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National Play the Parks event series coming to New Westminster

National Play the Parks event series coming to New Westminster

Music may be the centrepiece of a nationwide event that’s coming to New West – but there are plenty of other offerings at the upcoming Play the Parks event series.

New Westminster is one of 13 Canadian cities selected to host four Play the Parks events in September. Play the Parks is a free, musically and culturally diverse concert series that will spotlight more than 100 diverse artists from Black, Indigenous, Chinese, South Asian and 2SLGBTQ+ communities. 

“There’s been so many great events this summer,” said Lisa Kemp, the city’s program coordinator of special events. “It’s nice to have something to do in September when the weather’s still, hopefully, really nice.”

In addition to a musical performance, a variety of family-friendly activities will be taking place at each event, including Jedi training, dancing with Elsa and superhero training with Spiderman. A food truck has also been invited to attend the events, which are taking place on four Fridays in September.

Play the Parks is presented in partnership by the City of New Westminster, the TD Music Connected Series, and is curated by Canada’s Music Incubator. (Canada’s Music Incubator is a not-for-profit organization that helps emerging artists and bands of all genres develop their businesses, push their craft and expand their networks.)

“At TD, we believe music plays an important role in fostering a sense of belonging and helping to unite diverse communities,” said Michael Armstrong, vice president of brand and corporate sponsorships at the TD Bank Group. “Play the Parks is an opportunity to help bring Canadians together to experience art, culture and nature, while helping to celebrate the summer and sustain a sense of pride and connection.”

In addition to New Westminster, concerts are taking place in dozens of parks between Aug. 15 and Sept. 30 in Victoria and Surrey, B.C.; Edmonton and Calgary, Alberta; Winnipeg, Manitoba; Toronto, London, Brantford, Barrie and Niagara-on-the-Lake, Ontario; Sydney, Nova Scotia; and St. John’s, Newfoundland.

Play in the Parks was launched in Toronto in 2012. This is the first year that artists and fans will be gathering in person to experience Play the Parks in other Canadian cities. 

“We are very excited to have been selected amongst so many larger cities from across Canada,” Kemp said.

Kemp said she’s been in conversations with Canada’s Music Incubator for some time, but plans for Play the Parks kept getting derailed by COVID-19. She said the city’s role is to enhance the musical offerings by providing other activities at the events.

“They select the performers, they have a stage manager that’s there, and they are coordinating the larger program. So they’re all about the music and we’re all about the space, city services, like access to the park and power and all that, and then enhancing the experience.”

Everything at Play the Parks is free, except the food. In keeping with the Canadian Music Incubator them, the city has aimed for diversity with the food choices being offered at the events.

Play the Parks is envisioned as an event where folks may bring a blanket or chair and enjoy a picnic dinner or food truck fare, and take in some fun activities before enjoying the performances that will begin at 7 p.m.

Attendees are welcome to bring alcoholic beverages to three of the neighbourhood events. (Alcohol isn’t permitted at the event in Moody Park, as that one is being offered in partnership with the New West Youth Centre.)

“We thought that was kind of unique too,” Kemp said. “There’s been so many community events, but they’re usually like more beer gardens, whereas this would be like a bring your own. There won’t be alcohol sales.”

Kemp said the event is a great way of supporting local musicians and local parks.

“There’s something for everyone. We’re really trying to have activities that are for the little ones, like Elsa, but then also like the caricature artists that like age would be interested in. So there’s something for everyone,” Kemp said. “You can bring a picnic, or you can support the food truck. It’s very open; you can choose what you like.

What’s happening at Play the Parks?

Friday Sept. 2, 6 to 8 p.m. at Westminster Pier Park.

Activities will include a chance to sing and dance with Elsa, face painting, balloon twisting and lawn games. A caricature artist will also attend tonight’s event. Vietnamese Banh Mi will be available at the Camion Café food truck. At 7 p.m., the Will Clements Jazz Trio will perform.

Friday, Sept. 9, 6 to 8 p.m. in Upper Hume Park

Activities include Superhero training with Spiderman, and police car and fire truck tours. Mexican food will be available from the Dos Amigos food truck. A concert featuring Parlour Panther begins at 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 16, 6 to 8 p.m. at Westminster Pier Park

Activities include Jedi training with Rey Skywalker, face painting, balloon twisting and lawn games. A caricature artist will also attend tonight’s event. Mexican and Greek food fare will be available from the Meet2Eat food truck. Hyaenas will perform at 7 p.m.

Friday, Sept. 23, 6 to 8 p.m. at Moody Park

Activities include a professional yo-yo champion and photo booth. Jamaican food will be available at the Jerk Shack food truck. At 7 p.m. Incendiary Sweet will perform.

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus




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Here’s what’s happening in New Westminster for Easter 2022

Here’s what’s happening in New Westminster for Easter 2022

Easter action is happening in neighbourhoods across New West from Queensborough to Sapperton.

In past years, the City of New Westminster has hosted family-friendly activities in Queen’s Park on Easter Sunday, but it’s now spreading the fun across the city.

