Yes, Canada has its fair share of problems. But with the dismal headlines bombarding our newsfeeds as of late, we'll take any opportunity to raise a glass to the freedoms, diversity, tolerance, and respect for migrant, LGBT, and a myriad of other basic human rights the Great White North has to offer.
From silent discos and Guinness World Record–attempting drum circles to cannabis-toasting shindigs and firework spectacles, here's where to celebrate July 1 without breaking the bank (read: for free) in Metro Vancouver.
June 30 from 8 to 11 p.m.at the Vancouver Art Gallery’s šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square
Local event collective Party4Health is once again throwing “the quietest, rowdiest” party in Vancouver with its well-attended silent disco. Not familiar with the concept? Simply arrive with a pair of earphones or headphones and some sort of music-playing device—plus your shiniest dancing shoes—and be ready to boogie the night away with a host of other soundless revelers. Load up on the Drake, Justin, and Céline—the more Canadian the playlist the better—and don’t forget to rock some red and white.
July 1 from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Canada Place (999 Canada Place)
It’s the largest Canada Day celebration outside of our country’s capital, so if you’re looking for a crowd-filled place to proudly show off your red and white attire on July 1, this is the destination to check out. Event-goers can expect plenty of activities and entertainment lined up for our nation’s birthday at Canada Place, including live musical performances, interactive displays and exhibits by the Canadian Forces, a picnic plaza with brood-friendly things to do, and food trucks. Although the Canada Day parade won’t be taking place this year, the highly anticipated fireworks show will return—make sure to keep your eyes in the skies at 10:30 p.m.
July 1 from 8 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Granville Island
Granville Island has a tradition of getting all parts of the peninsula in on the Canada Day spirit and this year is no different. The site promises all sorts of attractions for the whole fam, including an artisan market, DIY T-shirt and button-making workshops, a musical-instrument playground, and more. Expect cultural performances from groups like Kunda African Music & Dance—plus a packed schedule of shows as part of the TD International Jazz Festival—and the Island’s longstanding Canada Day parade, too.
July 1 from 8:30 a.m. to 10:30 p.m. at Steveston Village
This full-day street festival in Richmond’s quaint Steveston Village kicks off early in the morning, starting with a pancake breakfast at 6:30 a.m followed by a flag-raising ceremony at 8:40 a.m. (Calling all early birds.) From there, the annual fête will celebrate Canada’s 151st birthday with over 50 performances across eight stages, a street market, food trucks, street hockey, and more. Other big highlights of the day include the Steveston Salmon Festival’s salmon barbecue, a Canada Day parade through the village, and a fireworks finale at night.
July 1 from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. at Creekside Park (1455 Quebec Street)
After a successful inaugural iteration in 2017, the Legacy 150 Celebrations Society is once again hosting a drumming circle that will cheers to Canada’s multiculturalism and diversity—all while attempting to break the Guinness World Record for “Most Nationalities in a Drum Circle”. The performance will be executed at the same time as nine others taking place across the country. People of all ages are invited to participate or serve as spectators, where they can also enjoy a kid’s area, food trucks, and more. Interested drummers with a foreign passport may sign up to join the circle online.
July 1 from 12 to 4 p.m. at Waterfront Park (200 Esplanade West, North Vancouver)
For those who want to attend a zero-waste Canada Day celebration, check out this event on the North Shore. The party has been hosted by the Rotary Club of Lions Gate for the past 30 years, and attendees will be able to enjoy musical performances from a Celtic ensemble and eagle song dancers from the Squamish nation, among others. Balloon artists, bouncy castles, and a climbing wall will be onsite to entertain children—and the big kids—while various food options will be available to satisfy appetites. (Think an Indigenous food truck, fish and chips, and Mexican frozen fruit bars.) Keep an eye out for the free cupcakes: they probably won’t last long because who doesn’t love free food?
July 1 from 11 p.m. to 1 a.m. at Jack Poole Plaza (1085 Canada Place)
Another Party4Health production, this carefree celebration of all things Canuck asks guests to arrive to downtown Vancouver with nothing but a boombox in hand and a willingness to, well, break it down. Inspired by Tom and Gary’s Decentralized Dance Party—a flash mob–like evening that sees hundreds of costumed revellers grooving together at a public site—the event will transform Jack Poole Plaza into a giant dance floor where attendees can sync their radio-compatible boomboxes to a DJ’s master broadcast.
July 1 from 12 to 6 p.m. at Thornton Park (1166 Main Street)
Probably the only event on this list you may want to think twice about bringing your kid to, Vancouver’s annual Cannabis Day returns to East Van for an afternoon of smoking, sampling, and general rejoice. Run by some of the city’s leading cannabis activists, the event is at once a protest opposing Canada’s age-old war against cannabis users and a sort of 4/20-lite that commemorates the power and pleasures of the plant. Expect big crowds: this is likely your last chance to smoke up illicitly before weed is finally legalized across the country this October.
July 1 from 12 to 10:30 p.m. at Town Centre Park (1299 Pinetree Way)
Consider venturing into the suburbs on July 1 because Coquitlam’s Canada Day event never disappoints. Growing to be the largest community festival in the Tri-Cities, the affair will feature a wide range of live music and entertainment, ethnic and regional food, and family-friendly highlights. Its Eat Street will showcase everything from bubble tea to Ukrainian dishes to Malaysian fare. Stay 'til the end because that’s when the fireworks spectacular comes on at Lafarge Lake—it’s located in the center of the park, so you’ll get a great view of the sparks as long as you’re in the vicinity of the area.
July 1 from 10 a.m. to 11 p.m. at Bill Reid Memorial Amphitheatre (17728 64 Avenue, Surrey)
Canadian singer/songwriters Serena Ryder and Brett Kissel headline this Canada Day celebration, where you’ll also find amusement rides, food trucks, and kid-appropriate attractions like face-painting and arts and crafts. There’ll even be a skateboard, scooter, and bike jam session for youth and onsite drone racing, in which participants strap on goggles that enable them to see through the perspective of the devices they’re controlling thanks to the use of image-transmitting cameras.
July 1 from 12 to 4 p.m. on Robson Street between Burrard and Denman streets
Celebrate Canada Day on one of Vancouver’s busiest retail strips with live music, entertainment, and giveaways in the downtown core. Taking place on an eight-block stretch of Robson Street, the event will feature performances from local musicians like Michael Meroniuk and Dueling Pianos, food trucks, a street hockey tournament, and more. Over 25 retailers, including CB2, Muji, and Nike, will also be offering special deals, discounts, and gifts with purchases if you’re feeling spendy.
July 1 from 5 to 10:30 p.m. at Swangard Stadium (3883 Imperial Street, Burnaby)
An all-star music lineup featuring Said the Whale, DJ Khanvict, and the Boom Booms are the main draw at this Canada Day shindig. Between performances, enjoy tot-friendly activities like face-painting, games, and giveaways. The night ends with a fireworks showcase. If Swangard isn’t your scene—or if you’re looking to start the red-and-white festivities a little earlier—Edmonds Plaza & Park and the Burnaby Village Museum are also hosting their own July 1 celebrations in the municipality.
July 1 from 12 to 11 p.m. at River Market (810 Quayside Drive, New Westminster)
Toast to Canada Day along New Westminster’s scenic waterfront, where live music, balloon-twisting, table hockey, and roving circus performers await. The New West Craft Market will also be onsite with a host of small-batch, artisan goods, and many of the River Market shops will open later than usual for your perusing pleasure. Fireworks cap off the night at 10 p.m.More