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50 things to do in Vancouver this summer

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DH Vancouver Staff Jun 19, 2015 4:04 pm

Summer is here, and it’s definitely the best time of the year in Vancouver. There is so much going on every day, so get out there and soak up all the sunshine you can.

We’ve compiled a list for you to make the most of your summer: consider this your bucket list.

FREE things to do in the summer Vancouver 2015 

Fresh Air Cinema

Fresh Air Cinema

Free Outdoor Movies at Stanley Park

On average, more than 6,000 people attend the weekly outdoor movie night at Stanley Park, this year brought to you by Evo Car Share. The free outdoor movies return every Tuesday from July 7 to August 25.

  • When: Every Tuesday from July 7 to August 25.
  • Cost: FREE for all to attend
  • Start times: At Dusk. Check sunset times as that will be your best indication of when the movie will start. Of course, this is also weather dependent.
  • Location: Stanley Park – Ceperley Meadows (Second Beach)
  • Movie schedule

Free Outdoor Movies elsewhere in Metro Vancouver

Vancouver isn’t the only city in Metro Vancouver where one can get your free outdoor movie fix. Our guide to Free Outdoor Movies in Metro Vancouver will be out soon.

Honda Celebration of Light Fireworks

Fireworks, bleacher seats, food, music and other performances and activities will also be back to add to the city’s largest and most anticipated summer festival.

  • Saturday, July 25: China by Team Lidu
  • Wednesday, July 29: Brazil by Group Vision Show
  • Saturday, August 1: Canada by Archangel Fireworks

All shows begin at 10 p.m. and end at 10:25 p.m – rain or shine.

Vancouver Pride Parade

Attracting crowds of more than 650,000, the annual Pride Parade is the city’s largest parade and is renowned on the international stage as on of the largest and most successful events in the world, in support of LGBTQ communities.

  • When: August 2
  • Time: Noon to 3 p.m.

Canada Day Fireworks, Celebrations and Parade in Vancouver

Western Canada’s largest Canada Day Celebration is a jam packed day filled with fun for the whole family and is capped off by an impressive Burrard Inlet Fireworks display.

  • Date: July 1
  • Time: All day, fireworks at around 10 p.m.
  • Location: Canada Place, Jack Poole Plaza and the seawall near the Convention Centre

Free Salsa Dancing at Robson Square

Sunday Afternoon Salsa at Robson Square is an annual series of free, outdoor salsa dances held at Robson Square during the summer months of July and August. The 2015 Sunday Afternoon Salsa season runs for nine Sundays.

  • When: Every Sunday from July 5 to August 30, 3:30 to 7 p.m.
  • Where: Robson Square
  • Cost: Free

Gastown Grand Prix

For one day, the charming cobblestone streets of Gastown are transformed into one of the fastest, best-loved and most challenging cycling race courses in North America. This event is free for spectators and is guaranteed to be a fun afternoon/evening out.

When: Wednesday, July 15
Time: Starts at 5:30 p.m.

FREE PNE Admission Day

You may think The Fair is overpriced and far too small for a metro region of 2.5 million, but it’s hard to say no when admission is free. Expect long lineups if the weather cooperates. Don’t say we didn’t warn you.

When: Tuesday, August 25
Time: 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. – FREE gate admission for all guests.
Cost: Re-entrance hand stamps will only be given after 1 p.m. Guests are welcome to re-enter the gates prior to 1 p.m. without hand stamp.


Food, drinks and patios

Image: Phoenix45photo

Image: Phoenix45photo

Farmers’ Markets

Farmers’ markets are a great way to spend a morning or afternoon in the city with people who love fresh food and festive gatherings. Since starting in 1995, Vancouver Farmers Markets have become plazas of fun, discovery and connecting. When you shop at them, you help keep B.C. farmers farming. Check out our guide to the numerous Farmers Markets around Metro Vancouver.

Night Markets

The one in Chinatown may be cancelled, but Surrey added their own and then there are still the returning three night markets – two in Richmond and one in North Vancouver. Plus this year there is also the Night Market at the Plaza of Nations. Check out our guide to Night Markets in Metro Vancouver.

