Vancouver Weekend: We're Thinking....Long Weekend Activities
Need something to do this weekend? Here are five places to enjoy yourselves for the May long weekend.
Castle Fun Park, 36165 North Parallel Road, Abbotsford
This Fraser Valley attraction has been providing entertainment to people of all ages for over 25 years, and it doesn’t seem to be slowing down. Castle Fun Park is one of those places that can catch your eye on the highway, and anyone with a penchant for a good time can’t help but scream, “Pull over!” to whoever is driving.
As soon as you step inside, your questions about whether or not you can spend the entire day here will be answered: one afternoon won’t be enough. For starters, there are three mini golf courses for you to choose from, as well as outdoor go karts, batting cages, bumper cars, bowling, a driving range, a pitching mound, and remote-control boats.
There are also over 200 arcade games, from classic hits like Frogger and Pac-Man to modern picks like virtual-reality fighting and car racing. Although arcade games may seem like a retro attraction, you access them through the park’s “playcard”—you load it with money and swipe it to play any game, collect points for rewards, or buy food at the concession.
In other words, you’ll never need coins or tokens or cash. We don’t know about you, but this spot is our perfect pick to hit up on the long-weekend holiday.
Playland, 2901 East Hastings Street
The trouble with living in a city where a premier amusement park is only a bus ride away is that it’s always going to be there tomorrow. Be honest—how many of you have dropped in to one of Vancouver’s top tourist attractions in the last 12 months? Yeah, we thought so.
This long weekend, however, is an excellent excuse to make some definitive plans to gorge on hot dogs, mini donuts, and cotton candy, and test the strength of your stomach while being swung around on the Beast. Recently opening its doors for the season, Playland is now in full operation on Saturdays, Sundays, and holidays.
New this May are three fresh rides: mini-coaster Bug Whirled, the pedal-powered Flutterbye,and the head-tossing Dizzy Drop, which join the big draws of the double-helix Corkscrew coaster, the tipping Hell’s Gate, and the world-famous jerks of the Wooden Roller Coaster.
Don’t feel, either, that Playland is a spot only frequented by those struggling with late-adolescent acne, or seven-year-olds at a birthday party.With everything from climbing walls to glass houses and arcade games, there’s plenty to amuse a broad range of Vancouverites over Victoria Day.
Illumination Summer Night Market, 12631 Vulcan Way, Richmond, and Richmond Night Market, 8351 River Road, Richmond
It ain’t summer until you find yourself at one of Richmond’s many night markets, balancing a tray of takoyaki, containers of grilled squid, and a tornado-potato skewer in one hand. And while the food is most certainly a draw at these late-night spots (the shaved ice! the bubble tea! the deep-fried Mars bars!), there are some zero-calorie attractions too.
At Illumination, formerly known as Panda Night Market, attendees can take in an extravagant light-and-lantern show—touted as the largest of its kind in North America—and live entertainment from musicians and dancers.
At the Richmond Night Market, you’ll find a dinosaur park outfitted with large, moving reproductions of pterosaurs and T-Rexes as well as bumper cars and a Canada 150 exhibition that looks back on the municipality’s history in celebration of the nation’s sesquicentennial birthday.
Of course, we can’t forget about the priced-to-sell smartphone covers, cartoon-adorned socks, and bootleg DVDs that truly make night markets a place for the entire family. Given the hundreds of food and retail stalls to explore, don’t be surprised if you need multiple days to get through both.
Victoria Day at Victoria Park, 1425 Victoria Drive
Ever wondered, like, what even is Victoria Day? (Hint: it’s some long-dead queen’s birthday.) Event organizers evidently asked themselves this question before coming up with the idea for an inaugural event at the aptly named park that seeks to celebrate and critique the Victorian era.
And they’re not beating around the bush: they’ve dubbed this year’s theme ‘Child Poverty Then and Now’, with the intention of generating awareness for the B.C. Child and Youth Advocacy Coalition.
The free educational event will be entertaining, too, with live music from Carnival Band, Maya Rae, and Harmony of Nations. If you’re looking to get the kids outside and off their digital devices for a change, outdoor activities like croquet, horseshoes, hoops, jump rope, stilts, and other Victorian games will take them back to a time that even your grandmother can’t tell you about.
Speeches and special performances by children’s entertainers, food trucks, and a by-donation photo booth round out the list of offerings at this inaugural event.
Self-guided brewery tour, various locations
The best part about a long weekend is that you get to pretend that work doesn’t exist for an extra day. And what better way to escape one’s troubles than by kicking back with a beer or three? Or five? Thank God, then, for the rise of Yeast Vancouver.
The East Side of the city—specifically, the Grandview-Woodland and Mount Pleasant neighbourhoods—has seen a crazy proliferation of grassroots breweries, with established favourites like Brassneck and Parallel 49 seemingly joined weekly by upstarts like Andina and Luppolo.
While P49 remains under renovation, travel east and you’ll find Doan’s, Powell Street Craft Brewery, and Callister, all of which can be handily hit in a couple of hours. (Don’t miss the Rye IPA at Doan’s, and Powell’s award-winning Old Jalopy Pale Ale.)
Cyclists, meanwhile, can work their way down the mountainous Adanac bike path, where they’ll be rewarded for their efforts with sleeves of passion-fruit and honey-ginger ales at spots like Bomber and Off the Rail.
If you’ve got a Compass card in your possession (shout out to the Evergreen Line), we also recommend hitting Port Moody’s Brewers Row, where you’ll find four breweries within stumbling distance of one another. Cap off the afternoon with a treat at Rocky Point Ice Cream and it’ll be well worth the trip.