According to a recent local poll, almost 4.55% of Lower Mainlanders will watch fireworks for Canada Day, 31.82% will attend local events, 13.64% will head out of town and 50% will stay at home and have a BBQ.  The numbers don’t quite add up, but you get the drift.

If you’re not keen on spending a lot of money, here are some activities that are not only free but also sound interesting.

Burnaby: 1 AM – 4:30 PM

If you  haven’t visited Burnaby Village Museum, and its set up of a 1920s village street, Canada Day will provide the perfect opportunity.  As part of the 40 year celebration, the City of Burnaby is providing free admission to the museum on Canada Day and all season.  Families will be able to enjoy a fun variety of events including heritage games, face painting, a clown presentation and a sword demonstration put on by Academie Duello.  The Canada Day parade starts at 1:45 and is followed by the serving of the Canada Cake at 2:30.

Coquitlam: 12 PM – 11 PM

The Culturecoquitlam.ca website has extensive information about the various activities that will be set up around the Evergreen Cultural Centerm in Coquitlam. From sports, arts, community information and food, to canoeing, fishing and musical presentations, this is a Canada Day celebration in an attractive location that covers everyone’s interests.  Fireworks will round out the evening at 10:30. Parking is available right at the center; however, it might be full. So do have a look at the nearest streets to the center, should you have to park and walk. The center is also located on a major thoroughfare, so bus transit is always an option. If you don’t live in Coquitlam but wonder what life is like there for families, this is a great opportunity to investigate.

Fort Langley

If you haven’t had a chance to visit the Fort Langley National Historic Site, today is the day as entrance will be free.  You can learn more about what is going on in the Fort Langley area on their website.

Granville Market:  8 AM – Midnight
Canada day is the perfect time to play tourist in the Lower Mainland.  For a colourful experience and energetic buzz, Granville Island fits the bill.  Their Canada Day celebrations include their own parade, an impressive array of events such as a ferry ballet (!), a pancake breakfast and various musical performances, including a South Asian presentation of arts and food. If you are looking for a festival that might appeal to the older child or teenager, you will want to plan your schedule carefully using their programme. If you plan to attend keep in mind that you can take ferries to Granville Island from various locations downtown.  You can also easily walk down to Granville Island from South Granville  Rise.  If you are using a wheelchair, you might want to consider taking the #50 Fasle Creek bus, which drops off close to the entrance. See the Granville Island How to Find Us page, for more information.

New Westminster: 11:30 – 3:30
In New Wesminster the focus for celebrations is on the Queen’s Park area.  For more information check out the New West Minster tourism website.  You can easily combine a visit to New Westminster with a visit to the activities in either Burnaby or Coquitlam.

Richmond: 6:30 AM – 5:00 PM

If you’re looking for an outing in Richmond, picturesque Steveston never disappoints. The Steveston Salmon Festival has been ongoing since 1945 and is a joint event on Canada Day.  There will be a pancake breakfast starting at 6:30 AM, a parade at 10 AM and various other events including a road race at 10:00, Japanese cultural displays, art and craft shows, children’s festival, horticultural show, a popular salmon barbecue and musical presentations. If you plan to drive there, be sure to check out the road closure map so that you can plan your parking.  If you are planning to take the Skytrain and bus, allow enough time as Steveston is the farthest point in Richmond from the Skytrain.

Surrey: 10 AM – 10:30 PM

Just because you don’t live in or close to Surrey doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t consider attending their Canada Day celebrations.  If you like the buzz of being in a large Canada Day celebration – much like the Duke and Duchess will get on Parliament Hill – this is one of the largest Canada Day celebrations in Western Canada. Check out their website for important information about how to get there (transit or where to park) and for information about the events. (Event information is also available on their Things to Do webpage.)  The top events have a strong family focus and includea shooting stars midway and bouncy world, a craft focussed Kids World, food and market place and a Storyville area featuring stories and songs for children.

Vancouver: 10 AM – 6 PM, followed by a parade at 7 PM and Fireworks at 10:30 PM

Canada Place is the host for the downtown festivities on Canada Day.  You can watch the Canada Day parade featuring more than 60 floats starting at 7 PM from Broughton and Georgia Street.  There will be five stages and four other centres set up around the area featuring arts, sports, a citizenship ceremony, and musical presentations.  You can also learn more about Canada’s Peace Keeping forces, have your photo taken to be part of a large Canadian photo mosaic and watch the Sail of Lights animated show from dawn until dusk.  If you attend all of the stages and centers you can collect stamps and enter to win a $2,000 BC Ferries prize.  For more information about the extensive programme downtown, visit their webpage.    Since these events take place near two Skytrain lines and major bus routes, taking transit is an easy option instead of trying to find parking.

South Granville Rise

The Whole Foods at Cambie and Broadway will host a BBQ today featuring sliders, salads, in-house made potato chips and aqua fresca
at $2 for each item.  The BBQ is ongoing until 3 PM and the store is conveniently located near the Broadway Skytrain station

Yaletown: 1 PM – 6:30

If you enjoy watching the Tour de France or if you have an avid cyclist in your family, you will want to head down to the Yaletown Grand Prix.  In this intimate setting you and your family will feel like you’re in the heart of the action.  The first race starts at 1 PM and last race starts at 4:55. Races run anywhere from 25 to 65 minutes.  If you’re wondering what this event is like, you can check out photographs from previous years. Yaletown is easily accessible by Sktrain and has limited parking available.  So do plan to take transit if you don’t live in the area.  You can easily combine attendance at this event with a visit to either Granville Island or the Canada Place events.  If you’re really keen you can attend all three!

Downtown/West Side/West Vancouver: 10:30 PM – 11 PM

Whether you’re attending a local event, or celebrating with family, you can round out the evening by watching the 5th Annual Burrard Inlet Fireworks.  There will be two barges located near Canada Place and in Dundarave, near West Vancovuer. You will be able to watch the Fireworks from locations downtown where there are good sight lines to the Inlet.  For the first time, this year, you can also pay to sit in a viewing area near Burrard Inlet. Proceeds from ticket sales will support charities such as the Food Security for Children programme.  One free child (12 and under) is available for every adult ticket purchased. The fireworks will also be visible to people in West and North Vancouver, and to a more limited degree on the west side.  They are not viewable from English Bay.

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