Some people dislike spending their summer in the city, but as for Vancouver, there’s no better season to enjoy everything the city has to offer. If you get bored with the city’s well-loved but perhaps too familiar leisure opportunities, check out our list to find out what’s happening in the streets. Whether you're looking for good theatre and arts, musical festivals, or unusual summer markets, you certainly won’t be disappointed. Just have a look!
Bard on the Beach (June 12 to September 14)
We listed Bard on the Beach last month, but it would be a pity not to mention it again. The popular Shakespeare festival takes place in tents on the beautiful Vanier Park waterfront, overlooked by the mountains, which makes a perfect setting for warm summer nights. Visitors can choose from three of Shakespeare’s plays: Twelfth Night, Hamlet, or Measure for Measure. Elizabeth Rex by Timothy Findley also made it to the program, alongside the classical gems by the master of theatre. You can buy tickets for the performances from $25.
Kitsilano Showboat Festival of Live Performing Arts & Theatre (June 24 to August 17)
The Kitsilano Showboat Festival has been brightening up summers in Vancouver for 78 years, and it's not ready to quit any time soon. The free performing arts theatre with live shows continues to entertain residents of Kitsilano every Monday, Wednesday, Friday, and Saturday all summer long. The performers include children’s dance schools from the area and the Kitsilano Boys' Band Reunion, plus many other local artists. All shows start at 7:00 P.M. at 2300 Cornwall Avenue.
Carnaval del Sol 2013 (July 6)
Spend the first Saturday of July dancing on the street and experiencing the true Latin American fiesta. Granville Street will turn into a huge party, as the festival brings food, music, and loads of fun straight to the core of the city. Carnival-goers can look forward to joining outdoor salsa and zumba lessons, showing off their sport skills at a mini World Cup street soccer tournament, or wandering around an arts and crafts market, showcasing the best pieces from Latin American artists and artisans. And the best thing about the festival is that it’s free for everyone who wishes to celebrate the fiesta with our Latin American community.
The Shipyards Night Market (July 4 to August 2)
Entering its third year, the Shipyards Night Market takes place every Thursday and Friday from 5:00 P.M. to 10:00 P.M. at Lonsdale Quay. Don’t miss a chance to spend charming summer evenings outdoors with good music, food, and festivities. Live music featuring talent from around British Columbia plays until 10:00 P.M. every day of the market, and visitors can enjoy roaming through more than 50 tents showcasing the best artisan works, delicious organic food and sweets, clothing, jewellery, and much more. Plus, all the hungry and thirsty guests can check out over 15 food trucks on site.
EPIC: The Sustainable Living Festival (July 6 to 7)
VanDusen Botanical Garden hosts EPIC — Western Canada’s biggest sustainable living festival for all eco-conscious people. For the first time, the comprehensive lifestyle event moves outdoors to celebrate sustainability, green culture, and community life right in the middle of a beautiful botanical garden. The program features live entertainment, including music and singing, lectures, and fun activities for kids. Our bellies will be treated to dozens of onsite food trucks, including delicious eats by Green Table restaurants as well as several wine and beer vendors. Visitors can also look forward to shopping in a huge sustainable living marketplace.
Maple Ridge Caribbean and Music Festival (July 13 to 14)
The Maple Ridge Caribbean and Music Festival celebrates its 13th season this year, and the organizers promise to deliver the best and biggest festival so far. The festival prides itself on being a colourful, family-friendly event in the park, with music, dancing, and excellent food and drinks, presenting the best of the best from the Caribbean. Fun games and activities for kids will be ready onsite as well as a special Thrifty Foods Kids Zone. The musical styles represented at the festival include ska, salsa, Calypso, and reggae. The event is free.
Seventh Annual BC Renaissance Festival (July 18 to 21)
If you feel like listening to Frog and Fiddle tunes in an authentic setting, make sure to visit Pacific Country Stables and get carried away straight to 16th century Europe. The seventh annual BC Renaissance Festival with its usual cast of characters and medieval marketplace welcomes all history lovers. The festival program includes games, rides, typical renaissance food, and much more, providing fun for the whole family. There will be stage shows, theatre plays, fencing reenactments, and many people in costumes. Tickets cost $20 for adults, $17 for youth, and $10 for kids and seniors.
Vancouver Folk Festival (July 19 to 21)
The Vancouver Folk Festival enters its 35th year and still continues to follow its mission of promoting the best folk music to audiences in Canada. The event takes place at Jericho Beach rain or shine, so be prepared for all weather. Artists who will perform at the festival include The Cat Empire, who will play songs from their latest release, Steal the Light, Nomadic Massive, a unique group mixing folk and rap traditions and singing in five languages, Hurray for the Riff Raff, an up-and-coming star from the Bronx, and Grammy-winning stars Natalie Maines and Steve Earle & the Dukes. Ticket prices vary, so check the website for more detailed information, but the basic weekend pass is $150 at the moment. All true folk lovers are also encouraged to help the festival and become volunteers.
Queer Arts Festival: Transgressionnow (July 24 to August 9)
For three weeks, the Roundhouse Community Centre will host the Queer Arts Festival, celebrating queer art and culture. This multidisciplinary arts festival attracts professionals and visitors interested in a curated visual arts exhibition, innovative live performances, and many intriguing workshops led by skilled trainers and artists. Highlights of the festival include Canada’s first original lesbian opera, When the Sun Comes Out by Leslie Uyeda and Rachel Rose, stunning dance performances by George Stamos from Montreal, and Native indie music pioneers Kinnie Starr and Cris Derksen. Tickets for most shows cost $20 in advance, and prices at the door vary.
Gipsy Kings concert (July 26)
The Gipsy Kings return to Vancouver to deliver yet another of their energetic shows. The group of musicians from the south of France play their particular rumba flamenco style with strong Roma influence and have become famous for hits such as "Bamboleo," "Un Amor", and "Volare." At the upcoming July concert, they will perform a mix of their older hits and newer songs from their latest release, Pasajero. The concert takes place in the Centre in Vancouver for Performing Arts and the doors open at 8:00 P.M. Ticket prices range from $70 to $135.