Vancouver Travel Guide



January 1
If you enjoy a swim in cold water, join the Polar Bear Swim at English Bay Beach. Thousands of hardy citizens show up in elaborate costumes to take a dip in the icy waters of English Bay.

Second Sunday in January
Join the Annual Bald Eagle Count in Brackendale. Bald eagles gather every winter near Brackendale to feed on the salmon. The count starts at the Brackendale Art Gallery.


Late January or early February
Chinatowns in Vancouver, Richmond, and Victoria celebrate the Chinese New Year in either late January or early February. These Chinese communities launch a 2-week celebration, ringing in the new year with firecrackers, dancing dragon parades, and other festivities.


Late March or early April
Enjoy the International Wine Festival, a major wine-tasting event featuring the latest international vintages. Each winery sets up a booth where you may try as many varieties as you like, often accompanied by cheese and pâté.


Baisakhi Day Parade. The Sikh Indian New Year is celebrated with a colorful parade around Ross Street near Marine Drive and ends with a vegetarian feast at the temple.

Late April
The Vancouver Sun Run is Canada's biggest 10k race, featuring 17,000 runners, joggers, and walkers who race through 10 scenic kilometers. The run starts and finishes at B.C. Place Stadium.


First Sunday in May
Runners from all over the world gather to compete in a run through the streets of Vancouver in the Vancouver International Marathon.

Mid- to late-May
Professional cowboys from all over North America compete in roping, bull and bronco riding, barrel racing, and many other events at the Cloverdale Rodeo. There are pony rides for kids, great food, and a country fair atmosphere.


Late May or early June
Activities, plays, music, and crafts for children are featured at the International Children's Festival held in Vanier Park on False Creek.

Early June
VanDusen Flower and Garden Show. Presented at the VanDusen Botanical Garden, 5251 Oak St. (at 37th Street).

Late June
National Aboriginal Day Community Celebration. This event offers the public an opportunity to learn about Canada's First Nations cultures. Many events take place at the Vancouver Aboriginal Friendship Center, 1607 E. Hastings at Commercial Street.

Third week in June
Traditional dragon-boat racing is a part of the city's cultural scene and you can enjoy it all during the Alcan Dragon Boat Festival. Watch the races from False Creek's north shore, where more than 150 local and international teams compete. Four stages of music, dance, and Chinese acrobatics are presented at the Plaza of Nations. 604/688-2382.

Festival d'ete francophone de Vancouver is a 4-day festival celebrating francophone music from around the world.

Late June/early July
Enjoy over 800 international jazz and blues players as they perform at 25 venues ranging from the Orpheum Theatre to the Roundhouse during the DuMaurier International Jazz Festival. The festival includes a large number of free performances.

Mid-June to late September
Bard on the Beach-Shakespeare Festival. Some of the best Shakespeare you will ever see as the Bard's plays are performed in a tent overlooking English Bay. Tuesday through Sunday.


July 1
Canada Day This is the big day for all Canadians and they invite you to join in on their celebration. Canada Place Pier hosts an all-day celebration that begins with the induction of new Canadian citizens. Music and dance are performed outdoors throughout the day. There's a 21-gun salute at noon; precision aerobatics teams perform overhead during the afternoon; and a nighttime fireworks display on the harbor tops off the festivities. Other locations that host Canada Day events include Granville Island and Grouse Mountain.

Also on July first, you can enjoy the Steveston Salmon Festival with a parade, salmon barbecue, special arts and crafts exhibits, and lots of good entertainment.

Early July
Competitors race sea kayaks in the Georgia Strait's open waters during the Ecomarine Kayak Marathon. The Jericho Sailing Center (604/689-7575), at Jericho Beach, hosts the race and can provide details.

Harrison Festival of the Arts. This arts festival in the Fraser River valley, just east of Vancouver, attracts an array of performing artists from around the world.

Early to mid-July
Dancing on the Edge. Canadian and international dance groups perform modern and classic works at the Firehall Arts Centre and other venues.

Second or third weekend in July
International folk music is played outdoors at Jericho Beach Park during the Vancouver Folk Music Festival.

End of July on Saturday
Illuminares. Evening lantern procession circling Trout Lake with drums, costumes, and lots of elaborate hand-crafted lanterns. Various performances start at dusk.

End of July to mid-August
Festival Vancouver. This is a major music festival to celebrate the summer. The 17-day event will present over 90 concerts, featuring a diverse collection of music--orchestral, choral, chamber, and world music plus opera and jazz.