Food Cart Festival at Olympic Village

Vancouver’s original food cart festival returns. For more information check out our post on Food Cart Fest Vancouver 2015.

  • Dates: Every Sunday in the summer starting June 28
  • Time: Noon to 5 p.m.
  • Location: 215 West 1st Avenue (Between the Cambie Bridge and Olympic Village)
  • Cost: $2 admission/FREE for Vancity Bank members, Car2go members, and or those who bring a non-perishable food donation to the event for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society

Grab some gelato or ice cream

Vancouver is no slouch when it comes to great gelato spots. One of the world’s best gelato shops is right here in our fair city. You’ll find it and other shops in our best gelato/ice cream in Vancouver guide.

Hit up some of the great patios around the city

Enjoy a pint in the hot summer sun in one of the many great patios in the city. Check out our guide ultimate guide to patios in Vancouver.

Go on a Craft Beer Crawl in Vancouver’s Brewery District 

The craft beer scene is in full swing in Vancouver with new breweries popping up every month. Grab your bike and go on a Craft Beer Bike Tour or hop on the Vancouver Brewery Tours and enjoy some of the great craft beer this city has to offer.

Brewery and the Beast Festival

The popular meat-centric event celebrates the best in whole animal cooking, using meat that is raised locally and ethically. Local chefs showcase their talent on the plate with tantalizing samples representing a vast array of meat preparations, including whole animal roasts, charcuterie, classic BBQ, traditional, ethnic, modern, and exotic dishes prepared from an assortment of conventional and rare cuts of protein.

  • When: Sunday, July 26, 2015, 1 to 4 p.m.
  • Where: Concord Pacific Lot – 88 Pacific Boulevard

Diner En Blanc

The date for this year’s event has not been set yet, so stay tuned for that. Also as with every annual event around the world, the location is announced at the last minute. Last year over 2,000 people attend the annual white dinner party. Expect just as many this year.

Grab a brew at the PNE

The Fair at the PNE this year will feature a new and exciting area, the Craft Beer Festival. This licensed area will feature 20 local craft brewers each week for festival goers to sample a range of unique craft beers being developed in the Lower Mainland.

Free Slurpee Day

Every year on July 11 (get it 7/11) you can enjoy a free Slurpee from participating locations.


Music Festivals and Block Parties Galore

Image: Kassidy Parkinson via YouTube

Image: Kassidy Parkinson via YouTube

Squamish Music Festival (August 7 to 9)

Arguably the biggest festival to hit the Metro Vancouver area this year: Drake, Sam Smith and Mumford & Sons will headline the annual music festival, which has solidified itself as the premier music festival in Western Canada.

FVDED in The Park (July 3 and 4)

Make the trek over to the sprawling suburb of Surrey for a two day festival you soon won’t forget. The Weeknd and Deadmau5 will headline what is arguably the biggest music festival to hit the valley. More information at Fvdedinthepark.com.

Mad Decent Block Party

Once again, Blueprint and Live Nation are bringing the Mad Decent Block Party to Vancouver as Diplo and his crew return to bring the noise to the PNE Amphitheatre. It will be an all ages show with a VIP (19+) area as well. If you went last year you may want to invest the few extra dollars and get in the VIP.

Pemberton Music Festival (July 16 to 19)

Pemberton Music Festival is back again this year with a focus on a younger festival audience. Headliners include Kendrick Lamar, The Black Keys, J. Cole and Tiesto.

Vancouver Folk Music Festival (July 17 to 19)

Presenting some of the world’s finest traditional and contemporary folk, world and roots music artists in the urban seaside beauty of Jericho Beach Park, the 38th annual Vancouver Folk Music Festival returns this summer.

  • Where: Jericho Beach Park
  • Ticket Information: Early Bird Adult Weekend Pass: $145 (available until June 15)
    Children 12 and under are free with an adult.
  • Website: www.thefestival.bc.ca

Khatsahlano Block Party

Over 150,000 people are expected to attend the city’s largest block party. West 4th in Kits will be shut down for a day of music, food, beer and lots more.

