More than 20 FREE and cheap things to do around Metro Vancouver this May

May 1 2023, 7:45 pm

There’s loads of free and inexpensive fun to be had around town! So let’s get started!

Check out these 26 fun events in Vancouver in May that won’t break the bank, like Shipyards Night Market, Hong Kong Fair, an Art and Music Experience, and more.

And for more great events happening around town, be sure to check out our Listed section.

One-Time Only Events and Activities

North Vancouver’s Shipyards Night Market

Shipyards Night Market

Shipyards Night Market/Facebook

What: North Vancouver’s Shipyards Night Market (SYNM) is celebrating its 10th anniversary in Lower Lonsdale in 2023. The popular free event takes place every Friday and features a beer garden, live music, market vendors and food trucks.

The Shipyards Night Market will also be honouring Ingrid Doerr, the founder of the beloved event, this year.

When: Every Friday from May 12 to September 15, 2023
Time: 3 to 10 pm
Where: The Shipyards — 125 Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver
Cost: Free

As We Rise: Photography From The Black Atlantic

What: As We Rise is an exhibition organized by Aperture and curated by Elliott Ramsey. The photography exhibit at The Polygon Gallery showcases more than 100 photographs from the Wedge Collection, Canada’s largest privately owned collection committed to championing Black artists.

Discover images chosen from Aperture’s recently published book of the same name, including photographs from African diasporic culture from both sides of the Atlantic.

When: Wednesday to Sunday until May 14, 2023
Time: 10 am to 5 pm (open until 8 pm on Thursdays)
Where: The Polygon Gallery – 101 Carrie Cates Court, North Vancouver
Admission: By donation

Jazz Jam

What: ​Cory Weeds hosts the Jazz Jam at Shadbolt Centre, with local jazz musicians performing an improvised evening of music. Attendees of all ages and abilities are welcome to bring their own instruments to jam.

When: May 2, 2023
Time: 6 to 9 pm
Where: Shadbolt Centre for the Arts – 6450 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby
Cost: Free

Life in Balance Art & Music Experience

Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra/Facebook | Gryphon Developments/Submitted

What: Gryphon Development and Vancouver Metropolitan Orchestra (VMO) are partnering for the Life in Balance Concert Series in May, with a premiere event on Wednesday, May 3 at the VAG.

VMO will perform a selection of classical pieces as well as new music at the VAG, including “Life In Balance,” a song composed by VMO Maestro Ken Hsieh for Gryphon’s latest development project, Marco Polo. The free performance will explore the theme of East meets West collaboration and invites guests to take part in the artistic creation.

When: May 3, 2023
Time: 7:30 to 9 pm
Where: Vancouver Art Gallery – 750 Hornby Street, Vancouver
Admission: Free, reserve tickets online

Raised In Chinatown

What: Chinatown Storytelling Centre presents Raised In Chinatown, an exhibition that explores Chinese Canadian youth culture in Saltwater City from the 1910s to 1960s. Presented in partnership with Langara College Design Formation.

When: Fridays to Mondays until June 12, 2023
Time: 11 am to 4 pm
Where: 168 East Pender Street, Vancouver
Cost: $10-$12.50. Free for members and children five and younger. Reserve tickets online

West End Pottery Club’s Spring Sale

What: Discover handcrafted pottery from over 20 ceramic artists from the WEPC studio. Shop and bring home a variety of creations, including dishware, vases, sculptures, ornaments and more.

When: May 6 and 7, 2023
Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Where: Barclay Room – West End Community Centre 870 Denman Street, Vancouver
Admission: Free

Tian Jin Festival

tj fest

TJ Fest/Facebook

What: Celebrating the multiculturalism of the city and highlighting Taiwanese food in particular, TJ Fest is a highly anticipated annual event, celebrating its 11th year this May.

Taking place across two blocks at the Tian-Jin Temple at 3426 Smith Avenue, guests can enjoy expanded offerings set up in an adjacent park featuring free activities for children and families.

When: May 6 and 7, 2023
Time: 11 am to 4 pm
Where: Tian-Jin Temple — 3426 Smith Avenue, Burnaby
Cost: Free

Spot Prawn Festival 2023

What: To celebrate the season of the delectable seafood, Vancouver’s Spot Prawn Festival is set to officially return on Sunday, May 28 at the False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf. The annual event is hosted by the Chef’s Table Society of British Columbia.

