A quinceañera is a canon event in Latin culture — a moment of grand celebration and a rite of passage towards adulthood. Traditionally, quinceañeras are for girls but in recent years boys’ have also had fiestas held in honour of their 15th birthdays and in Vancouver an entire event is getting the regal treatment in 2023.
Carnaval del Sol’s quinceañera rejoices the the diversity of Latin cultures in the Pacific Northwest — and the fact that the festival is still here.
The event has not had an easy time, admits founder Paola Viviana Murillo, who immigrated from Colombia. It was a money-losing venture for its first seven years and nearly shuttered during the COVID-19 pandemic. Murillo and her team turned the extraordinary obstacles of the health crisis into a lifeline for the festival and Latincouver, the non-profit organization that operates Carnaval del Sol. Murillo is also the founder and director of Latincouver.
“The COVID situation gave us the opportunity to do other events. We started programs for children and seniors, and those things helped us think differently and find other opportunities to spread the word about what we do,” Murillo said during a kick-off event for the festival at La Taqueria Pinche Taco Shop in downtown Vancouver on Thursday.
The quinceañera for Carnaval del Sol will be its most ambitious yet. The program is outstanding and figures to draw large crowds for music, food, artisan crafts, and cultural celebrations that recognize the approximately 178,000 Latin American residents of the Greater Vancouver Area (an increase from 35,000 when the first festival was held, Murillo says, citing census data). More than 22 food vendors, representing 12 countries from Central and South America, will be at David Lam Park in Yaletown during the three-day event (July 7-9).
Regular-priced admission is $15 when purchased online ($20 at the door); children and seniors can attend for free. To help those who may have difficulty affording a ticket, Murillo says the first 300 people who arrive each day will enter for free (gates open at noon). A two-day VIP Pass that allows entrants to have fast-track access to the beer garden and a VIP restroom, as well as discounts from some vendors, is $60. For 2023, Granville Island Brewing has teamed up with Carnaval del Sol to offer a special beer for the festival.
The program headliners are Proyecto Uno, a hip-hop group from the Dominican Republic.
Latincouver is also hosting a series of events leading up to the festival. These include a soccer tournament on July 2 at Empire Synthetic Turf Fields and a Tango & Flamenco show at the Pipe Shop in North Vancouver.
Created to give Latin Americans a voice and representation in Vancouver, Carnaval del Sol seems poised to take the next step this year — turning its 15th birthday into a milestone moment that solidifies its place as one of the city’s annual summer highlights.
Cathay Pacific Reopens Its Vancouver Lounge
In other tourism news from the west coast, one of the world’s great airlines is elevating its presence at Vancouver International Airport.
On Friday, Cathay Pacific reopens its lounge that is designed by London, U.K.-based Studioilse and features limestone flooring and artwork that evokes British Columbia’s cultures. Known for its outstanding cuisine (by airline standards), Cathay Pacific is carrying its culinary reputation over to the lounge with The Noodle Bar, which will serve dishes such as dan dan noodle soup and Hong Kong-style fish ball noodle soup. Another option is The Pantry, serving wines and spirits, and a selection of cheeses, salads, international hot food, desserts, and more.
Cathay Pacific has been connecting Canada to its home base of Hong Kong for more than 40 years. The pandemic saw the airline decrease its presence in Vancouver but Friday’s lounge reopening is yet another indication that global travel continues to strengthen in 2023.
According to a press release announcing the new venue, “The lounge is open to First and Business Class passengers travelling on Cathay Pacific, Cathay members with Silver Card status or above, and members of all tiers who earn lounge passes and/or their friends and family, including oneworld members with Sapphire status or above and First and Business Class passengers travelling on oneworld partners.”