Vancouver: Five Unmissable Summer Events 2012


With just over a month to go until our inaugural flight to Vancouver, we’ve been taking a look at what’s coming up on the city’s calendar this summer. Turns out there’s no shortage of cultural, musical, hedonistic and plain old-fashioned fun events on offer this year – here’s the five we’re most looking forward to…


Bard on the Beach: 31 May – 22 September

Bard on the Beach is the largest professional Shakespeare company in Western Canada and every year it presents a summer festival in Kitsilano’s Vanier Park, adjacent to Vancouver’s downtown. Performances – which run every day except Mondays – are staged in open-ended tents on the waterfront against a dramatic backdrop of mountains, sea and sky. Tickets are now on sale for this year’s productions, which include The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor and King John.


Bard on the Beach © juicebox_hero

Bard on the Beach © juicebox_hero


Vancouver International Jazz Festival: 22 June – 1 July

The Vancouver International Jazz Festival is British Columbia’s largest music showcase, with 40 venues playing host to almost 2,000 musicians across 400 concerts, many of which are free. For more than 25 years, a superlative lineup of high-profile performers have descended upon the city in a celebration of jazz, funk, Latino and fusion; this year’s headliners include jazz guitar legend George Benson, vocalist Dianne Reeves and contemporary jazz guitarist and composer Bill Frisell.


Vancouver Pride Parade: 5 August

What started out as a low-key protest through Davie Village in 1978 is now a full-on annual party that attracts people from across the world, spans 20 city blocks and celebrates Vancouver’s vibrant gay community. The parade of around 150 cars, floats and marching units finishes up at the Sunset Beach festival site, where an assorted collection of street performers, vendors and beer gardens take the party into the night. According to Vancouver Pride‘s organisers, the parade attendance – more than 600,000 – actually exceeds the population of Vancouver itself, and is the only Pride Parade in the world which can make this claim.


Celebration of Light on English Bay: 28 July – 4 August

Every summer, English Bay becomes home to the largest off-shore fireworks display in the world. Vancouver’s Celebration of Light is an international pryo-musical competition, which takes place over three separate nights in front of one million people. We’re not talking any old rockets and sparklers here either; Vancouver invites three countries each year to show off their extravagant choreography and pyrotechnic prowess in an intensely-fought battle, and it’s safe to say they all really try to outdo one another. This year’s countries are yet to be announced, so keep an eye on the websitefor more details.


Vancouver Timelapse – Celebration of Light 2010 from Scribblevision on Vimeo.


The Fair at the PNE: 18 August – 3 September

The Pacific National Exhibition organisation hosts a 17-day summer fair every year in its historic grounds, with more than 800 attractions and events for all the family. The grounds are also home to the seasonal Playland Amusement Park. This year the park is open from 28 April – 30 September, and features more than 35 thrilling rides and attractions, including a classic wooden rollercoaster, and ATMOSFEAR, a brand new ride introduced last year. You’ll swing 360° at 70km/hr at a height of 218 feet – easily one of Vancouver’s best views if you can bear to open your eyes.


Playland Amusement Park at the PNE ©

Playland Amusement Park at the PNE ©


Virgin Atlantic flights to Vancouver begin on 24 May 2012. Check out the previous article on our route launch for more ideas of what to do in Vancouver.

Photos: Header shot © Jahoo |, Bard on the Beach © juicebox_hero.

About Maxine Sheppard

Maxine is the co-editor of the Virgin Atlantic blog. Travel and music are her joint first loves, and despite having written for Virgin for more years than she cares to remember she still loves nothing more than jumping on a plane in search of new sights and new sounds.
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