My Vancouver summer has been the perfect introduction to the city. Festivals have been happening all around the region each weekend and even closing the main streets downtown regularly. With the sun shining and new Australian companions, life has been good. I have tried to attend most festivals, events, markets and parades. I think I did a very well-rounded job too. So here is my pick of the top three Vancouver summer festivals, and why you should visit Vancouver next summer to participate.
1. Celebration of Light
I really liked the concept of the Celebration of Light Festival. It includes three different musical fireworks spectaculars lasting for 25 minutes each. They all represent three different countries. This year it was the UK, Canada and Thailand. The fireworks colour the sky over three nights in one week: Saturday, Wednesday and the following Saturday. Every time I see fireworks I think back to when I was little and scared of the bangs and sparkles. I would hide away under my parents like a frightened puppy. But now I can’t get enough of them. A must to add to your Vancouver summer festivals itinerary.
There were some amazing fireworks used that I had never seen before. They spun in the air, changed colour and exploded to light up nearly the entire night sky. I have to admit though that Canada blew the other countries out of the sky, and they were named the eventual winners. Their show had a great flow and was just, pretty much, an awesome spectacle that I didn’t want to end. If you can’t get to all three, it is definitely worth it to see at least one round next year.
2. Pride Festival
The Pride Festival is a rainbow extravaganza that takes over Vancouver’s West End for a few days in early August. There are free events, markets and dances, but the big one is the Pride Parade, which makes its way down Robson and Davie Streets over two and a half hours. I couldn’t believe how many floats were in the show, from local nightclubs, Viagra promoters, WestJet, the Spice Girls in drag, the Cancer Council and even Starbucks!
It was great to see friends, family and school board members proudly walking, decorated in rainbows and showing their support as well. As I sat on Robson Street, coloured beads around my neck and bobbing to the music, I thought to my own hometown in Australia. Would we ever put on a festival like this to celebrate the LGBT community? I just don’t think it would happen. However, we do have the Mardi Gras in Sydney, which is definitely a step in the right direction. Vancouver, be very proud of this festival.
3. Food Cart Fest
As soon as I read about the Food Cart Fest, I knew I had to attend. For a $2 entry fee (unless you bank with Vancity, which allows you to get in for free) you are greeted with a smorgasbord of food choices that will take you all around the world. Taste food from Australia to France to the Caribbean to Greece to Mexico to India and back to Canada. I knew I wanted to try something a little different, so I opted for a combo from The Reef Runner, a food truck extension of the Caribbean’s Reef Restaurant, which can be found on Main Streets and Commercial Drive I found out later. I tried plantain fries and a vegetarian roti and it was just a little bit spicy and a whole lot of yummy. My fellow fest goers tried a kebab, which was huge and very popular with other diners, and some spectacular savoury crepes.
I couldn’t walk away without trying a bit of dessert, so I opted for one of Johnny’s Pops, which was perfect for the hot summer’s day. The raspberry lime flavour was so sweet, I was happy to eat it quickly before it melted. The fest also includes people spritzing you with water, magicians and a small flea market.
Read More: Vancouver Eats — The Food Truck Edition
Vancouver Summer Festivals
I am so glad that everything fell into place so I could experience these sensational Vancouver summer festivals. I just hope the festivities continue all year-round, but only time will tell.
Do you have a favourite summer festival?