Looking for an amazing festival or community event to round out your slate of summer activities in Vancouver? With highlights like the Vancouver Jazz Festival and Vancouver Pride, the city’s festival season is in full swing throughout the summer. Here’s our guide to the best Vancouver festivals for summer 2019.
Best Music Festivals in Vancouver
Vancouver Folk Music Festival
Dates: July 19 – July 21, 2019
Each year the Vancouver Folk Music Festival draws more than 40,000 music lovers to Jericho Beach Park. A major event on the folk and roots music circuit and in true Vancouver fashion, the festival takes place among the park’s cedar and pine trees. Artists confirmed for this year include Basia Bulat, Canadian favourites, Sam Roberts Band, Charlotte Day Wilson, Hamiltones, and Corb Lund.
This Vancouver festival features more than 70 hours of folk and global music on eight stages, as well as food vendors and crafts market. Families will want to head to the Little Folks Village for crafts, face painting and storytelling.
TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival
Dates: June 21 – July 1, 2019
When it comes to music festivals in Vancouver, it doesn’t get bigger (and better) than the TD Vancouver International Jazz Festival. For 12 days, half a million jazz fans will enjoy some of the biggest names in music, such as Herbie Hancock, Erykah Badu and Lady Gaga, along with the world’s best jazz, Latin and fusion artists.
There are three types of shows to enjoy at this Vancouver music festival. Ticketed concerts cap out at around $100, with many going for much less. Some shows happening at local bars, pubs and clubs may be ticketed, but most are free. Free open-air concerts are mostly located outside the Vancouver Art Gallery downtown, on Granville Island, and in David Lam Park in the Vancouver neighbourhood of Yaletown. The David Lam Park shows draw huge crowds, along with street trucks and shopping stalls. Come prepared with a folding chair or a blanket.
From June 21, 2019, check out over 300 concerts spread across 35 venues in downtown Vancouver. You don’t need to be the world’s biggest jazz fan to enjoy this popular Vancouver festival. Headliners at this year’s fest include The Roots and Wu-Tang Clan! For more info on the 2019 Vancouver Jazz Festival, then check out Skyscanner’s latest article on this summer’s Jazz Fest.
Dates: June 15 – June 16, 2019
Founded in 2017 by CRESCENDO1, BREAKOUT Festival is a showcase of some of the hottest artists in hip-hop and R&B, as well as Vancouver’s up-and-coming performers. This two-day festival in Vancouver takes place at the historic PNE Amphitheatre on East Hastings.
This year’s lineup includes A$AP Rocky, Rich the Kid, Lil Baby and Rae Sremmurd. There’s also a VIP section, a food truck area, bars and an alcohol-free zone. Bonus: Ticket prices include a ride pass and entry to Playland from 2 p.m. – 5:30 p.m.
Vancouver Island MusicFest
Dates: July 12 – July 14, 2019
Laidback Vancouver Island is jumping each July, as MusicFest takes over to the Comox Valley Fairgrounds. Headlining this year’s festival is Colin James, Tom Cochrane with Red Rider, The Hamiltones, Asleep at the Wheel and Robben Ford. Past acts have included Barenaked Ladies, Walk Off the Earth and Serena Ryder.
Vancouver Island MusicFest boasts six different stages. On top of seeing headlining acts at the Concert Bowl, you can check out dance performances, song circles, workshops, barn dances and Q&As with performers. This family-friendly Vancouver festival has a Kidzzone with supervised crafts, stilt walking, music, juggling and face painting. If you’re looking to spend an overnight at this festival, camping is also available on an acreage bordering the banks of the Tsolum River.
Best Community Events in Vancouver
Vancouver Pride Festival
Dates: Festival runs from July 29 – August 5, 2019. Vancouver Pride Parade takes place August 4, 2019.
The city of Vancouver hosts one of Canada’s largest pride celebrations. The days leading up to the parade are packed with more than 20 spectacular events, bringing together the LGBTQ+ community of Vancouver and beyond. We’ve got all you need to know about Vancouver Pride 2019 here.
The Vancouver Pride Parade attracts more than 650,000 spectators as more than 150 rainbow floats, dancers, performances and marching groups begin travelling from Robson Street starting at noon on August 4th. The parade ends at the Sunset Beach Festival, but the fun doesn’t. At Sunset Beach, join in the celebration with live music, a beer garden, vendor booths, or swim in the ocean.
Khatsahlano Street Party
Dates: July 6, 2019
The West 4th Avenue Khatsahlano Street Party is Vancouver’s free one-day music and arts festival. Khatsahlano showcases more than 50 musical performances, as well as local street performers and artisans.
The Vancouver summer street party spans 10 blocks, from Burrard to McDonald Street, with food vendors, special activities and a beer garden. This year’s Khatsahlano Street Party features Canadian indie favourites, Hey Ocean!, The Boom Booms, and duo Harlequin Gold.
