Summer is most Vancouverites’ favorite season. When the sun shines on Vancouver, there’s no prettier place on earth, and locals make the most of the summer months—June, July, and August—with tons of festivals, parties, outdoor adventures, and more.
Celebrate Canada Day
Canada Day, celebrated on July 1, is always a massive party in the city, with free events popping up across Metro Vancouver. The patriotic flair of the celebrations at Granville Island are incredibly festive (who doesn’t love the Truly Canadian Pancake Breakfast?), plus all the street festivals, parades, and fireworks. There’s also Surrey’s Canada Day outdoor concerts—the biggest Canada Day celebration in all of western Canada.
Attend a Unique Summer Festival
June through August in Vancouver is the season for festivals, and some of the year’s biggest and best music and multicultural events happen at this time of year. Vancouver’s International Jazz Festival is held each year at the end of June, while the Vancouver Folk Music Festival typically takes place each July.
Hit the Beach
Eat at a Summer Night Market
Asian-style night markets are a summer tradition in the Lower Mainland. There are two great night markets to visit: the Richmond Night Market and the Shipyards Night Market in North Vancouver. The Richmond market is a must-see; it features over 300 vendors, fantastic food (pork shumai, Osaka balls, hurricane potatoes, and snow-cones, at the same time) and live entertainment, that attracts nightly crowds of thousands.
Watch an Incredible Fireworks Display
If there is one event that defines summer in Vancouver, it’s the Celebration of Light international fireworks competition: three nights of the best fireworks displays you’ve ever seen. Lighting up the sky over English Bay in incredible color compositions, the annual event, typically help late July through early August, has become one of the most prestigious fireworks competitions in the world.
Go Swimming in Kits Pool
With its white bottom and turquoise water and its spectacular views—of the ocean, the mountains, Kits Beach, and the Vancouver skyline glittering across English Bay—Kits Pool, open mid-May through mid-September, is a vacation destination unto itself. Just stepping through the gates feels like an escape and many Vancouverites will tell you that summer wouldn’t be summer without a swim in this pool!
Watch a Play on the Beach
With the gorgeous summer weather comes lots of outdoor theatre and concerts: There’s the Theatre Under the Stars in Stanley Park and the Enchanted Evenings Concert Series at Dr. Sun Yat Sen Chinese Garden. Among the best, however, is the Shakespeare festival Bard on Beach, which stages plays in open-backed tents in Vanier Park. The northern mountains and glory of English Bay become the plays’ backdrop. What could be more dramatic than that?
Hike at Stanley Park
Stanley Park may be a tourist destination—it attracts 8 million visitors a year—but it’s also cherished by locals, especially in the summer months. When the sun shines, there’s nothing better than biking or walking the scenic Seawall or hiking the 16 miles of forest trails. The Stanley Park Gardens are also a summer must-see!
Ring in Summer at the Fair at the PNE
If there’s one summer tradition that can bring out the kid in anyone, it’s the annual Fair at the PNE. Cotton candy, mini donuts, Playland rides, farm animals, live performers like Superdogs, and the nightly concert series make this end-of-summer extravaganza one of the best family events of the season.
Pick Berries at Krause Berry Farms
Take a quick trip to Langley where you can spend an entire day picking blackberries, blueberries, or strawberries at the 200-acre Krause Berry Farm. Even if picking berries yourself isn’t your thing, the family-run farm has tons of fresh fruit for sale, as well as pies, jams, jellies, and more. It’s a great outing for little ones, who can take tractor train rides or simply enjoy spending time outside.
Take a Day Trip to a Hot Spring
British Columbia is home to a vast array of hot springs, which can make for the perfect summer day or weekend trip from Vancouver. Halcyon Hot Springs, in Nakusp, is among the most popular, featuring breath-taking views and mineral-rich waters that are supposedly healing. There are also chalet-style homes that you can rent.
Do a Beer Crawl Down Brewer’s Row
If you love beer, get thee to Brewer’s Row, a tiny Vancouver street filled with local breweries. Murray Street, right across from Vancouver’s Rocky Point Park, has four small breweries that are open to visitors for tastings and tours, making it a great way to spend the afternoon. Start your day at Yellow Dog, before moving on to Moody Ales, Twin Sails, and Murray Street’s newest addition Parkside Brewing.
Shop at Vancouver’s Eastside Flea
This modern flea market features more than 50 vendors selling vintage clothing, collectibles, plants, and artisanal food. If shopping isn’t your thing, the flea’s organizers also invite food trucks and local DJs to turn the event into a veritable party. The flea typically takes place every weekend and moved to Eastside Studios in fall 2018.
Watch a Movie Alfresco in Stanley Park
For more than a decade, Stanley Park has hosted its Summer Cinema series on Tuesday nights. Movies start right after sunset and mostly include family favorites like Mean Girls, The Lion King, and Grease. Admission is free, but you’ll want to bring a lawn chair or picnic blanket.
Join in on a Massive Water Fight
A newer event on Vancouver’s summer calendar, the massive Vancouver Water Fight has already become tremendously popular. Held in mid-August, the great water war takes place at the Lumberman’s Arch at Stanley Park. Bring your bathing suits, water guns, and water balloons.
Go Kayaking at Deep Cove
If you want to spend a day outside, head to Deep Cove, a seaside village on the Eastern edge of Vancouver. The cove has great hikes and is a tranquil spot to go kayaking. The Deep Cove Kayak Centre will rent out kayaks, paddleboards, and canoes, and also offers lessons.
Listen to Classical Music in the Park
The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performs a free outdoor concert each year at Deer Lake Park. The lineup typically includes classics from Tchaikovsky and other renowned composers as well as contemporary favorites, like the score from Star Wars.