Free and cheap things to do in Metro Vancouver this summer


Last updated on May 10, 2024

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 Summer Movie Nights in Vancouver and if you’re in Victoria, you don’t want to miss the Free-B Film Festival.

Free and cheap things to do in Metro Vancouver this summer

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 20, Wednesday, July 24 and Saturday, Julu 27 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.

Connect with community

There are lots of free community events happening over the summer – here are a few to check out:

  • July 1, 2024Steveston Salmon Festival: Enjoy the day-long program which will feature live music, exhibitions, demonstrations, hands-on activities, and the return of the popular Canada Day parade.
  • July 6, 2024 – Khatsahlano Street Party: Vancouver’s largest free music and arts festival.
  • July 6 to 7, 2024 – Carnaval de Sol: The biggest Latin festival in the Pacific Northwest.
  • September 8, 2024 – Car Free Day Commercial Drive: Festival featuring local artisans, musicians, community activities, food, entertainment and activities for all ages.
  • September 15, 2024Car Free Day Main Street.
  • July 27 to 28, 2024Caribbean Days Festival: A weekend of parading, dining, socializing and dancing in the sunshine in Coquitlam.
  • August 3 to 4, 2024 – Powell Street Festival: Celebrating Japanese Canadian arts and culture with live performances, food and exhibits.
  • July 25 to August 4, 2024 – Vancouver Pride Parade: Annual LGBTQAI Pride event, the largest parade of any kind in Western Canada.
  • May 10 to September 13, 2024Shipyards Night Market: Shipyards Night Market will once again feature live music on The Stage at Shipbuilders Square, the Patio pop-up beverage garden, food trucks, and a splash park for kids of all ages every Friday.
Free and cheap things to do in Metro Vancouver this summer

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 14, 21, 28 and August 11 and 18, 2024, 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.

Get cultured

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.

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 June 30, 2024) 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, 2024) comes with a free pass when you volunteer for a set number of hours.

While we can only wish that summer was endless, the list of free events, activities and festivities comes close!

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