free things to do in vancouver this summer

 

Between paying your exorbitant rent, bills and the occasional night on the town, you may find your wallet a little light this summer. That’s where the team at Vancity Buzz steps in.

We’ve carefully curated a list of fun, free activities for your enjoyment all through the summer. Behold, all the things you can do on the tightest of budgets:

“We’re All Pretty Bizarre” Art Exhibit

Screenshot/YouTube

Screenshot/YouTube

An art exhibit based on the many movies of John Hughes, “We’re All Pretty Bizarre” promises an ’80s and ’90s throwback in the form of portraits and weird art!

The gallery website says “in 1985, John Hughes directed Weird Science and The Breakfast Club. Considering he only directed 8 films, that made 1985 is pretty important year for him. He also wrote National Lampoon’s European Vacation that year! Thirty years later, his nearly 50 films are still an important part of western pop culture. Though not the first tribute to his work (and likely not the last), we’re pretty excited to host this John Hughes art show.”

  • Where: Hot Art, Wet City art gallery, 2206 Main Street, Vancouver
  • When: Thursday, June 4 to Saturday June 27. Gallery is open Wednesday to Saturday, noon to 5 p.m.
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: hotartwetcity.com

Vancouver International Jazz Festival

Jazz festival/Shutterstock

Jazz festival/Shutterstock

While not all of the events are free, a majority of them are, giving you access to some of the best jazz acts in the city! There are endless options for free performances, including Blue Moon Marquee, Rumba Cazalda, and Karin Plato Ensemble.

To scroll through the seemingly endless number of free performances, click here.

  • Where: Various locations. Visit the website for more information.
  • When: Thursday, June 18 to Wednesday July 1
  • Cost: FREE! (most of them, anyway – visit the website for more information)
  • Website: coastaljazz.ca

Dragon Boat Festival

Dragon Boat races/Shutterstock

Dragon Boat races/Shutterstock

The RioTinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival claims to be the biggest and best dragon boat festival in North America, attracting over 100,000 spectators and 200 boat teams from around the world.

  • Where: Creekside Community Centre, Village Plaza and the waters of False Creek.
  • When: June 19 to 21. For times and more details, click here.
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: dragonboatbc.ca

Car Free Days

This year marks the 11th year of Car Free Day!

Car Free Day celebrates the vibrancy of Vancouver’s diverse neighbourhoods by organizing a multi-site annual arts and culture festival that reclaims traffic thoroughfares as community-focused public spaces allowing residents, artists, performers, artisans, non-profits and businesses to interact, engage and re-imagine spaces normally reserved for vehicle traffic.

This year there are four locations: Kitsilano, Main Street, Commercial Drive and the West End.

  • Where: Various locations. Click here for more information.
  • When: Saturday, June 20 and Sunday, June 21
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: carfreevancouver.org

National Aboriginal Day Celebrations

Kris Krüg/Flickr

Kris Krüg/Flickr

This year, Canada Place is hosting National Aboriginal Day celebrations, which includes a traditional Coast Salish welcome, followed by a variety of Aboriginal dances and performances, and finishes with storytelling. There’s also an artisan marketplace and traditional carving.

Make Music Vancouver

Street performer/Shutterstock

Street performer/Shutterstock

This entirely free music event takes place on June 24. All of Water Street is shut down and transformed into a big stage and dance floor for various musical artists. This is the fourth year of the festival locally, but it’s an international event that’s been taking place all over the world for 33 years.

  • Where: Water Street, Gastown, Vancouver
  • When: Wednesday, June 24
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: makemusicvancouver.ca

Vancouver Buskerfest

The annual festival that takes place on Granville Street brings in diverse street performers from all over the world to entertain Vancouverites! From music to comedy, there’s no shortage of cool performances. On the event’s website, the organizers say “we started Buskerfest to bring the fun power and happiness of the international street performance world to beautiful Vancouver. Busker festivals bring people together to laugh cheer and smile. The experience is high-energy, high-impact and happy-making. It feels good. It looks good and it is good.”