Easter in the City, taking place from Thursday, April 14 to Monday, April 18, features old favourites, such as photos with the Easter Bunny, and new additions, including Easter Bunny pet photos. All the details, plus registration, can be found at

Lisa Kemp, the city’s program coordinator of special events, said the goal of Easter in the City was to preserve activities that were traditionally offered at Queen’s Park, while adding some new traditions and making the event more accessible to all. 

“The updated Easter event spreads activities out over five days, brings activities to all neighbourhoods and provides opportunities for all ages,” she said. “We are also excited to partner with several local businesses and community organizations to further the reach of the Easter activities.”

When does the fun start?

Folks of all ages are invited to enjoy some Easter fun at the New West Farmers Market in Tipperary Park on Thursday, April 14 from 3 to 7 p.m. In addition to supporting local vendors, you’ll b able to guess how many eggs are in the jar for a chance to win market money to spend and to pick up a child-friendly Easter bag (while supplies last) outside the farmers market to take to all of the Easter activities taking place over the weekend to create an activity bag.

The Egg-citing Easter Egg Hunt is also taking place for kids aged two to 10 at the New West Farmers Market (entrance near the Queens Avenue entrance to the park). Parent participation is required and admission is by donation to the food bank.

“Find eggs and buy eggs! Hop on down to help the Easter Bunny find eggs in Friendship Garden, while helping to purchase eggs for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank’s 10,000 monthly clients,” said the city’s notice. “Join in on the hunt, explore this unique park space, and support a local charity.”

Did someone say scavenger hunt?

From Thursday, April 14 until Sunday, April 24, residents of all ages are invited to participate in the Unbeatable Scavenger Hunt. This free event gives people a chance to “join in on an egg-citing downtown scavenger hunt” and support businesses in the downtown core – and enter for a chance to win a $100 gift card to the business of your choice.

“Visit the participating storefronts to unscramble the hidden message,” said the notice.

What else is happening downtown?

Fraser River Discovery Centre is hosting the Spring Salmon Extravaganza on Thursday, Friday and Saturday of the Easter weekend. The center invites residents to try out the spring salmon egg hunt and to get acquainted with fishy friends during guided salmon-themed activities on Friday and Saturday.

Pre-registration is recommended for FRDC events. Go to to register or to get more information.

What about Queen’s Park?

Hoppy Crafting is taking place at the Queen’s Park picnic shelter on Friday, April 15. It’s free, but families must reserve a space (six family members per space) from 11 to 11:45 a.m., 12:30 to 1:15 p.m. and 2 to 2:45 p.m.

“Hippity-hop down the bunny trail to the picnic shelter at Queen’s Park for a nature-themed Easter event,” said the city’s notice. “Staff will guide you through a series of family-friendly Easter crafts and activities. Dress for the weather and prepare to get a bit dirty foraging for natural elements.”

Can I still have my photo taken with the Easter Bunny?

Youngsters and the young at heart can have their photo taken with the Easter Bunny on Friday, April 15 from noon to 4 p.m. at Sapperton Plaza. The city’s horticultural department will be providing a backdrop display.

While there, community members will be able to enjoy live music and treats. Photos are by donation to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.

Residents are invited to pop (hop?) down to the Queensborough Community Centre to get their family pet’s photo taken with the Easter Bunny. That event is happening on Saturday, April 16 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Registration is required by emailing Bosley’s in Columbia Square at Photos are by donation to the New Westminster animal shelter.

What else is happening?

You can build an Easter Bunny house and make an Easter egg suncatcher on Saturday, April 16 at Centennial Community Centre. Call 604-777-5100 to register (one time spot only) for this free event that’s being offered from 9:30 to 10:35 a.m., 11 a.m. to noon, or 12:30 to 1:30 p.m.

On Saturday, you can head to the main branch and the Queensborough branch of the New Westminster Public Library to take part in an egg hunt while checking out the Easter books and movies. This free event is on Saturday, April 16 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (Take note: the library will be closed on Good Friday (April 15), Easter Sunday (April 17) and Easter Monday (April 18).

What fun is planned for Easter Sunday?

The Junior Chef Egg-stravaganza is on Sunday, April 17 at the Queensborough Community Centre. This event, for kids aged eight to 12, gives participants a chance to make some Easter treats to take home to the family.

Parent participation is not required for the Junior Chef Egg-stravaganza, which runs from 10:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Registration is $2.

Younger kids (three to 12 years) can enjoy Hop’ Till You Drop on Sunday, April 17 at Century House.

“Join DJ Rock ‘n’ Beau for an eggciting time! We have an epic dance party, hopp’n surprises, bunny hop limbo, dance off challenges, and much more planned for the whole fam to enjoy!,” said the notice.

It’s free, but registration is required for the 1 to 1:45 p.m. and 2:30 to 3:15 time slots. Parent participation is required.

What about Easter Monday?

If kids consumed a little too much sugar (or even if they didn’t) they’ll be able to enjoy an Indoor Playland (for kids zero to five years of age) at the Queensborough Community Centre. The free drop-in is happening on Monday, April 18 from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.

“Enjoy Easter Monday morning experiencing a variety of fun and interactive activities,” said the city’s notice. “Bounce like a bunny on our indoor bouncy castle. Tons of fun for your little ones! Parent participation is required.”

Follow Theresa McManus on Twitter @TheresaMcManus