in the past—but Vancouverites will have to stay tuned to find out how they may appear in different forms as they adapt to COVID-19 pandemic measures.

      After B.C.’s provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry stated on April 18 that it wouldn’t be possible to hold large public events this year, several organizations announced that their events wouldn’t appear as they have in the past, but could continue on in other forms.

      A free, family-friendly fireworks competition, which draws over 1.3 million viewers each year, may be temporarily dimming its lights but is not completely switching things off.

      The Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society stated on April 20 that the annual Honda Celebration of Light, which began as the Symphony of Fire in 1990, won’t be held this year. It was originally scheduled to be held over three nights on July 25 and 29, and August 1.

      The event features teams from various countries competing in presentations of fireworks choreographed to music and its core purpose, as stated on its website, is to “spark togetherness”.

      Yet the society stated that “exploring options for a different type of celebration in 2020” and that an announcement will be made in the near future.


      In addition, the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) issued a statement on April 18 that although the annual PNE Fair and Playland, which has been held for 110 years, may not be held as originally scheduled from August 17 to September 7 this year, it could appear in another form.

      “We continue to monitor progress and work with government officials and, when the time is right, we will be ready to welcome the province back in ways that makes sense for all our health and safety,” the organization stated.

      The PNE stated that the summer months are financially vital for them and that they are also “deeply concerned about the thousands of our youth, staff, vendors and partners that depend on us each summer to pay their way through school and to support their families and businesses each year”.

      However, the organization points out that the PNE has survived numerous historical challenges.

      “The PNE succeeded through impacts of two wars, a great depression and the economic recession in early 2000s,” the statement reads. “We were the site where British Columbia came together to wrap our arms around each other in celebration following both world wars.” 

      Nonetheless, the PNE team stated that they are working towards presenting an adjusted version of the fair.

      “The events may be smaller, and protocols may be different, but we have a few bright ideas up our sleeve for when the time is right,” the organization stated.

      Similarly, the Vancouver Pride Society (VPS) also stated on April 18 that while its annual Pride parade held to celebrate LGBT people and communities won’t be held but festivities will continue to be held through other means that will ensure health measures can be implemented.

      As VPS executive director Andrea Arnot aptly stated, “Pride can’t be cancelled.”

      You can follow Craig Takeuchi on Twitter at @cinecraig or on Facebook.