  • Where: Granville Street between Dunsmuir and Nelson, downtown Vancouver
  • When: Friday, June 26 to Sunday, June 28
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: vancouverbuskerfest.com

Greek Day on Broadway

Greece/Shutterstock

Greece/Shutterstock

June is Greek Heritage Month, and to celebrate, a huge Greek festival spanning between Blenheim and MacDonald Streets on Broadway is coming June 28.

A day full of Greek food vendors, entertainers, dancing, and a market place, you’ll be immersed in the culture and values of Greece.

  • Where: Broadway, between Blenheim and MacDonald, Vancouver
  • When: Sunday, June 28
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: greekday.com

Canada Day at Canada Place

Canada Day Vancouver/Shutterstock

Canada Day Vancouver/Shutterstock

Every year, the Canada Day celebrations at Canada Place never fail to dazzle both locals and tourists alike! The free celebration is in its 28th year and full of activities for people of all ages. Expect live performances by Hannah Georgas, Hairfarmers, and Watasun, along with food stands and activity zones. The night is capped off with spectacular fireworks.

Canada Day on Granville Island

Granville Island/Shutterstock

Granville Island/Shutterstock

Canada Day on Granville Island is an all-ages event that goes from morning until late! This year, they’ll start with a pancake breakfast, then continue with jazz festivals, a street festival and a parade. The team at Granville Island encourages you to bring your kids!

  • Where: Granville Island, Vancouver
  • When: Wednesday, July 1, 10 a.m. to midnight
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: granvilleisland.com

Ballroom Dancing at Robson Square

Have you been meaning to take dance lessons but can’t seem to scrape up the cash? Well, with free ballroom dancing at Robson square, you’ll have no excuse.

Since 1991, DanceSport BC has put on a social ballroom dance event every Friday during the summer months. With more than 500 attendees a night, people of all ages gather for a fun-filled night of dancing. Whether you are a dance professional or have two left feet; on your 100th date or your first; with a group of old friends or getting to know a new city, these dances are for you.

Sunday Afternoon Salsa at Robson Square

Sunday Afternoon Salsa at Robson Square is a FREE community salsa dance event organized by Jennifer and Stephen Dancey of the Dancey Ballroom and SalsaVancouver.net.

The dances happen every Sunday in the summer months of July and August and are run by a team of volunteers from Vancouver’s salsa dance community.

Stanley Park Free Outdoor Movies

Image: Fresh Air Cinema

Image: Fresh Air Cinema

The Evo Summer Cinema Series at Stanley Park is back for another year from July 7 to August 25. Expect classics like Jurassic Park, The Breakfast Club and Harry Potter. Don’t forget to arrive early to get a good spot since upwards of 5,000 people attend each screening.

For a complete schedule, click here.

Khatsahlano Street Party

Image via www.Khatsahlano.com

Image via www.Khatsahlano.com

The Khatsahlano Street Party is Vancouver’s largest free music and art festival. Expect to see performances by more than 50 artists including The Belle Game, Yukon Blonde and The Courtneys on eight stages.

The 10-block street festival also features a wide variety of food options, bustling patios, giveaways, special activities, and new this year, licensed outdoor beer gardens!

  • Where: West 4th between Burrard and MacDonald
  • When: Saturday, July 11 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: khatsahlano.com

Carnaval del Sol

Photo: carnavaldelsol.ca

Photo: carnavaldelsol.ca

This Latin American style festival aims to bring a fiesta to Vancouver’s downtown core!

From the website: “Amid exciting music, food and cheers; for two days you will be immersed into numerous activities: outdoor salsa & zumba lessons, a mini world cup street soccer tournament, an arts and crafts market, an array of children activities, environmental education activities, and much more! This event will make all citizens and visitors experience the authentic Hispanic culture, food, arts and music!”

  • Where: Concord Pacific Place, Vancouver
  • When: Saturday, July 11, 10 a.m. to 10 p.m. and Sunday, July 12, 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: carnavaldelsol.ca

Caribbean Days Festival

Caribbean Days Festival/caribbeandays.ca

Caribbean Days Festival/caribbeandays.ca

Every July, the Trinidad and Tobago Cultural Society of BC hosts Caribbean Days Festival. It’s a weekend full of tropical rhythm, cuisine, carnival and culture as only the Caribbean can offer. Over the years, the Festival has grown into the largest Caribbean event on the local calendar, drawing tens of thousands of attendees.