When: May 28, 2023
Time: 11 am to 3:30 pm
Where: False Creek Fisherman’s Wharf, 1505 West 1st Avenue, Vancouver
Tickets: Free for access to the docks, view cooking demos and more (family-friendly). $10 for 10 oz of Prawn Bisque and a Bun (family-friendly). $79 for Spot Prawn Brunch with a tasting menu of six spot prawn dishes (19 years and up). Purchase online

Vancouver Hong Kong Fair 2023

What: The second annual Vancouver Hong Kong Fair, presented by HK House, is the biggest Hong Konger cultural celebration in Canada. Guests can visit the free event to learn about the region’s Hong Konger community while checking out the numerous vendors and activities.

When: May 7, 2023
Time: 11 am to 7 pm
Where: Anvil Centre – 777 Columbia Street, New Westminster
Cost: Free. Express Guaranteed-Entry Tickets are on sale now

Janes Walk Vancouver 2023

Jane’s Walk Vancouver/Facebook

What: The annual Jane’s Walk Festival of free citizen-led walking tours is happening throughout Vancouver from May 4 to 7.

Hundreds of cities host Jane’s Walk events on the first weekend of May each year, with architects, community gardeners, artists, neighbours, and more hosting the walking conversations.

When: May 4 to 7, 2023
Time: Various times
Where: Various locations throughout Vancouver
Cost: Free, register online

Eastside Flea

What: Eastside Flea features over 50 local vendors offering a variety of items, including handmade goods and vintage clothing, collectibles and plants, artisan foods and more. Each weekend event will also have food trucks on-site, beverages being served, and a free photo booth.

When: May 6 and 7, 13 and 14, 20 and 21, and 27 and 28, 2023
Time: 11 am to 5 pm
Where: Eastside Studios – 550 Malkin Avenue, Vancouver
Admission: $3, no one turned away for lack of funds

MOSAIC’s 11th Annual Job Fair

What: Are you currently looking for work? Discover your next career at MOSAIC’s 11th Annual Job Fair on May 9, 2023, at the Croatian Cultural Centre.

Meet with 70+ employers looking to fill various jobs in business, finance, IT, hospitality, trades, healthcare, retail, customer service and more.

When: May 9, 2023
Time: 10 am to 3 pm
Where: Croatian Cultural Centre – 3250 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
Cost: Free, register online

Heidelberg Materials Open House

Ocean Concrete

Ocean Concrete/Submitted

What: Heidelberg Materials (formerly Ocean Concrete) is hosting its family-friendly annual open house on Saturday, May 13, with live music, tours around the plant, and more.

The community open house will invite guests to check out Heidelberg Concrete’s huge trucks and honk the air horns. All ages can then play in a giant sandbox, get their face painted, have the chance to win prizes, and more.

When: May 13, 2023
Time: 9 am to 4 pm
Where: Heidelberg Materials (formerly Ocean Concrete) – 1415 Johnston Street, Vancouver
Cost: Free

Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival Block Parties – Coquitlam

What: Running on various dates through to the end of June, each block party promises to round up more than 25 different food trucks, as well as a beer garden, local market vendors, and live entertainment.

The events are all free and dog-friendly, too, so you’re welcome to bring your furry companion to join in on all the summery (and springy) food fun.

When: May 13 and 14, 2023
Time: 11 am to 8 pm (Saturday), 11 am to 7 pm (Sunday)
Where: Town Centre Park – 1299 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam
Admission: Free

The Headroom at Wild Thing on Main

What: Vancouver’s 1980s dance party The Headroom will be taking over Wild Thing on Main on May 8 for a “night of tubular tunes, ’80s-inspired cocktails, and our famous vintage decor and neon lighting.” There is no cover price for this event, and guests are encouraged to dress up.

When: May 8, 2023
Time: Starts at 6 pm
Where: Wild Thing on Main, 2420 Main Street, Vancouver
Admission: Free

Recurring Events and Activities

Vancouver Art Gallery – Free First Friday Nights

Vancouver Art Gallery

Vancouver Art Gallery/Facebook

What: The Vancouver Art Gallery was founded in 1931 and is renowned as one of North America’s leading visual arts institutions. There are a variety of exhibitions currently on display at the largest public art museum in western Canada, including The Children Have To Hear Another Story: Alanis Obomsawin, Shary Boyle: Outside The Palace Of Me, and a spotlight feature on Heiltsuk artist KC Hall.

When: The first Friday of every month starting on May 5, 2023
Time: 4 to 8 pm
Where: 750 Hornby Street, Vancouver
Cost: Free

Bill Reid Gallery – Free Admission Day

What: The Bill Reid Gallery is named after the renowned Haida artist and is the only public gallery dedicated to contemporary Indigenous Art of the Northwest Coast in the country. The gallery is home to the Simon Fraser University Bill Reid Collection and also hosts a variety of special exhibitions, workshops, panel discussions, and more.

