Thousands of people pack Douglas Street for the annual Car Free YYJ event. This year the busy downtown street will be converted to a pedestrian area with vendors, entertainment and more on June 17. Photo courtesy of the Downtown Victoria Business Association

See downtown Victoria in a whole new way with Car Free YYJ

Annual event removes vehicles for a day from busy stretch of Douglas Street

Put the car in ‘park’ and stretch those hammies because Car Free YYJ is back for another year of music, food and community connection along nine blocks of Douglas Street.

This now-annual street fair has quickly become a staple of summer in the Capital Region and a popular one at that; the 2017 event saw over 25,000 people attend, even in less-than-ideal weather.

The concept is simple: Douglas Street from Chatham/Caledonia to Courtney Street is closed to vehicle traffic and around 500 different vendors, dozens of musical acts and tens of thousands of people are invited to turn the area into a one-day outdoor community festival.

“It’s an exciting one, because it’s a free event and it just brings out a ton of people,” said Nick Blasko, director of Atomique Productions, which organizes the event for presenter Downtown Victoria Business Association. “It’s not every day you get to turn Douglas Street into a giant community celebration.”

Returning participants will have new vendors to enjoy, from food trucks to artisans and more, along with the return of the grassy park between Pandora and Johnson streets. This 5,000 square foot temporary green space features picnic tables and is commonly filled with adults lounging and children running around.

“Literally, what is normally a bus stop on Douglas Street becomes a park,” said Blasko. “I love the fact that it’s up and down in one day … but it’s such high impact.”

The popularity of Car Free Day has led to similar events being planned, including the first ever Cook Street Village Block Party, which had a hugely successful inaugural event on May 27.

Car Free Day YYJ runs from 11 a.m.-6 p.m. on Sunday, June 17. For more information visit downtownvictoria.ca/events/car-free-yyj.

– Monday Magazine staff

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