10 Free Events and Festivals

These free, annual events in Vancouver will give you plenty of ways to experience the city — without breaking your vacation budget.


Celebrate Celtic heritage with eight days of cultural events, such as live concerts, Irish storytelling, Scottish dancing and authentic bagpipe performances. Don’t forget to put on some green when you head to the St. Patrick’s Day Parade, an annual spectacle that draws more than 200,000 people.


Rio Tinto Alcan Dragon Boat Festival
Join more than 100,000 people at this visually stunning event, which features cultural music, globally- inspired dance performances, international cuisine, artisan crafts and the famous dragon boat races, which takes place on Vancouver’s False Creek.

Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Sure, you’ll get your fair share of jazz at this annual festival, but music lovers also can watch funk, electronica, Latin and blues musicians from all over the world. Out of several hundred concerts, more than 150 of them are free, and they take place at various music venues and public stages around Vancouver.

Canada Day
Celebrate our country’s heritage on Canada Day on July 1st! Downtown’s Canada Place is a focal-point for community celebrations, with a schedule packed with art exhibitions, circus performances, live concerts, a multicultural parade and a breathtaking fireworks display over the Burrard Inlet.

Vancouver Pride Parade & Festival
Bring your most colourful costume and get ready for a weekend of parties, parades and gay pride. The Vancouver Pride Parade & Festival draws more than half a million participants and spectators, and it includes street parties, movies, family-friendly events and one of the largest gay pride parades in North America.

Celebration of Light
Pack a picnic, and head to the beaches for a free fireworks spectacular. The Celebration of Light is an international competition of pyrotechnics, which takes place over the course of three nights in late July and early August. Expect to see thousands of fireworks launched off the barge in English Bay for each show, and make sure to secure your viewing spot early, before the crowds arrive.

Powell Street Festival
At the Powell Street Festival, you can celebrate Japanese-Canadian arts and culture, while experiencing everything from martial arts and sumo wrestling to traditional music and contemporary film. While you’re here, make sure to sample authentic Japanese cuisine from one of the many food vendors.


Eastside Culture Crawl
This four-day visual arts, design and crafts festival sees over 400 artists on Vancouver’s eastside open their studios and workspaces to 20,000 visitors. You’ll meet some of the city’s most acclaimed, quirky and up-and-coming arts and craftspeople, with plenty of opportunities to pick up some well-priced souvenirs. With over 75 buildings to explore, make sure you grab a map and plan your route.


Carol Ships Parade of Lights
During the holiday season, the city is aglow with holiday lights, and the waterways are no exception. Watch the Carol Ships Parade of Lights at Coal Harbour to see more than 50 boats decked out in festive décor and illuminated strings of lights.

Chinatown Spring Festival Celebration
Celebrate the Chinese New Year in Vancouver with a vibrant parade and cultural fair, featuring traditional lion dances, marching bands, cultural dance performances, martial arts demonstrations and plenty of authentic Chinese street food.