From food festivals to Canada Day bashes to 1,000-foot water slides, here are the top entertainment options Vancouver has to offer over next three months
Bard on the Beach – Thursday, June 1 to Saturday, September 23
Facebook/Bard on the BeachVancouver is home to Western Canada’s largest professional Shakespeare festival, Bard on the Beach. From June 1 to September 23, head down to Vanier Park (adjacent to the downtown core) to enjoy a curated selection of some of William Shakespeare’s best works, performed live. This year, the season will open with the romantic comedy Much Ado About Nothing in repertory with a classic staging of The Winter’s Tale. Other notable works this year will include The Merchant of Venice and The Gentleman of Verona. Now in its 28th consecutive season, Bard on the Beach is an iconic staple in Vancouver’s emerging theatre scene, and has received much acclaim for its Shakespearean exploits over the years.
City of Bhangra Festival – Sunday, June 11 to Saturday, June 17
Vancouver International Bhangra CelebrationBhangra is a lively form of music and dance that originated in the Punjabi region of South Asia. It traditionally served as a way for young people to bridge social and racial divides and strengthen local communities through dance and music, with Bhangra lyrics focusing on themes like love, harmony and happiness.
Each year, Vancouver celebrates its local Bhangra scene by putting on a multi-venue City of Bhangra Festival. The festival this year runs from June 11 to 17, and takes place in a number of ticketed community locations across Vancouver and Surrey, including Club 560, the Rio Theatre, Fox Cabaret and Fortune Sound Club. There will also be free events taking place at the Vancouver Art Gallery outside in the plaza and at Surrey’s Kwantlen University.
National Aboriginal Day at Canada Place – Saturday, June 17
Canada PlaceCelebrate the unique heritage and diverse cultures of the Aboriginal peoples in Canada during National Aboriginal Day celebrations at Canada Place on June 21. Coinciding with the summer solstice, National Aboriginal Day at Canada Place commences with a traditional Coast Salish welcome, followed by an eclectic day of traditional food and dance, storytelling and more.
TD International Jazz Festival – Thursday, June 22 to Sunday, July 2
TD MusicOne of the city’s most reputed music fests, the annual TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival attracts over 500,000 jazz fans for 11 days in late June and early July. The event features over 1,800 artists performing in 300 concerts across 35 venues, indoor and outdoor, around the city, including some of the world’s best jazz funk, fusion and world music artists to get you moving and grooving. There are also many free events offered at historic spots like the Vancouver Art Gallery, Granville Island during Canada Day and at David Lam Park over the festival’s closing weekend. Past headliners have included Tony Bennett, Buddy Guy and Lady Gaga. This year's performers include Ziggy Marley and Aussie guitar god Tommy Emmanuel.
Vancouver International Dragon Boat Festival – Friday, June 23 to Sunday, June 25
Granville Island BrewingBoat racers and enthusiasts flock to the gorgeous Creekside Park in False Creek each summer for the annual Vancouver International Dragon Boat Festival, North America’s largest dragon boat festival. Teams compete in endurance races across False Creek against the backdrop of the Vancouver cityscape. Sponsored by Granville Island Brewing, this event will have no shortage of flavourful brews to enjoy while watching the waterworks. There will also be free music on the main stage and games like the “Fling Ring Toss,” which is likely significantly more challenging after a visit to the beer tent. This year’s fest will take place over a three-day period from June 23 to June 25. You won’t want to miss the boat on this one! (Cue cymbal crash.)
Let's Hear it for Yaletown Jazz Series – Monday, June 26 to Friday, June 30
Yaletown is getting jazzy! In celebration of 150 years of music in Canada, Yaletown will be hosting five days of free outdoor jazz. Vancouverites are invited to join the community at Bill Curtis Square (Canada Line Station at Mainland and Davie) to see Canadian jazz bands performing live at lunchtime and after work. Before you settle in to enjoy the smooth sounds of jazz, we highly recommend going across the street to grab an artisan ice cream at Mister (try the S'mores!).