Carnaval de Sol
Dates: July 6 – July 7, 2019
Go for something different in Vancouver this summer and check out Carnaval de Sol at Concord Pacific Place. This Vancouver festival is currently the largest Latin American festival in all of the Pacific Northwest, and it’s a two-day long celebration of music, dance, art, sports and spoken word.
This year’s festival brings together more than 450 artists from across Latin America. Past performers include world music band Pacifika, Guatemalan collective TANGA, and Afro/Latin sounds by Camaro 67. But what’s a festival without food? Travel across borders, sampling regional dishes prepared by local food trucks, or enjoy a cold beer at the Beer Plaza. Get your tickets to this year’s festival here.
Best Family-Friendly Festivals in Vancouver
Vancouver International Children’s Festival
Dates: May 27 – June 2, 2019
This family-friendly festival takes place on Granville Island. The Vancouver International Children’s Festival introduces kids to performances and entertainers in English and French, as well as crafts, activities, face-painting, and dance. And yes, Canada’s beloved Fred Penner will be performing this year! Get the kids ready to meet this legendary performer.
Granville Island is a tourist staple in Vancouver, so combine your festival experience with wandering through the island’s many artisan stores, massive indoor market, and pocket gardens with the children’s festival to keep the kids entertained.
Granville Island is located just south of downtown Vancouver, and you can easily walk the Burrard Street or Granville Street bridges to reach it, take a ferry from the downtown side, or catch a bus. Parking will be overloaded, so save yourself the headache and look for alternate transportation. You’ll likely find that a downtown Vancouver hotel is the most convenient option; look for one in the West End, near Granville or Burrard Street, or in Yaletown for ease of access.
Theatre Under The Stars Musical Society
Dates: July 5 – August 17, 2019
A summer experience not to be missed, Vancouver’s Theatre Under The Stars (TUTS) is a fun, family-friendly event of nightly musical entertainment. Theatre Under The Stars takes place at Malkin Bowl in Stanley Park. This year’s Vancouver festival features the smash-hit musical, Mamma Mia! and Disney’s NEWSIES. There are numerous performances of both productions throughout the festival, so reserve your tickets here.
Grab a seat on the grassy field at Malkin Bowl and unpack your picnic basket. Hot and cold food and drinks are also available at the Garden Cafe.
Celebration of Light
Dates: July 27, July 31 and August 3, 2019
You haven’t really seen fireworks until you’ve experienced Vancouver’s Celebration of Light. This annual fireworks competition is a summer highlight in Vancouver, wowing crowds from all over Canada and abroad. It’s the largest live event in BC and includes a celebration of music and celebration of food – it’s definitely a must-see Vancouver event this summer!
The main draw for this Vancouver festival is the spectacular fireworks displays, which are choreographed to music and launched off a floating barge. The show starts at dusk and the place to be is on the beach in English Bay and Burrard Inlet. People stake out their spots starting in the early morning to get the best view. The fireworks are quite close to Davie Street and Stanley Park, and there’s lots more to see and do in Stanley Park as well.
Along with the fireworks themselves, this year’s Celebration of Light kicks off each evening with an accompanying music festival down at Sunset Beach. SHOREFEST is Vancouver’s largest free community concert series. Some of BC’s best musical talent start hitting the stages in the early afternoon, getting crowds warmed up for the spectacular fireworks to begin.
Getting to Vancouver
Vancouver International Airport (YVR) is a major travel hub on Canada’s West Coast and is conveniently connected to Metro Vancouver’s rapid transit system.
Air Canada flies nonstop to Vancouver from a number of major Canadian cities, including Toronto, Montreal, Calgary, Edmonton, Saskatoon and Winnipeg. Air Canada also flies direct to Vancouver from a number of U.S. cities direct, including New York, Los Angeles, Seattle and Portland.
WestJet is the second largest airline in Canada and also offers nonstop flights to YVR from Toronto, Calgary, Montreal, Regina, Winnipeg, Ottawa, and other Canadian cities. Direct U.S. connections to Vancouver International Airport include Chicago, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
Where to Stay in Vancouver
Booking a hotel in downtown Vancouver in advance is a must for the Celebration of Light and most of the other Vancouver festivals. Look for something in the West End or Coal Harbour for best results during the Celebration of Light – the crowds get so intense that just walking a couple of blocks can take a while.
If you’re heading to the Jazz Festival, a hotel in the Yaletown or Railtown neighbourhoods offers easy, convenient access if you’d feel most comfortable walking to and from shows. Other central locations to consider include Fairview, Kitsilano, or Mount Pleasant hotels.
Flying in and out of Vancouver? We’ve rounded up the best hotels near Vancouver Airport – whatever your budget!
Explore More in Vancouver
The early festival season features some of the city’s most exciting experiences, but it doesn’t stop there. There are so many more events and activities to check out in Vancouver, so if your trip doesn’t overlap with one of these, or you’re visiting later in the season, be sure to ask your hotel about the best local festivals and experiences to check out. Check out some of our Vancouver travel guides below to make the most of your stay.