John Welsh Band (also known as John Welsh & Los Valientes) will perform at the 2018 Surrey Fest Downtown, on June 16 at Holland Park. (photo:

Soggy too often, a Surrey festival’s planners yearn for just one sunny June day

Organizers of Surrey Fest Downtown moved their event to September last year — but it rained then, too

The annual Surrey Fest Downtown has been moved to June again, following one soggy September day last fall.

The 20th edition of the festival will take place on Saturday, June 16 at Holland Park, with John Welsh Band headlining the afternoon event.

Last year, organizers of the “celebration of community” moved it to a mid-September day, after growing weary of mid-June rain.

“We got tired of being rained out,” festival co-chair Bonnie Burnside said at the time. “Five years was enough.”

Then, after a stretch of warm, sunny weather late last summer, it rained on the chosen September day, prompting a move back to June this year.

“Hoping for a nice day,” event organizers tweeted on April 28. “This will be our 20th year!”

• RELATED STORY: The pain of June rain prompts move to Sept. 9 for Surrey festival, from 2017.

Live music and family-friendly activities are featured at the event, first launched in 1999 as Whalley Community Festival. At the time, Lucie Matich and Sahra-Lea Tosdevine-Tataryn led the effort to hold the event behind North Surrey rec centre.

Since then, a lot has changed: the green space behind the rec centre has been replaced by Civic Plaza, the event name was changed to Surrey Fest Downtown along the way, and the location moved to Holland Park in 2016.

More details about the festival are posted at


John Welsh’s Los Valientes band blends high-energy Latin, West African, reggae and folk-rock rhythms.

Welsh lived and studied in Mexico where he was heavily influenced by the music, language and culture, according to a post at “After several years of playing with various bands he and brother Chris (bass) met Nigerian-born Courage “El Valiente” Eigbike, who brought his reggae and West African influenced sound. Together they began creating songs with the vision of bringing their world music sound to a mainstream audience.”

The band is also booked to perform at Surrey Fusion Festival on July 21, according to its website.

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