Last weekend of July
An annual festival of Japanese culture, the

End of July through first week in August
Benson & Hedges Symphony of Fire. Three international fireworks companies compete for a coveted title by launching their best displays accompanied by music over English Bay Beach.


First Sunday in August
Sponsored by the Vancouver Pride Society, the Vancouver Pride Parade is colorful gay and lesbian pride parade covering a route along Denman and Davie streets. 604/687-0955

First week in August
International Comedy Festival. Comedians from all over Canada and the United States perform at a variety of venues around town. Call 604/683-0883 for more information.

Early August
The Chilliwack Exhibition and Rodeo, in Chilliwack, not far from Vancouver. This cowboy rodeo has been an annual event for over 125 years. 604/792-2861

Abbottsford International Air Show. Everything from barnstorming stuntmen to precision military pilots flying everything from Sopwith Camels to Stealth Bombers. This is one of the biggest air shows in the world. 604/852-8511

For the ultimate in air racing, come to the Vancouver International Air Races in White Rock. This is the ultimate racing event where little planes with big and powerful engines hug the ground as they race around a triangular course marked by tall pylons. Call 604/946-4232 for additional information.

Mid-August to Labor Day
Pacific National Exhibition. This is one of the largest country-styles fairs held in North America. Offerings include one of North America's best all-wooden roller coasters, many other rides, big-name entertainment, and a demolition derby. Special events include livestock demonstrations, logger sports competitions, fashion shows, and a midway. Contact the Pacific National Exhibition 604/253-2311 for more details.

Late August
Greater Vancouver Open (Air Canada Championship). This PGA tour event attracts professional golfers and golf fans from around the world to the North view Golf Country Club.

Wooden Boat Festival, Granville Island. Free event for wooden boat aficionados.


Labor Day
I love auto racing, especially CART. The Molson Indy is the biggest annual event in the streets of Yaletown and False Creek, attracting more than 500,000 spectators.

Early September
The Fringe-Vancouver's Theatre Festival. Centered on the Commercial Drive area, the Fringe Festival features over 500 original shows performed by groups from across Canada and around the world.

Early to mid-September
The North Shore Heritage Weekend. A full weekend of walking and boat tours, craft and historic displays, a vintage-car exhibition, and afternoon teas at various locations.

Late September or early October
Cranberry Harvest Festival. This festival to the little red berry is held at the Richmond Nature Park, 1185 Westminster Hwy. Richmond Nature Park has one of the few remaining wild patches of the berries that are indigenous to British Columbia's bogs.


Early October
The highly respected Vancouver International Film Festival features over 250 new works, revivals, and retrospectives, representing filmmakers from 40 countries. Asian films are particularly well-represented. Attendance reaches more than 110,000 viewers, not including the stars and celebrities who appear annually.

Late October
Vancouver Snow Show. This is the place to be if you are into skiing. The Ski and Board Show features Canada's largest annual ski show, sale, and swap. Sporting goods stores unload the previous year's inventory, and people consign their own skis to raise money for the Vancouver Ski Foundation's youth programs.

Around Halloween
Parade of Lost Souls, Grandview Park. A bizarre and intriguing procession takes place around Commercial Drive to honor the dead and chase away bad luck. F


November 11
Remembrance Day Celebrated throughout Canada, this day commemorates Canadian soldiers who gave their lives in war.

November and December
Christmas Craft and Gift Market, Van Dusen Botanical Garden. Popular craft and gift market in a beautiful garden setting.


Throughout December
Christmas Carol Ship Parade. Harbour cruise ships decorated with colorful Christmas lights sail around English Bay, while on-board guests sip cider and sing their way through the canon of Christmas carols.

Festival of Lights, Van Dusen Botanical Garden. Throughout December the garden is transformed into a magical holiday land with seasonal displays and over 20,000 lights illuminating the garden.

"Nature Comes to Light" - Numerous nature themed displays and 200,000 lights greet our guests as they take a 15 minute stroll along the board walk through the Richmond Nature Park. Presented by the Richmond Kinsmen and Richmond Firefighter’s Society.
Where: Richmond Nature Park, 11851 Westminster Hwy. at No. 5 Road (Richmond is a suburb of Vancouver)

December 31
First Night. The city's New Year's Eve performing arts festival and alcohol-free party. Vancouver closes the downtown streets for revelers. Admission to participating nightclubs and other sites is included in the cost of your ticket.


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