nowruz 2020

Persian New Year celebrations cancelled in Toronto because of coronavirus

Toronto's annual Tirgan Nowruz Festival — billed as the largest celebration of Iranian art and culture in the world — is the latest mass gathering to be cancelled in Canada on account of coronavirus fears.

Originally scheduled to take place from March 13-15 at the Meridian Arts Centre in North York, the three-day-long festival was meant to coincide with the internationally-celebrated holiday of Nowruz (also known as Persian New Year or Iranian New Year.)

Tirgan, a non-religious and non partisan Canadian charity that champions Iranian art, music, culture and food, announced the news on Twitter late last week.

"While Tirgan was closely monitoring the evolving situation following the coronavirus epidemic, its individual committees set out to urgently collect the information required to make the most appropriate decision for the festival and the community, under the circumstances," reads a statement from the organization.

"This information included status updates issued by governmental health authorities, the global status of the epidemic, Tirgan's commitments to our volunteers, artists, sponsors, organizations involved, service and product providers; and ultimately, the opinions and concerns of the Iranian community and the community at large."

Based on their discussions, Tirgan's board of directors decided to cancel the in-person portion of its festival for 2020, similar to the recently-nixed Collision and Shopify Unite tech conferences.

"The fourth Tirgan Nowruz Festival won't be held in its traditional format, with the physical presence of audience," continues the statement.

"One or more programs will be selected for live or pre-recorded broadcast at a pre-determined time, to be announced later. The program dedicated to the victims of flight 752 will also be included."

Some portions of the program, including Iranian musician Sima Bina's scheduled concert, will be rescheduled "pending the availability of the artists and venues."

Those who've already purchased tickets for this year's Nowruz festival, which has attracted as many as 160,000 people in the past, can get full refunds by contacting the Meridian Arts Centre box office.

Lead photo by

Rob Oliphant


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