  • Where: Waterfront Park, North Vancouver
  • When: Saturday, July 25 and Sunday, July 26
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: caribbeandays.ca

Honda Celebration of Light

Celebration of Light/Shutterstock

Celebration of Light/Shutterstock

The fireworks competition spectacular is coming back, and they’re celebrating their 25th year in Vancouver!

Every year, hundreds of thousands of people flood English Bay to watch different countries compete using fire in the sky. Competitors this year are China, Brazil and, of course, Canada. It kicks off with China on July 25 – and don’t forget to arrive early and secure a prime spot on the beach!

  • Where: English Bay, Vancouver (but accessible from multiple beaches – see website for more details)
  • When: Saturday, July 25, Wednesday July 29 and Saturday, August 1
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: hondacelebrationoflight.com

Harmony Arts Festival

Photo: Harmony Arts Festival

Photo: Harmony Arts Festival

This year marks the 25th anniversary of the performing and visual arts festival in West Vancouver. The 10-day festival attracts over 130,000 people and strong sponsorship support, artist participation and volunteers have helped to build and define the Harmony Arts Festival, according to the festival website. You can expect 70 free concerts this year from some of Canada’s most memorable artists.

  • Where: John Lawson Park, West Vancouver
  • When: Friday, July 31 to Sunday, August 9
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: harmonyarts.ca

Vancouver Street Dance Festival

Street Dance Festival/Shutterstock

Street Dance Festival/Shutterstock

The free dance event takes place at Robson Square (our city’s apparent dance mecca), where people get together for workshops, dance battles and live music performances.

From the website: “The Vancouver Street Dance Festival (VSDF) represents our vision of the ideal Vancouver summer – a great day at a free festival that caters to all stripes of dance and music lovers in the city.”

  • Where: Robson Square, Vancouver
  • When: Friday, July 31 to Sunday, August 2
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: vanstreetdancefest.com

Powell Street Festival

via www.powellstreetfestival.com

via www.powellstreetfestival.com

This yearly festival is a celebration of all things Japanese-Canadian. According to their website, their annual programming includes “collaborative and/or intercultural explorations between Japanese Canadian and Asian Canadian artists”. Events usually include performances, art and food booths.

Vancouver Pride Parade

Vancouver Pride/Shutterstock

Vancouver Pride/Shutterstock

The 37th annual Pride Parade is just around the corner!

From the event’s website:

“Join us for one of the most beautiful and diverse parades in the world. The Vancouver Pride Parade was granted civic status in 2013 and is one of the city’s flagship events!

Attracting crowds of more than 650,000, the Pride Parade is renowned on the international stage as one of the largest and most successful LGBTQ2+ events in the world.”

  • Where: English Bay, Vancouver. For a map of the parade route, click here.
  • When: Sunday, August 2, noon to 3 p.m.
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: vancouverpride.ca

Free admission day at the PNE

Photo: Mark Faviell/Flickr

Photo: Mark Faviell/Flickr

If you grew up in Vancouver, chances are your memories include cotton candy and roller coasters at the PNE. Well, relive your childhood for FREE this summer on August 25, when gate admission is nixed for a couple of hours. It’s first come, first serve, so get there early to save your precious pennies!

  • Where: 2901 East Hastings Street, Vancouver
  • When: Tuesday, August 25, 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: pne.ca

Vancouver Farmer’s Markets

Farmer's Market/Shutterstock

Farmer’s Market/Shutterstock

Heading into their 20th year, Vancouver Farmer’s Markets are free to enter. If you need to kill an afternoon, what better way to do it than by browsing fresh, local produce, seafood, pies, wines, spirits and even pottery and crafts. You might be tempted to dig through your loose change to buy some ripe summer fruit.

