This year's Torchlight Parade will be car-free

Focused White Rock Spirit of the Sea Festival ‘to feel busier’

Organizers of White Rock’s Spirit of the Sea Festival say funding challenges have led to a whole new concept for the long-weekend event.

Organizers of White Rock’s Spirit of the Sea Festival say funding challenges have led to a whole new concept for the long-weekend event.

Historically, the festival – set for Aug. 3 and 4 – has offered events and activities that stretch from East to West Beach, including fireworks and a Torchlight Parade.

This year, a fire show will replace the fireworks, and the parade will instead be a car-free, half-kilometre “carnival procession.”

As well, everything – with the exception of paddleboard races – will take place in the East Beach area, from soccer and hockey in the middle of Marine Drive, to a waterfront marketplace, with the entire stretch of road blocked off to traffic.

“We had to reinvent the festival,” director Matt Todd explained Friday. “This idea, this concept we’re going with now… we can have the same number of events and it’ll feel busier. It’s all happening in one area, and you can see it and be a part of it.”

The parade is to take place on Aug. 3. Starting at 9 p.m. from Finlay Street, it will proceed west to Balsam Street then loop back to Finlay through the parking lots. The idea is to create “a giant congo-line” feeling, Todd said, noting everyone who takes up the opportunity to join in will still be able to see the procession.

It remains a celebration of light, and those planning to participate are encouraged to use glow sticks or other lights, dress in vibrant colours and choreograph a demonstration or spectacle of sorts.

Todd said the changes reduce the cost of holding the festival by $15,000, and cut insurance costs in half.

While he’s heard some concerns about the new approach, Todd said they centred on the fact things aren’t going to be the same as they were in the past.

“A lot of people just don’t like different,” he said. “The benefits seem to outweigh any feel-good of clinging to the way it used to be.”

The festival website ( includes an appeal for help covering the costs.

“If everyone who comes to the festival gave us $1, we would be fully funded. Most people don’t, so it would be very much appreciated if you gave us $20,” it states.

“In the past, we’ve had to borrow money to cover our costs when we couldn’t raise enough from corporate sponsorship. This year has been even more challenging than ever. Please help us avoid going into debt; help us keep the festival open and free to all.”

For more information or to volunteer, call 604-535-9890 or email


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