03/17/2015 23:40 EDT | Updated 05/17/2015 05:12 EDT

West Vancouver Fire Festival ushers in Persian New Year

Metro Vancouver's Persian community is celebrating its 25th Fire Festival at Ambleside Park in West Vancouver. 

"The Fire Festival is a prelude to the Persian New Year," says Davood Ghavami, one of the event organizers and the president of the Iranian Canadian Congress of B.C.

The Fire Festival, also known as the Chaharshanbe Suri, is celebrated on the eve of the last Wednesday of the Persian year. It acts as a welcoming to the Nowruz, or Persian New Year, which will take place on Saturday.

The festival includes live performances, dancing, and bonfires from 5 p.m. to 11 p.m.

Part of the tradition involves people jumping over a fire while saying a few words to purify themselves and welcome the new year. Ghavami says the tradition goes back thousands of years.

"The fire itself is a sign of warmth and light in life and people," says Ghavami.

The celebration attracts more and more people each year, he says.

When the event started 25 years ago, Ghavami says it was quite disorganized and "a bit mad," but now the event is well-coordinated between the City of West Vancouver, police, and participants.

There are more Persian New Year activities scheduled throughout the week in the Lower Mainland. The family-oriented celebration includes visits with family and friends, dressing in new clothes, and lots of Persian sweets.