Canada Day 2008, Trafalgar Square

Canada Day was an absolute riot this year! Actually, it ended up being a two-day party in central London that was a lot of fun. A month or two back I had noticed that the Canadian High Commission, which operates out of Canada House on the edge of Trafalgar Square was planning a Canada Day festival, with bands and the whole works for Trafalgar Square in downtown London. Seemed like a good idea, sop I signed up for the free tickets to the show, scheduled for June 30th in the evening. 

The stage set-up for Canada Day 2008, Trafalgar Square 

I didn’t think much of it, until a few days ago. As it turns out, it ended up being a two-day event – the evening of the 30th was a concert, and then all day on the 1st was a series of events, followed by another concert in the evening. And of course the best part was that Canada was taking over Trafalgar Square! I ended up with two tickets for the concert on the first night (all the event on Canada Day itself were free), and invited KJ, a fellow Canadian and a friend of Karen’s that I had met a few months back. He’s a fun guy, and I knew we’d have a good time of it.

The National Gallery, swamped by Canadians

The National Gallery, swamped by Canadians

The concert itself was OK – of the acts playing the only one I knew was the Trews; all the others were mostly unknown. All in all, the bands did a good job. The Trews were great, and Kathleen Edwards, a singer/songwriter type that closed the show was really good. I had shown up around 7:30, and the music went strong until about 10:30. It was a very fun evening, made better by the fact that it was going to continue the next day. KJ was planning on spending the whole day and invited me to hang out with him and his friends.

Sadly, I had another meeting in Solihull on Canada Day in the morning, so I didn’t get back to Trafalgar Square until about 5:30 in the afternoon. By that point I had missed the ball hockey tournament; how could it be Canada Day without hockey in some form? But I did manage to snag a Tim Horton’s donut, so that was good. While the crowds initially seemed smaller than the previous night, the line up for beer was way longer, and finally we gave up on the Moosehead and wandered off across the street to buy some from Tesco. Again, this whole attitude towards people having fun is so much better here – not only were we not forced to stick to some small beer garden; we were even able to just go buy our own. 

KJ and Joe - too cool; KJ and the girls (no idea who they are...);
Joe, the flag and "Proud of Alberta Beef" guy 

KJ’s friend Joe had shown up not long after I did – with this huge Canadian flag! It turned out to be the centre-point for a lot of antics throughout the evening. Joe had kept it under wraps for quite a while, but once it came out it drew tons of people our way. I also met two of Joe’s friends – Chris a fellow Canadian and Becs, from New Zealand. But we let her stay anyway.

Joe and Becs;  Joe, Chris and Becs; Becs anbd Chris

Sadly, the music on day two was really pretty bad – so for any non-Canadians in attendance, I apologize and would like to say that is not indicative of Canadian music! They could have down much better on that front. Around 10:30 (I think…), they rolled out the Canadian National Anthem, which was great – the sing-along was fun – and then they threw us all out of Trafalgar Square. 

Joe and the flag toga; Chris, Joe and Becs; Joe waving the flag during the anthem;
Joe and "Flight of the Concords" guy 

That was pretty odd. We milled around for a bit longer, and then headed home. It was a very fun night, and one of my more memorable Canada Days!

The Canada Day gang - plus a few hangers on...

The Canada Day gang - plus a few hangers on...