Polar Bear Swim
Since 1920, plucky members of the Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club have taken to the icy waters of English Bay each year on New Year’s Day. The initial dip may have only attracted around 10 swimmers, but today’s event sees over 2,000 hardy souls plunge into the bracing sea, many wearing weird and wacky fancy-dress costumes. Register beforehand in front of the English Bay Bathhouse.Date: 01 January 2019 - 01 January 2019
Venue: English Bay.
Dine Out Vancouver Festival
Vancouver’s cosmopolitan population is matched by its diverse dining scene and this festival gives foodies a chance to try some of the city’s finest gastronomic delights. Over 230 restaurants offer three- (or more) course set-price menus. It’s also a chance to sample gourmet experiences not normally available at other times of the year such as culinary and cocktail tours, cooking classes, street markets, and BC beer and wine tastings.Date: 18 January 2019 - 03 February 2019
Venue: Various restaurants.
20 CAD, 30 CAD or 40 CAD for a meal.
Chinese New Year Parade
Chinatown’s kaleidoscopic celebration marks the beginning of the Chinese New Year and runs along Pender Street from the Millennium Gate, turning at Gore Street and looping back along Keefer Street. Colourful dance troupes, marching bands, lion dances and martial arts are all part of the festivities, drawing around 50,000 spectators. On the same weekend, a two-day cultural fair is held at Sun Yat-Sen Plaza on Pender Street.Date: 10 February 2019 - 10 February 2019
Vancouver International Marathon
Vancouver's city marathon follows a scenic route from Queen Elizabeth Park, through Pacific Spirit Park and the UBC campus, along the shore of Kitsilano, before crossing into Downtown through the West End, round the Stanley Park seawall and finishing off in Coal Harbour. There’s also a half marathon, 8km race and a kids’ fun run. The Health, Sports & Lifestyle Expo takes place over the same weekend.Date: 05 May 2019 - 05 May 2019
Venue: City streets and seawall.
Free to spectate.
Vancouver International Children's Festival
Crammed with music, theatre, dance, storytelling, puppetry, circus arts and much more, the Vancouver International Children's Festival embodies the buoyant spirit and endless curiosity of children all over the world. First held in 1978 for the young people of Vancouver and the surrounding area, the festival has since grown in popularity. It offers a packed programme of acclaimed Canadian and international professional performers as well as numerous hands-on arts activities ranging from painting and pottery classes to circus training and stilt walking. Each year the festival welcomes more than 50,000 children, parents and educators to Vancouver's waterfront Vanier Park, providing them with a valuable cultural and educational experience.Date: 27 May 2019 - 02 June 2019
Venue: Granville Island.
C$5-C$12.50 for children; C$22 for adults.
Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival
In tented pavilions at an evocative waterfront venue, Bard on the Beach Shakespeare Festival is a season of four professionally produced Shakespeare plays performed against a spectacular backdrop of mountains, sea and sky. Throughout the summer, two different plays are presented at each of the 742-seat Mainstage and the 240-seat Studio Stage. This is one of Canada's largest professional Shakespeare Festivals and offers a unique theatre experience.Date: 05 June 2019 - 21 September 2019
Venue: Vanier Park.
Vancouver International Jazz Festival
A dynamic programme of over 300 concerts treats audiences to a thrilling mix of jazz genres in this big hitter on Vancouver’s summer calendar. Organised by the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society, the festival draws up to 500,000 concert-goers. Festivities kick off with the Downtown Jazz Opening Weekend, showcase both international and local artists, and wrap up with a weekend of free performances in David Lam Park.Date: 21 June 2019 - 01 July 2019
Venue: Various venues.
Varies according to each concert; around half the events are free.
Canada Day Celebrations
Fiercely proud Canadians take to the streets for the annual Canada Day festivities, dressing in red and white and painting their faces with maple leaves to celebrate the country’s birthday. Vancouver’s main celebrations include a parade, kids’ activities, a citizenship ceremony, and live music performances throughout the day. The culmination of the day’s events is a dazzling fireworks display in Burrard Inlet.Date: 01 July 2019 - 01 July 2019
Venue: Canada Place.
Celebration of Light
Vancouver’s biggest event sees three countries compete over three evenings in the world’s largest offshore fireworks competition. Up to 400,000 spectators pack the shores of English Bay each night along with over 1,000 boats on the water to watch a glittering display of pyrotechnics. Before the fireworks, SHOREfest hosts free concerts in English Bay and Sunset Beach.Date: 27 July 2019 - 03 August 2019
Venue: English Bay.
Free to watch from the beach; charge for bleacher seating.
Vancouver Pride Parade and Festival
Attracting a massive 650,000 spectators, Vancouver Pride is a world-renowned celebration of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender community. Beginning at Robson and Thurlow Streets, diverse and dazzling floats travel through the heart of Vancouver’s gay neighbourhood along Denman Street, Pacific Street and Beach Avenue. The parade finishes off with a raucous festival at Sunset Beach featuring live music and a local market.Date: 04 August 2019 - 04 August 2019
Venue: West End.
Vancouver International Fringe Festival
A late-summer favourite, this diverse festival features over 800 theatrical performances by around 100 artists. Most of BC’s largest theatre festival takes place on Granville Island, but a few performers produce BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) events at various locations throughout the city, which in the past have included a boat, a tree, a fire escape and the back of a bicycle. Shows are chosen by lottery, ensuring a truly eclectic mix of theatre.Date: 05 September 2019 - 15 September 2019
Venue: Various venues on and around Granville Island.
Vancouver International Film Festival
This highly acclaimed cinematic celebration is one of the biggest film festivals on the continent and showcases the best of world cinema. Fans are treated to hundreds of movies from around 80 countries in a carefully planned programme which usually includes multiple Canadian and world premieres. There’s a particular focus on Canadian film as well as the largest selection of East Asian films outside the region.Date: 26 September 2019 - 11 October 2019
Venue: Various cinemas.
Vancouver Writers Fest
A celebration of story, this literary festival brings together authors, poets, graphic novelists and spoken word performers from across the globe in a lively programme of panel discussions, readings and interviews. The aim is to ‘ignite a passion for books and ideas’. Bestselling authors Margaret Attwood, Martin Amis, JK Rowling, Salman Rushdie and John Irving are just a few of the impressive list of former guests.Date: 21 October 2019 - 27 October 2019
Venue: Granville Island.
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