  • Where: Various locations. Click here for a list of markets.
  • When: Days and times depend on location. Click the link above for more information.
  • Cost: FREE! (Unless you buy something – but that’s up to you!)
  • Website: eatlocal.org

Free Yoga at Dude Chilling Park

Park Yoga/Shutterstock

Park Yoga/Shutterstock

Run by several yoga instructors, free yoga at Dude Chilling Park happens every day during the summer until the weather turns. On the Facebook page, they encourage people to bring their own water, yoga mats, towels, blankets, “props”, and of course, yourself! The best part? It’s not on a bridge.

  • Where: 2390 Brunswick Street, Vancouver
  • When: Every day while the weather is nice! 10 a.m. and 6 p.m.
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Facebook page: facebook.com/dudechillingyoga

Tuesdays at the Vancouver Art Gallery

Vancouver Art Gallery/Shutterstock

Vancouver Art Gallery/Shutterstock

Every Tuesday at the Vancouver Art Gallery is by donation – the folks at the gallery urge you to pay whatever you can afford, but if you’re super strapped for cash and looking for something to do, you’re not obligated to pay.

The current exhibit is “Of Heaven and Earth:500 years of Italian painting from Glasgow Museums.”

  • Where: 750 Hornby Street, Downtown Vancouver
  • When: Every Tuesday from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Cost: By donation
  • Website: vanartgallery.bc.ca

Free Night Markets in Vancouver

Image: Flickr

Image: Flickr

While the famous Richmond Night Market does have an entrance fee, there are many night markets in the metro area that are free to enter! We can’t be blamed if you end up buying some delicious treats, though.

For a comprehensive list of night markets in Vancouver (including the free ones), click here.

Gordon McMillan Southam Observatory

Image: Flickr

Image: Flickr

Bring out your inner astronomy nerd with a visit to the Gordon McMillan Southam observatory! Located next to the Space Centre, featuring a 1/2 metre Cassegrain telescope to explore the stars around Vancouver.

  • Where: 1100 Chestnut Street, Vancouver
  • When: Saturdays, 8 p.m. to midnight
  • Cost: By donation
  • Website: spacecentre.ca

 Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge/Shutterstock

Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge/Shutterstock

Lynn Canyon Park features 617 acres of untouched, natural beauty. The suspension bridge is a great alternative to the Capilano Suspension Bridge, since it won’t cost you an arm and a leg.

From the website: “Lynn Canyon Park features a suspension bridge that sways 50 meters above the canyon. It was built privately in 1912 when the park opened. Lynn Canyon also offers a selection of walking and hiking trails that connect to other parks in the region such as Lynn Headwaters, Rice Lake, and Inter River Park.”

  • Where: 3663 Park Road, North Vancouver
  • When: Daily, 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Cost: FREE!
  • Website: dnv.org/ecology

The Grouse Grind

Grouse Grind / Shutterstock

Grouse Grind / Shutterstock

For nature and fitness buffs, The Grouse Grind is a mainstay in free things to do in Vancouver (weather permitting, of course). The 2.9 kilometre trail is, at points, a straight incline and can challenge even veteran hikers. Come prepared with water, good shoes, appropriate clothing, snacks, and friends who can share in the challenge!

Frisbee Golf

Frisbee Golf/Shutterstock

Frisbee Golf/Shutterstock

Disc golf, or frisbee golf, is a game where players throw their disc at a specific target. The purpose of the game is to complete the course with the fewest number of throws of the disc as possible. The game is free, but discs can be either rented or brought to the course.

  • Where: 4600 Cambie Street, Vancouver
  • When: Open daily.
  • Cost: FREE! (frisbee rentals not included, so find a friend who has some!)
  • Website: dgcoursereview.com
Read full post
Categories
The data relating to real estate on this website comes in part from the MLS® Reciprocity program of either the Real Estate Board of Greater Vancouver (REBGV), the Fraser Valley Real Estate Board (FVREB) or the Chilliwack and District Real Estate Board (CADREB). Real estate listings held by participating real estate firms are marked with the MLS® logo and detailed information about the listing includes the name of the listing agent. This representation is based in whole or part on data generated by either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB which assumes no responsibility for its accuracy. The materials contained on this page may not be reproduced without the express written consent of either the REBGV, the FVREB or the CADREB.