Click here for more information.
Canada Day Celebrations – Saturday, July 1 and Sunday, July 2
Canada PlaceCanada Day at Canada Place
There will be a bounty of Canada Day-themed activities and free outdoor concerts at Canada Place (999 Canada Place, Vancouver) all day on July 1. It's only a short walk from the Canada Day Parade, and the spot offers great views of the evening fireworks taking place next door in Coal Harbour.
Canada Day Fireworks – Saturday, July 1
The best place to watch the city’s famous Canada Day firework display is anywhere along the water in Coal Harbour, including Canada Place, around the Convention Centre or around the Coal Harbour seawall between the Convention Centre and the Vancouver-facing side of Stanley Park. Those in North Van also have access to primo views from Lonsdale Quay, the pier by Shipbuilder’s Square and Waterfront Park. The fireworks normally start at 10:30 p.m.
Canada Day Parades – Sunday, July 2
Vancouver’s Canada Day Parade starts at 7 p.m., and goes along Georgia beginning at Broughton, and then turns down Burrard, finishing at West Pender. For those on the North Shore or those who would rather attend an earlier parade, there is a Canada Day celebration and parade on the North Shore that starts around 10 a.m. The parade route goes along 13th Street from Grand Boulevard before heading down 17th Street via Lonsdale Avenue to Mahon Park, but the best viewing place is by 14th Street and Lonsdale.
Canada Day at Waterfront Park
If you prefer your festivities a little more low-key than the madness occurring downtown, consider checking out North Vancouver’s Canada Day bash in Waterfront Park. The afternoon event features family-friendly activities, an artisan craft market, food vendors, dancers, live music and bagpipes and is only a short walk from the Seabus terminal at Lonsdale Quay.
Steveston Village Salmon Festival
Head down to Richmond on July 1 to check out the famous Stevenson Village Salmon Festival and celebrate our country's 150th at “Canada’s Biggest Little Birthday Party.” The event normally attracts more than 70,000 people, and features a parade with appearances from local celebrities (to be announced), a car show, a communal singing of ‘O Canada’, a pancake breakfast and much more. The main attraction is a salmon barbecue where over 1,200 pounds of wild salmon filets are grilled over open fire pits. The popular treat sells out every year and goes for $15 per plate. (Price subject to change.)
Vancouver Greek Summerfest – Thursday, July 6 to Sunday, July 16
Facebook/Greek SummerFestOpa! Now in its 31st consecutive year, Greek SummerFest is back from July 6 to July 16. The festival is a celebration of Greek entertainment and delectable Greek cuisine. From the famous “BBQ lamb” and “loukoumades” (unbelievably tasty balls of deep-fried, honey-basted dough) to the dozens of singers and dancers on the performance stage, this family-friendly event is definitely worth checking out. Free to attend, it's located in East Vancouver near the Burnaby border and attracts tens of thousands of people from across the Lower Mainland and around the world each year.
Theatre Under The Stars – Friday, July 7 to Saturday, August 19
Theatre Under The StarsTheatre Under The Stars (610 Pipeline Road, Vancouver) is an immersive outdoor theatre event that fuses setting, scenery, concessions and art to create a refreshingly unique evening on the town. Founded in 1940 by the Parks Board, the not-for-profit organization has been bringing world-class theatre, song and dance to the city for over 75 years. Under the stars, in the forest, amongst breathtaking Douglas Firs is definitely the way to enjoy theatre—forget the stuffy recycled air and uncomfortable seats of traditional playhouses. Performances this year include Disney’s Mary Poppins and a rendition of the 1920s musical The Drowsy Chaperone, which will both be playing at various times between July 7 and August 19.
Indian Summer Festival – Thursday, July 6 to Saturday, July 15
Facebook/Indian Summer Festival CanadaIn a world that can sometimes be discouraging, learn to love instead of label. Each year, the Indian Summer Festival, held at venues around Vancouver, prides itself on creating a society that we’d like to see, and with this year’s theme "Tales of War and Peace," it aspires to embrace all culture and celebrate diversity. With a compelling mix of award-winning artists who offer hope and courage, but who aren’t afraid to hold up a mirror to ugly truth, you may well leave these shows a different person than when you arrived.
