Leaping over flames, Persian community celebrates new year in West Vancouver

A West Vancouver beach was glowing with fire Tuesday night as the Persian community began celebrating the new year.

Tens of thousands of people piled on the sand at Ambleside Park for the annual celebration of Nowruz, the Persian new year, with event attendees leaping over small fires. 

The community says it's also seen as a way to mark the beginning of spring.

Organizers say twice as many people came out compared to last year and, unlike last year, the weather co-operated for this fire festival.

"This event is growing so fast on an annual basis," said Davood Ghavami, president of the Iranian-Canadian Congress.

The District of West Vancouver stated this is the 29th year an official Nowruz celebration has been held in the community.


Revellers were treated to plenty of food and Iranian music, along with the fire jumping, a symbolic gesture to start fresh in the new year.

"It's just purification," Ghavami explained. "Purify the last year versus the year that's coming. People try to purify themselves."