Enjoying summer on a budget? We’ve got your hookup to great free events happening in Vancouver! From Canada Day to Khatsahlano Street Party and Surrey Fusion Festival, here are 37 free things to do around the city this July.
What: The festivities start with a citizenship ceremony at 2 pm followed by live entertainment, kids activities and a variety of food vendors. Be sure to stay and enjoy the fireworks show from the beach.
Where: John Lawson Park, 17th Street and Bellevue Avenue
What: Kick off your Squamish Canada Day with a parade on Cleveland Avenue and flag raising and cake cutting at Stan Clarke Park. Then spend the day enjoying the market and entertainment at Junction Park, followed by fireworks.
What: The event features children’s activities, local talent showcase, food vendors and salmon BBQ, community marketplace music by Jordan Klassen and more. Then grab a blanket and top the day off with fireworks at dusk.
Where: Castle Crescent at Citadel Drive, Port Coquitlam
What: Start your Canada Day off with the Kiwanis Club Annual Pancake Breakfast at Evergreen Hall (9291 Corbould St.) at 8 am. Then enjoy a full day of family-friendly activities at Townsend Park, followed by musical performances and fireworks in the evening.
Where: Townsend Park – 45130 Wolfe Road, Chilliwack
What: Whether you’re a huge jazz fan or just getting into it, there’s something for everyone at the 32nd annual TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. This year’s highlights include a new initiative called Spotlight on Italy, as well as the festival’s first-ever collaboration with the VSO, courtesy of Branford Marsalis. More than 1,800 artists are slated to perform across 35 venues.
What: One of the most popular summertime events in the city is back as free outdoor movies return to Stanley Park this summer! The Evo Summer Cinema Series features a four-story inflatable movie screen showing favourites such as The LEGO Batman Movie, Toy Story, The Goonies and Jaws. Please bring your own blankets and/or lawn chairs and, since it’s a family-friendly event, smoking or alcohol is not permitted. Movie goers are encouraged to walk, take transit, or bike to Stanley Park for the shows – there will be a bike valet service offered on site each night too.
Where: Ceperley Meadows near Second Beach, Stanley Park
What: Take a trip back to the days of poodle-skirts, greased hair, and doo wop music – the Drive-In Movie Series returns to Lansdowne Centre for third year, presented by Fresh Air Cinema. Enjoy classic, family-friendly, and even some of the latest hits on an outdoor screen. Take a drive and cuddle up, or bring a blanket and lawn chair and settle in. Parking is on a first-come first-served basis (first 200 vehicles), with movie audio will be broadcast over FM radio. And keep in mind that this is a family-friendly event, so smoking and alcohol are strictly prohibited.
Where: Lansdowne Centre, west parking lot – 5300 No. 3 Road, Richmond
What: The Indian Summer Arts Society organizes the Indian Summer Festival every July, to showcase provocative artists and visionaries from Canada, South Asia and beyond. The theme for this year’s festival is ‘Tales of War and Peace’, and includes an array of award-winning artists, musicians, and authors.
What: Carnaval de Sol is the biggest Latin festival in the Pacific Northwest. It will be 2 days of live music, art, dance, sports, and poetry in celebration of Latin American Culture. For 2017, Carnaval del Sol will bring together more than 350 artists from different Latin American countries.
What: New West’s favourite outdoors festival is coming back this summer, and residents from all over the Lower Mainland can see bands including Coco Jafro, Lion Bear Fox, Echo Nebraska, and others. Multiple stages, food trucks, and art installations make this one a can’t-miss.
What: A blaze of fireworks will shower over English Bay in downtown Vancouver this summer over a trio of nights for the 2017 Honda Celebration of Light fireworks competition. The participating countries for the festival’s 27th year are Japan (Saturday, July 29), United Kingdom (Wednesday, August 2), and Canada (Saturday, August 5).
Where: English Bay, Vancouver
When: Saturday, July 29: Japan, represented by AKARIYA Fireworks; Wednesday, August 2:United Kingdom, represented by Jubilee Fireworks; Saturday, August 5:Canada, represented by Royal Pyrotechnie
Time: 10 to 10:28 pm (28-minute duration each night). Rain or shine. Music simulcast on radio station LG 104.3 FM.
What: As the centrepiece of the year-long Canada on Screen program, The Cinematheque celebrates Canada Day and Canada’s 150th birthday with a week of free screenings, featuring many of Canada’s greatest film (and television) works, from Anne of Green Gables to Jesus Of Montreal.
Where: The Cinematheque – 6810 Main Street, Vancouver
When: Now to July 7 at various times
Cost: Free and available on a first-come, first-served basis from The Cinematheque box office on the day of the screening.
What: Featuring nine pro races over the course of 10 days, BC Superweek has fast become one of the most prestigious pro-cycling events in North America with a total prize purse of more than $120,000! Featuring 6 separate events as part of the series, BC Superweek consists of the Tour de Delta, New West Grand Prix, Global Relay Gastown Grand Prix, Giro di Burnaby, PoCo Grand Prix, and Tour de White Rock.
Where: Delta, New Westminster, Vancouver, Burnaby, Port Coquitlam and White Rock
What: This free annual festival will take over 10 blocks along Kitsilano’s 4th Avenue, with main stages at both Burrard Street and MacDonald Street. The Zolas, The Courtneys, D.O.A. and Lousie Burns are among a massive lineup.
When: July 8
Time: 11 am to 9 pm
Where: Along 4th Avenue between Burrard Street and MacDonald Street
What: The festival stretches across 15 blocks featuring local artisans, musicians, community activities, delicious food, tons of entertainment and activities for all ages. As the place that Car Free Day began, Commercial Drive stays true to its grassroots beginnings and the story behind the festival.