Ticket prices vary
Harrison Festival of the Arts – Saturday, July 8 to Sunday July 16
Harrison Festival of the ArtsNow in its 31st year, Harrison Festival of the Arts is one of the longest-running music and arts celebrations in Canada. The 10-day event takes place in venues throughout the village, spanning the entire length of the beach, and presents a dynamic mix of Canadian and international music, theatre, literary and visual arts performances. There's also an outdoor craft market for kids and the always-popular "North of 60 Fiddle Jam": a championship battle of fiddlers from across northern Canada.
Full pass $174 ($150 for students & seniors); early bird full pass (until June 23) $150 ($140 students & seniors)
Khatsahlano – Saturday, July 8
Facebook/Khatsahlano Street PartyFeaturing an eclectic array of local artisans, street performers, food options, beer gardens and more than 50 of Vancouver’s top musical performers, Khatsahlano on West 4th has grown from a relatively small community-based affair to Vancouver’s largest free music and arts festival. The 10-block street fair, spanning form Burrard to MacDonald, embodies Kitsilano’s iconic bohemian vibe and is always well-attended by people of all ages from across the city. This year’s event will take place on July 8 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Phantom of the Opera on Stage – Wednesday, July 12 to Sunday, July 23
Broadway Across CanadaThe iconic theatre experience Phantom of the Opera is coming to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre (650 Hamilton Street) from July 12 to July 23 as part of its highly anticipated North American tour. Though the story and musical score will remain the same as Andrew Lloyd Webber’s original work, the show boasts new special effects, grandiose set and lighting designs, and staging and choreography that have been hailed by critics as “bigger and better than ever.”
Click here for detailed showtimes and ticket listings
Vancouver Folk Music Festival – Thursday, July 13 to Sunday, July 16
Colin MillsThe Vancouver Folk Music Festival is an annual outdoor multi-stage shindig located in Jericho Beach Park. The community-based celebration has an internationally renowned reputation for showcasing some of the biggest names from contemporary folk and roots music artists from around the world. The festival annually attracts 38,000-plus people to enjoy the more than 60 international, local and national acts. This year's performers include Barenaked Ladies, Noah Gunderson, Blind Pilot and many more.
Surrey Fusion Festival – Saturday, July 22 to Sunday, July 23
Facebook/Surrey Fusion FestivalNamed “Best Festival” at the Special Event Magazine Gala Awards in 2014 and awarded Best Cultural Event in Canada, the Surrey Fusion Festival is a fun outdoor gala that celebrates cultural diversity and inclusivity. The family-friendly event features over 70 acts on six stages and over 45 pavilions showcasing the distinct music, food, traditional clothing, and dance from a range of diverse nationalities. This year’s two-day festival will take place on July 22 to July 23 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Admission is free (food at cultural pavilion requires tickets)
Caribbean Days Festival – Saturday, July 29 to Sunday, July 30
Flickr/TTC Of BCPresented by the Trinidad & Tobago Cultural Society of B.C., the city's annual Caribbean Days Festival takes place from July 29 to July 30 around the North Shore's Waterfront Park. Festivities kick off a week before the festival on Sunday, July 23, with a zesty Caribbean-style family boat cruise featuring tropical rhythm on-board a private charter with Top Deck views. There is also a Multicultural Street Parade that takes place on July 29 at 10 a.m., beginning on Lonsdale and 13th before heading down Lonsdale to Esplanade, then turning west to arrive at Waterfront Park and terminating at Forbes & Esplanade; the whole convoy features Caribbean beats, steel bands, floats and dancers.
And when you’re down there, be sure to check to the Island & International Food Fair in Waterfront Park to enjoy spicy Caribbean fare. What's more, take a stroll past the Tropical Rhythm Sound Stage, an outdoor music festival featuring the best soca, reggae, calypso and Latin music acts in the city accompanied by a Family Zone with face painting and a children’s playground.