  • When: July 11, 2015
  • Time: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Where: West 4th from Burrard to MacDonald
  • Website: khatsahlano.com

Victory Square Block Party

Vancouver’s favourite free community concert returns at Victory Square at the edge of Gastown.

  • When: Sunday, September 6
  • Time: 1:30 to 9 p.m.
  • Where: Victory Square – 150 West Hastings

East Van Summer Jam

Ab-Soul, Mayer Hawthorne, Kelela, The Boom Booms, Esta, Slow Jam Sundays, B.J. The Chicago Kid, Kinnie Starr, Star Captains, Chin Injeti and The Lifetimes – all in one place for the East Van Summer Jam.

  • When: Saturday, July 4, 2015
  • Where: Strathcona Park, Vancouver, BC
  • Time: noon
  • Tickets: Advance tickets $45 (plus appl. s/c) Available online

Davie Street Block Party for Vancouver Pride Week

Play games or dance with Pride to the hottest DJs of the summer! This is now an all ages community focused event for Vancouver’s LGBTQ community, families, and allies. Come at 4 p.m. to participate in carnival games in two community blocks (Thurlow-Jervis), listen to music, and participate in games by donation hosted by community groups and local non-profits. Held in partnership with the West End BIA.

The beer garden is 19+ and opens up at 6 p.m., be sure to bring your ID, the beer garden is ticketed be sure to purchase your tickets in advance from the Vancouver Pride Society Website.

  • When: July 31
  • Time: 6 p.m. to midnight
  • Where: Davie Street (between Thurlow and Jervis)

PNE FREE Summer Concert Series

This year’s Summer Night Concerts feature an exciting array of artists that are sure to please fans of all genres. Pop stars, Country favourites, R&B icons, and Rock ‘N’ Roll legends, will all be showcased at the 2015 PNE Concert series. See the full schedule and lineup.

Check out the Vancouver Jazz Festival (June 18 to July 1) 

Vancouver’s signature musical event of the year takes place from June 18 to July 1 with over 300 shows (free and ticketed) and 1,800 artists performing. For more information, visit www.coastaljazz.ca.

Car Free Days (June 20 and 21)

Car Free Days Vancouver will make its return to four different neighbourhoods across Vancouver.

Full Moon Festival

The party planned for last summer was blocked by the RCMP after over 7,000 people said they were attending via the Facebook event page. This year, the event page already has 22,000 people who plan on going. Will it go ahead?

Make Music Vancouver

Over 350 free concerts in one day in Gastown for Make Music Vancouver 2015 on July 24.

Red Truck Beer Concert Series

Red Truck Beer, CFOX and 93.7 JRFM announced the launch of the Red Truck Parking Lot Concert Series at the Red Truck Brewery (295 East 1st Avenue). The outdoor concerts will be held over four hot summer afternoons and will feature Canadian radio icons The Trews, the groove juggernauts Five Alarm Funk, blues rockers Head of the Herd and rising country star Logan Mize.

  • When:
    Saturday, June 13
    Saturday, July 11
    Saturday, August 15
    Saturday, September 12
  • Where: Red Truck Brewery Parking Lot – 295 East 1st Avenue, Vancouver
  • Time: 4 p.m., concert starts at 6 p.m.
  • Tickets: On sale Friday, May 8 at 10 a.m. at redtruck.brownpapertickets.com

Prospect Point Concert

The Vancouver Park Board has voted in favour of an inaugural Clean Up the Ocean Concert at Prospect Point in Stanley Park on July 4, featuring live DJs, bands and food.

The event will take place on Saturday, July 4 from 1 to 8 p.m. at the Prospect Point picnic area, with a capacity for 800 guests.


Enjoy the Great Outdoors

Couple running via Shutterstock

Couple running via Shutterstock

Go swimming at one of Vancouver’s Outdoor Pools

Vancouver’s outdoor pools operate through the Labour Day weekend: Kitsilano Pool is typically open until mid-September; Maple Grove Pool opens June 21 and closes September 1; and Hillcrest Centre’s outdoor pool will open in July after annual maintenance and repairs are complete. You also have Second Beach Pool and New Brighton Pool in East Vancouver.