Guests can visit Bill Reid Gallery for free from 2 to 5 pm on the first Friday of each month.

When: The first Friday of every month
Time: 2 to 5 pm
Where: 639 Hornby Street, Vancouver
Cost: By donation

West Vancouver First Thursdays Art Walk

What: West Vancouver Community Arts Council hosts a free self-guided art walk of the Ambleside and Dundarave neighbourhoods. Explore the local galleries and public art while celebrating local artists.

When: May 4, June 1, July 6 and September 7, 2023
Time: 6 to 8 pm
Where: Various locations. See the map online.
Cost: Free

Community Jam at The Improv Centre

What: The Improv Centre welcomes performers of all levels to get up onstage with professionally trained improvisers at its free monthly community jam. The 18+ event features theatre exercises, improv games and scenes, and more during the fun, interactive jam.

When: The last Saturday of every month.
Time: 3:30 to 5:30 pm
Where: The Improv Centre – 1502 Duranleau Street, Vancouver
Cost: Free

Richmond Night Market 2023

Richmond Night Market

Courtesy Richmond Night Market

What: Richmond Night Market is gearing up for another season filled with epic eats and live entertainment. This market draws crowds from across the province who travel to check out the rows on rows of vibrant cuisine and unique shopping along with the diverse lineup of nightly performances on the 50-foot stage.

When: Fridays to Sundays until October 9, 2023, plus some holiday Mondays
Time: Friday from 7 pm to 12 am; Saturday from 6 pm to 12 am; Sunday from 7 pm to 11 pm (Holiday hours may vary)
Where: 8351 River Road, Richmond (near Bridgeport Station)

Eat fresh with farmers’ markets

Trout Lake Farmers’ Market

Trout Lake Farmers' Market

Trout Lake Farmers’ Market/

What: This farmers’ market began back in 1995 and became the cornerstone of the Vancouver Farmers’ Market collective of markets. One of the most popular of the markets, Trout Lake has food trucks on-site and a variety of vendors selling fresh local produce, locally made goods, and all things food.

When: Every Saturday until October 28, 2023
Time: 9 am to 2 pm
Where: Lakewood Drive and East 13th Avenue, Vancouver

Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market

What: Find fresh groceries, locally sourced produce, as well as artisanal food offerings at the Mount Pleasant Farmers’ Market, held weekly at Dude Chilling Park in Mount Pleasant

When: Every Sunday from May 21 to October 29, 2023
Time: 10 am to 2 pm
Where: Dude Chilling Park – 2300 Guelph Street, Vancouver

Clayton Community Farmers’ Market

Meet over 70 local farmers and handmade vendors at the Clayton Community Market. Each week also features food trucks, live music and more at Clayton Community Centre.

When: May 14 and 28, June 11 and 25, July 9 and 23, August 6 and 20, September 3 and 17, October 1 and 15, 2023
Time: 10 am to 3 pm
Where: The Clayton Community Centre – 7155 187A Street, Surrey

Kitsilano Farmers’ Market

What: Kitsilano Farmers’ Market takes place on Sundays in the parking lot of the Community Centre and offers a good selection of fresh local produce and gourmet treats to stock up on the week. There are also a number of artisan vendors and food trucks to check out at the market.

When: Every Sunday from May 7 until October 29, 2023
Time: 10 am to 2 pm
Where: Kitsilano Community Centre – 2690 Larch Street, Vancouver

West End Farmers’ Market

West End Farmers' Market

Vancouver Farmers’ Market/Facebook

The West End’s charming, community-minded farmers’ market is open Saturdays. Grab a coffee, peek at the adjacent community garden, and stock up on a vast array of locally grown foods.

When: Every Saturday from May 20 until October 28, 2023
Time: 9 am to 2 pm
Where: Comox Street (between Bute and Thurlow), Vancouver

Heart of Vancouver Public Market

What: Visitors can shop for locally grown veggies and handmade goods, enjoy live entertainment, and more at the monthly Heart of Vancouver Public Market.

The event will showcase a few dozen vendors offering jams and jellies, kimchi, fresh flowers and seedlings, dog expertise, farm fresh eggs, Indigenous jewellery, and more.

When: May 13, June 10, July 22, August 26, September 9, October 21, November 18, and December 9, 2023
Time: 10 am to 3 pm
Where: West 17th Avenue at Cambie Street, Vancouver
Cost: Free

Daniel ChaiDaniel Chai

+ Listed