When: July 9
Time: Noon to 7 pm
Where: Venables to North Grandview on Commercial Drive
What: The ultimate celebration of music, food and culture, right in the heart of Surrey, with musical performances across six different stages, and 40 cultural pavilions offering culinary delights from all over the world. Headliners include Nelly Furtado, Classified, The Zolas and Alx Veliz.
What: A weekend of tropical rhythms and cuisine organized by the Trinidad & Tobago Cultural Society of BC. The north side of Waterfront Park has a food concession area and a large beverage garden. Enjoy spicy Caribbean food as well as other international fare, then relax with an ice-cold drink in the hot sun. On the south side, there is an outdoor music festival. Dancers and other performers entertain while bands play Reggae, Calypso, Latin and other international sounds to a large crowd. There is a Family Zone with face painting, a children’s playground and other activities.
When: July 29 and 30
Time: 11 am to 7 pm. Parade on Saturday starts at 10 am
Where: Waterfront Park – Lonsdale Quay, North Vancouver
What: Returning for its second year, Mat Collective started as a yoga mat recycling program. Now, the program will offer free yoga indoor and outdoor classes every day all summer long. Mat Collective offers five classes: Hatha, Flow, Power, Kundalini, and Yin. The classes are designed for all levels.
Where: Classes take place at Kitsilano Beach Park 1499 Arbutus Street and 95 East 32nd Avenue in Vancouver. Check the full schedule here.
What: High-tech artwork along the entire undersurface of the Cambie Street Bridge meant to represent the “life blood” of the West Coast will be officially unveiled to the public on June 28. Uninterrupted by director Nettie Wild, producers Betsy Carson and Rae Hull and editor Michael Brockington it is meant to tell the the story of Wild Pacific Salmon’s life journey.
Where: Viewed from North Side of Cambie Street Bridge at Coopers Park
When: 25 minute shows nightly from Tuesdays to Saturdays; June 28 to August 14 at 10 pm (Note: no shows on Celebration of Light fireworks nights); August 15 to September 24 at 9 pm
What: Whether you’re a beginner or Salsa pro, these afternoons will definitely spice up your summer. Enjoy a free dance lesson taught by some of Vancouver’s best salsa instructors. Following the lessons, there is a dance show that features some of Vancouver’s most talented dancers.
Where: Robson Square – 800 Robson Street, Vancouver
When: Every Sunday from July 9 to August 13; lessons run from 3 to 3:30 pm. Dance show starts at 5 pm. After party begins at 7 pm.
What: This local food destination is situated on the corner of Georgia & Hamilton at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza. Shop fresh weekly to enjoy quality fresh fruits and vegetables, meat, eggs and poultry, baked goods, artisan food and craft, fresh fish, and local craft beer, wine and spirits.
Where: Queen Elizabeth Theatre – 650 Hamilton Street, Vancouver
When: Every Thursday to October 5 from 11 am to 3 pm
What: The market where it all began. Come meet your friends and neighbours, pick up supplies for a picnic by the lake, or just rub shoulders with farmers who care about the future of the land as much as the food they put on your plate.
What: Located in the heart of Vancouver’s West End, this laid-back Saturday market looks onto beautiful Nelson Park and adjacent community gardens. Take the dog for a walk and enjoy the best in local produce, prepared foods and crafts.
Where: West End Farmers Market – 1100 Comox Street, Vancouver
When: Every Saturday to October 21 from 9 am to 2 pm
What: Located just steps from the Skytrain, this convenient Wednesday farmers’ market is ideal for local food fans seeking an easy shop on their commute. Over 85% of the vendors at Main Street Station are primary producers offering an excellent mix of fresh and organic produce, meat, eggs, handmade cheeses, and more.
Where: Main Street Station – 1100 Station Street, Vancouver
What: You’ll find familiar faces like Applebarn Pumpkin Farm, Blue Comet Seafoods and Goldwing as well as new ones like Honest Food Farms, Rai Produce and Urban Digs Farm. You won’t have to elbow your way through lines to get at the cauliflower and there’s plenty of adjacent street parking. It’s also only a couple blocks from the 99 B-line.
Where: Dude Chilling Park – 2390 Brunswick Street, Vancouver
When: Every Sunday to October 8 from 10 am to 2 pm
What: This one-of-a-kind market is the only riverfront market in Vancouver. Come shop for fruits and vegetables, prepared foods, and handmade products produced by farmers and artisans. Stay for live music, a delicious meal and enjoy the waterfront, playground and pier.
Where: Kerr Street Plaza – 8683 Street, Vancouver
When: Every Saturday to October 14 from 10 am to 3 pm
What: The Ambleside Farmers’ Market has a wide selection of organic and conventional produce. Prepared food vendors include baking, jams, honey, syrups, salsas and much more. The Ambleside Market has a games table, kids play area, and live music.
Where: Ambleside Farmers Market – 1500 block of Bellevue Street, West Vancouver
When: Every Sunday to October 30 from 10 am to 4 pm
What: The Lonsdale Quay Farmers’ Market has a great selection of conventional and organic produce. You also will find local artisans with jewellery, pottery, photography, kids clothing, soaps & much more. The market also has a book exchange, newspaper reading area, and live music.
Where: East Plaza of the Lonsdale Quay Market – 123 Carrie Cates Court, North Vancouver
When: Every Saturday to October 29 from 10 am to 3 pm
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Daniel Chai is a writer and actor based in Vancouver, BC.