Run or bike ride along the seawall

Whether you rent or own, you have to do this route at least once. If you’re looking for another, be on the lookout for best biking routes in Vancouver article shortly.

Go for a hike

The Chief is one of the more popular hikes, but there are plenty of other hikes in Metro Vancouver for you to attempt. Slap on some sunscreen, get on your shorts and grab some water and prepare to take on mother nature.

Do the Grouse Grind

The Grouse Grind is one of those Vancouver things you have to try at least once in the summer. Attempt to beat your time or just make it to the top without stopping (unless a tourist gets in your way).

Spend a day at the Beach

Vancouver is known for our beautiful beaches. Whether it’s a grassy field, areas for water sports, or dog parks, each Vancouver beach has something slightly different to offer. Check out our guide to Vancouver Beaches.

Go camping

There is an abundance of camping options within a short drive outside the city. Here’s a rundown of some of our favourite camping places within an hour or two’s drive of Vancouver.

Slide the City

The first slate of tickets for this summer’s massive 1,000-foot-long slip-and-slide in North Vancouver are now on sale.

The Slide the City attraction, approved by North Vancouver City Council in late-March, is scheduled to occur on Saturday, August 22 along Lonsdale Avenue from Victoria Park at Keith Road and ending down the hill at a splash pool on 3rd Street.

Get your outdoor yoga on at Dude Chilling Park

Yoga instructor Solomon Montijo, along with ten other teachers, hosts free classes daily at 10 a.m. and 6 p.m. in Dude Chilling Park.

Sign up for the annual lululemon Seawheeze

Vancouverites love yoga! Sign up at a local yoga studio and see what outdoor options they have. Also, the annual lululemon Seawheeze Half Marathon has a post-race Sunset Festival at Brockton Oval, where both runners and the general public are welcome to participate in a 10,000+ person yoga class.

Explore Vancouver’s street art

Vancouver’s street art scene has evolved over the years. Take a tour through Gastown, Chinatown, Railtown and other East Vancouver neighbourhoods to find some amazing art.

Hang out at the ‘Porch Parade’ on Robson Street

The City of Vancouver’s VIVA cultural program has announced that ‘Porch Parade’ is the winning design for this summer’s temporary pedestrian plaza at the 800 block of Robson Street – between Howe and Hornby streets.

‘Porch Parade’ features a mid-street vibrantly coloured “party wall” as the most visually defining aspect of the entire functional art piece. Porches straddle the wall to create a “spatially complex yet simply constructed neighbourhood.”


Random and weird events in Vancouver this summer

Image: Yonathan Wezeli

Image: Yonathan Wezeli

Join the Zombie Apocolypse at the Annual Vancouver Zombie Walk

The date for the 2015 Zombiewalk has been pushed back three weeks to September 5 to shift it away from peak tourist season, to cut down on the overload of tourist photographers who have grown hugely in size of the last few Zombie walks.

  • When: September 5
  • Time: 3 to 6 p.m.
  • Where: Meet at the Vancouver Art Gallery (Georgia Street side)

Take part in Vancouver’s Largest Water Fight

The annual event draws hundreds of participants ready to get wet. Make sure you follow the code of conduct, which can be viewed here.

  • When: August 8
  • Time: 1 p.m.
  • Where: Lumberman’s Arch, Stanley Park

Go Topless, Why Not?

Whether it be at Wreck Beach or you want to bare it all on annual go topless day, why not let loose and let it all hang out. Go Topless Day is a 24-hour period where ladies are encouraged to show their breasts as a protest against hypocritical laws that allow guys to walk around shirtless while women must remain clothed.

Bike Rave

Vancouver’s favourite annual glowtastic mobile dance party on wheels, Bike Rave will once again be going down. The date has yet to be announced.

Bare Buns Run

The run is a 5 km circular course and will be an officially-timed event. This will be the fifth year the race is offering the option of team participation, but a minimum of three bare bun runners is required. For those unable to run, the event is also open to walkers and families in the “Slowpoke” category.

The run takes place on August 15.

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DH Vancouver Staff
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