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New West’s 12th Street is gearing up for a day-long festival

The New Westminster street will be decked out with arts and craft stalls, food vendors, balloon artists and live music performances for the free event that’s expected to bring in about 5,000 attendees on July 24.
12th street
In April 2021, an Easter bunny toured the businesses on 12th Street, New Westminster.

In just over a week, 12th Street is set to transform into a buzzing hangout spot for a day. With two live music stages, and over 30 stalls featuring art and craft, home décor and apparel options, the street is all set to charm the community back to shopping at its businesses.

And the fact that they'll have the street closed to traffic for the event just goes on to show how serious they are about having fun.

The festival was a long time coming. The last time the community saw anything like it on 12th Street was about five years ago. Reportedly, there was a clash of dates between the 12th Street festival and the Uptown Live street festival in 2016, and while the latter did take place, the 12th Street event went into a long period of quiet. 

Then came COVID, quashing any plans to revive it. Although, last year, there was a mini version of the festival organized at the longstanding 12th Street joint The Thirsty Duck Pub, this year, the community will see an elaborate festival complete with art pop-ups, food trucks and live music (by bands such as We Found a Lovebird, 2 Days & Counting, Mike Van Eyes Band, and more).

“We know that we kind of went into a quiet mode for a while, but now, this [the festival] will help people to know what we have on 12th Street,” said Lavana La Brey, president of West End Business Association, and 12th Street Festival of the Arts coordinator.

The festival, La Brey said, aims to revive the businesses in the West End - of which there are a diverse many. “We have Lebanese food, East Indian food, donair places, Mexican, and Filipino food…” she added. 

12th Street bounces back from COVID lull

While many of the businesses did manage to survive through COVID, a few had to shut their doors. The pandemic, as for everyone else, proved tough for 12th Street business owners — many eateries limited their business to takeout, and salons and tattoo parlours continued with restricted services strictly on an appointment basis.

The city, said La Brey, did its part in helping businesses hang on — like building patios as an extension to the eateries to help keep them open. 

“It was a very, very sad time, I have to admit, but everybody wanted to make sure they were safe. So everybody followed the procedures.” 

But all that’s in the past now. On Sunday, July 24, 12th Street aims to bring in as many as 5,000 attendees, who can amble around the area at their own pace — browsing the watercolour creations by Black Crow Creative Passions, smelling the candles by Ollie & Co. or checking out Indigenous-inspired apparel designs by Shining Bear Designs.


There will be live music performances by the funk and blues band, Dem Boyz, and the folk rock group Cat Murphy Band, among many others. While the event would be a good opportunity to try out the local eateries, it wouldn't be a bad idea to grab an ice cream sandwich from The Brownie Bakers food truck or a box of empanadas from New West's Empanada Gal.

The festival, sponsored by Key West Ford, will take place between 11.30 a.m. and 5 p.m. on Sunday, July 24, at 12th Street. All traffic from Sixth to Eighth avenue will be blocked to create a car-free zone. 

Those interested in volunteering, or signing up as a vendor, can register on the 12th street festival of the arts website