Is Vancouver Really Boring? Greater Vancouver’s Best Summer Festivals and Events

June 14, 2015 0 Comments


On a summer day in Vancouver, two bikers pass Beaver Lake in Stanley Park and head for the Seawall.

On a summer day in Vancouver, two bikers pass Beaver Lake in Stanley Park and head for the Seawall.

Full disclosure: This is a paid blogpost for the #HipmunkCityLove project. As a part of the project, I will be creating content about London, Edinburgh, and Vancouver. Opinions are my own. 

Blog Post Type: Summary of a City Guide

In a recent article, The Economist called Vancouver “boring”, renewing an old debate surrounding this city, reputed as the world’s most livable but also “no fun”.

Having lived here for over a decade, I would concede the area is no booming metropolis like London or Beijing. But Vancouverites do know how to have fun, and summer days in the city have their own appeal, with night markets, live theatre, fireworks, and the PNE.

International Summer Night Market

The International Summer Night Market near Bridgeport Station is an attraction I try to visit every summer. Food and retail vendors change from year to year, and prices aren’t as cheap as in Asia, but generally you can find cute Hello Kitty stationary, phone accessories, kitchen utensils, and street fashion. The Rotato, deep fried potato chips on a stick, is crunchy, savory, and delicious. Other popular food choices include bubble waffles, egg puffs, dim sum, dragon’s beard candy, or if you’re feeling adventurous, BBQ squid.

When: Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays, May 8 to September 27

Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival

I first visited Bard on the Beach years ago with my English 11 Advance Placement class to see a live performance of Othello. It was the first time I saw Shakespeare performed outside of school, and I was awed by the professional acting, sword fights, and props. I went back later to see an adaptation of Hamlet, where the present-day setting, television, and cellphones added another layer to the classic play. The best seats sell out very quickly, so try to book tickets early.

When: June 4 to September 26

Ships to Shore Steveston

Ships such as the Adventuress, Virginia V, Spike Africa, and CCGH Siyay will dock at the Richmond port of Steveston this year for the annual festival, where you can tour visiting boats and tall ships. I visited two years ago as a member of the press to learn about the area’s coastal history, which later resulted in my discovery of and article about the historic village of Finn Slough.

When: June 29 to July 1

Honda Celebration of Light

Run by the Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society, the Celebration of Light is turning 25 this year, with Team China, Brazil, and Canada competing. Nearly 400,000 people flocked to English Bay for the previous firework displays.

When: July 25 (China), July 29 (Brazil), August 1 (Canada)

Pacific National Exhibit

The PNE, which runs in the weeks leading up to Labor Day and the first day of the school, has always been associated with the end of the summer. It combines exhibits with rides, snacks, games, and performances; my favorite snacks are the mini-donuts, while the magic performances and dog shows are also entertaining. Thrill seekers would enjoy a ride up the Atmosfear, Drop Zone, or Hellevator.

When: August 22 to September 7

Where to Stay

I recommend choosing hotels in Vancouver close to downtown for sightseeing or near the airport in Richmond for a short stay.