Admission is free
Squamish Wind Festival – Thursday, July 27 to Sunday, July 30
Facebook/Squamish Wind FestivalFrom art in the park to sailboat races to a budding array of farmers’ markets, craft B.C. brews and food vendors, there's something for just about everyone at this four-day community open house. This free wind- and water-inspired festival is an ode to the city’s breathtaking coastal beauty, and features tons of free music, kite flying, wind-and-water-sport demos, as well as an open house showcasing local art and music.
Celebration of Light and SHOREFEST – Saturday, July 29 to Saturday, August 5
Facebook/Celebration of LightHonda’s Celebration of Light is a dazzling three-day pyrotechnic display where three countries compete in choreographed fireworks displays set to themed music. It is the largest annual offshore fireworks competition in the world, and last year’s festival attracted over 1.2 million people over the span of three nights. The 25-minute performances will commence at 10 p.m. sharp each night, and the three competing countries this year are Canada (August 5), Japan (July 29) and the U.K. (August 2). The winning team will be announced on August 8.
Admission is free or $57.55 for a seat at the YVR Observation Deck
Harmony Arts Festival – Friday, August 4 to Sunday, August 13
Facebook/Harmony Arts FestivalNow in its 27th season, the West Vancouver Harmony Arts Festival is an award-winning 10-day affair that showcases the best music, performance, cinema and art of the North Shore. Situated amongst the picturesque backdrop of West Vancouver’s stunning waterfront, the free outdoor festival takes place from August 4 to August 13 and offers up a dynamic mix of world-class musical performances, inspiring visual art and delicious local eats.
Fun City Festival – Saturday, August 12 to Sunday, August 13
City of North VancouverEach August, Lower Lonsdale transforms into a wet-and-wild sliding zone filled with vendors, food trucks, live music, DJs and entertainment. Fun City Festival is a unique event on Lower Lonsdale that attracts more than 50,000 people from across the Lower Mainland each year. The main attraction is a massive, 1,000-foot-long water slide that spans down Lonsdale Avenue. The two-day community celebration takes place on August 12 to August 13 from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Vancouver Pride Festival – Sunday, August 6
The Vancouver Pride Festival in the West End celebrates the city’s LGBTQ+ community and includes a world-famous Pride Parade. The festival as a whole is one of the biggest gay pride events in North America, and is routinely attended not only by Vancouver’s LGBTQ+ community, but by the entire city and visitors from around the world. Hundreds of thousands of people turn up each year to enjoy the music, festive atmosphere and thoroughly creative costumes.
The Fair at the PNE – Saturday, August 19 to Monday, September 4
Janine VerreaultNo Vancouver summer is complete without at least one visit to the PNE. This year's Fair will feature special Canada 150 shows and entertainment, plenty of fried food, thrilling rides and new attractions including: a Hockey Hall of Fame exhibit, Toytopia, an RCMP Musical Ride, Craft Beer Fest (with local wineries too!) and much, much more. As is tradition, the Summer Nights Concert series will feature world-class entertainers nightly so don't miss out on performances by The B-52s, The Gipsy Kings, Chicago, Huey Lewis and The News, plus more country, pop and rock artists.
For rates and dates, click here.
Dîner En Blanc – Thursday, August 24th
The Social ConciergeVancouver’s most unique and anticipated outdoor picnic will be returning to the city Thursday, August 24, and you can register online here. Hosted by The Social Concierge, on the evening of the event guests will gather at specific departure points before being guided to a secret location—and don’t forget to bring your own table, chairs and table setting, or you’ll find yourself on the ground the whole evening. With last year bringing 6,000 Vancouverites dressed in their freshest whites to Concord Pacific Place to enjoy an evening of sophisticated entertainment and circus performers, anticipation is high for what they've got in store this year.
For full details and the event's rules and regulations click here.