Like most Vancouverites, summer is my favourite season. When the sun shines on Vancouver, there's no prettier place on earth, and we make the most of our summer months--June, July and August--with tons of festivals, parties, outdoor adventures, and more.
For more summer events, see Free Things to Do in Vancouver for Summer 2014.
1. Canada Day
July 1 is always a huge party in the city, with free events popping up across Metro Vancouver. I love the patriotic flare of the celebrations at Granville Island--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!
2. Summer Festivals - International Jazz Festival & More
June - 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. These are some of my favourites, but there are lots more, so check the monthly event calendars for June, July and August.
3. The Beaches
4. Summer Night Markets
Asian-style night markets are a summer tradition in the Lower Mainland, and this year there are three night markets to visit. There's are two huge night markets in Richmond: the Richmond Night Market and the International Summer Night Market, plus the Shipyards Night Market in North Vancouver. (The Vancouver Chinatown Night Market is closed for 2014.) Both Richmond markets are must-sees; both feature over 300 vendors, amazing food (pork sui mai, Osaka balls, hurricane potatoes and sno-cones at the same time), live entertainment, and attract nightly crowds of thousands.
5. Celebration of Light - Vancouver's International Fireworks Competition
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 colour compositions, the annual event (late July - early August) has become one of the most prestigious fireworks competitions in the world.
6. 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 - mid-September) is a vacation destination unto itself! For me, just stepping through the gates feels like an escape. Summer wouldn't be summer without a swim in Kits Pool!
7. Bard 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. My favourite 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?
8. 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 27km of forest trails. The Stanley Park Gardens are also a summer must-see!
9. Vancouver Pride Parade & Festival
Rainbow-coloured balloon awnings, fabulous drag queens, leather daddies, "Dykes on Bikes": From the scantily-clad to the elaborately-head-dressed, Vancouver's Pride Parade (August 3, 2014) is a magnificent display of diversity, spirit, creativity, and unity, and one of Vancouver's biggest summer events. Of course, the Parade is just the climax to an entire week of celebration: Pride week is packed with parties, art shows, and more.
10. 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 (August 16 - September 1, 2014). Cotton candy, mini donuts, Playland rides, farm animals, and live performers like Superdogs and the nightly concert series make this end-of-summer extravaganza one of the best family events of the season.