I think we can all agree that summertime in and around Vancouver is fantastic. Take the natural beauty that surrounds us, add some sunshine, and there’s nothing better.
How are you planning to make the most of the warmer summer months this year?
If you’re sticking around town, there is no shortage of local events and activities you can enjoy that don’t cost a fortune.
Here are some ideas for free and cheap things you can do in and around Vancouver this summer.
Watch a movie outside
Who wants to be stuck in a theatre on a beautiful BC evening when you can take in a movie outside under the stars? There are lots of free outdoor screenings in Metro Vancouver and perhaps best of all you can skip that $10 bag of popcorn and bring your own snacks instead.
Check out this calendar for a full listing of free outdoor movies by date or by location. Some of the regular outdoor movie series include:
- Evo Summer Cinema (Vancouver)
- Summer Movie Nights (Vancouver)
- Starlight Theatre at Lansdowne Centre (Richmond)
- New Westminster Outdoor Movie Series
- White Rock Movie Nights
Light up the night
What’s better than sitting on a beach and taking in an international fireworks competition for free? The Celebration of Light is happening on Saturday, July 27, Wednesday, July 31 and Saturday, August 3 this year. While you can buy tickets for some venues, you’re better off to grab a free spot in the sand with a view of English Bay (or try out another viewing location). Bring your own picnic (perhaps the cuisine of the host country) and enjoy this amazing light show.
Another option is to attend the magical Illuminares Lantern Festival at Trout Lake in John Hendry Park on Saturday, July 27. This free event is a mixture of activities and entertainment like the lantern parade, fire-breather shows and live musical performances. The lantern parade starts at dusk and lasts until 10:30 pm.
Connect with community
There are lots of free community events happening over the summer – you can find some great ones on Vancity’s event calendar. Here are a few to check out:
- July 6, 2019 – Khatsahlano Street Party: Vancouver’s largest free music and arts festival.
- July 6 to 7, 2019 – Carnaval de Sol: The biggest Latin festival in the Pacific Northwest.
- July 7, 2019 – Car Free Day Commercial Drive: Festival featuring local artisans, musicians, community activities, food, entertainment and activities for all ages.
- July 27 to 28, 2019 – Caribbean Days: A weekend of parading, dining, socializing and dancing in the sunshine in North Vancouver.
- August 3 to 4, 2019 – Powell Street Festival: Celebrating Japanese Canadian arts and culture with live performances, food and exhibits.
- August 4, 2019 – Vancouver Pride Parade: Annual LGBTQ+ Pride event, the largest parade of any kind in Western Canada.
Shake your groove thing
Whether you have two left feet or not, you can dance for free at Sunday Afternoon Salsa at Robson Square. The event even includes a free Salsa dance lesson. Running July 7 to August 25, 2019, the free lesson starts at 3 pm, followed by social dancing at 3:30 pm, performances at 5 pm and more social dancing at 5:30 pm.
You can also watch a number of diverse dance performances at All Over the Map, a free event happening at the Picnic Pavilion on Granville Island on Canada Day.
There are plenty of museums and galleries around town to keep your mind stimulated. The Vancouver Art Gallery makes some top-notch art exhibits accessible by offering admission by donation on Tuesday evenings from 5 to 9 pm, while Burnaby Village Museum, a reconstructed 1920s village, offers free admission year-round.
There are also some admission discounts available to Vancity members: 2 for 1 admission to the Bill Reid Gallery of Northwest Coast Art and 50% off admission to the Museum of Vancouver.
There’s plenty of other free art available through smaller galleries throughout the Lower Mainland. Many have frequent art exhibit openings – usually free, and often accompanied by some munchies and even the occasional glass of wine. Check out these listings to see what’s coming up.
Listen to the music
While events such as the Vancouver Jazz Festival (June 21 to July 1, 2019) charge for some of their concerts, they also offer many shows for free. If you’re looking to participate in the full event, consider volunteering. For example, volunteering for the Vancouver Folk Festival (July 19 to 21, 2019) comes with a free pass when you volunteer for a set number of hours.
Another option: Live & Local offers 32 free cultural experiences in North Vancouver this summer, including a free Friday concert series.
Have fun at the fair
What better way to wind down summer than to enjoy rides, shows, exhibits and free headlining concerts? This year the Fair at the PNE runs from Saturday, August 17 to Monday, September 2 (closed Mondays).
Even better, if you are a Vancity member you can get into the fair for an $8 admission (a $10 discount), simply by presenting your Vancity MEMBER CARD® or enviro™ Visa card, and a piece of ID at the PNE gate between 11 am and 1 pm on Saturdays, Sundays, and Labour Day Monday. Don’t forget to check out these ways to save money at the PNE.
Two other fairs you can check out in the Fraser Valley are:
- Maple Ridge – Pitt Meadows Country Fest, July 27-28, 2019 (free admission)
- Langley Country Celebration – September 7 to 8, 2019 (admission $3 per adult, $1 per child/adult 65+).
While we can only wish that summer was endless, the list of free events, activities and festivities comes close!