Always a laid-back city, Vancouver ramps up the chill factor in August.
Tourists may be thick on the ground in the downtown core, but traffic is significantly lighter as most locals stay away from work to enjoy the last lazy days of summer vacation. Days are warm–even hot–and the late sunsets stretch the window for outdoor R&R.
Good to know: British Columbia Day is a provincial holiday falling on the first Monday of August. It’s a particular busy weekend for travel, especially at Vancouver International Airport. If you’re planning to travel by ferry that weekend, it’s best to make a reservation well in advance.
What to pack:
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Temperatures fall in the 17 C/62 F range, but if any month is likely to feature a surprise heat wave, it’s August. Bring shorts or capris and a sweater or shawl; a water-resistant windbreaker; sunscreen, sunglasses and a swimsuit (if you want to dip more than your toes in the Pacific); and comfortable walking shoes and sandals.
Things to do in Vancouver in August:
- Celebration of Light: This popular fireworks in English Bay festival clogs the West End streets for several nights in late July and early August, but stay on foot and stake your beach claim early for a memorable summer-in-the-city experience.
- MusicFest: Two weeks of classical, jazz and world music performances at venues throughout the city.
- Bard on the Beach and Theatre Under the Stars: Beloved by locals for more than 20 years, Bard is an outdoor Shakespeare festival at Kits Point offering a range of first-class theatre productions in rep through to September. If musicals are more to your taste, head to Malkin Bowel in Stanley Park for one of the two alternating Broadway-style shows presented each July and August by TUTS.
- Playland and the Pacific National Exhbition: Popular with ‘tweens, teens and families, Playland is a giant (and not inexpensive) amusement park adjacent to the Pacific National Exhibition grounds on Hastings Street. The “fair” as it is known locally runs kicks off with a parade and runs for roughly two weeks from late August until the Labour Day holiday in early September.
- Klahowya Village in Stanley Park: Billed as an “authentic aboriginal experience,” this popular summer attraction is a family-friendly introduction to First Nations history in BC. Runs through to early September.
- Picnic in a park: Pick up a meal to go from one of the city’s new street food carts and head for any of the nearby parks or beaches for al fresco dining. Or head to Ceperley Meadow in Stanley Park to enjoy a free outdoor movie.
- Take a drive: Longer days means there’s more time to rent a car and explore further afield. Consider a scenic drive along Highway 99 towards Whistler, a birding excursion to the Reifel Bird Sanctuary, or one of these other easy day-trips.
- Chinese Night Markets: With its subtantial Asian population, Vancouver supports two Chinese night markets. The Summer Night Market in suburban Richmond runs from 7 pm to midnight Fridays and Saturdays, and 7 to 11 pm on Sundays and holidays, and is the larger and more authentic variety. But if you’re pressed for time or without wheels, visit the Chinatown Night Market held every Friday, Saturday and Sunday night from 6:30 pm to 11:00 pm at Keefer and Main.
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Photo: Tourism Vancouver