Vancouver is the sparking seaside gem of Canada’s west coast and a popular tourist destination for Canadians and international visitors alike.
As the largest city in western Canada, it is host to more attractions and events than could possibly be counted. From whale watching, to high fashion, to the arts, Vancouver is a powerhouse of culture and entertainment.
Among its many annual festivals too numerous to describe, Vancouver’s love of the performing arts is expressed through performance festivals. These include: the International Vancouver Jazz Festival with over 300 concerts each year; and the Bard On The Beach event that features multiple performances of Shakespeare’s plays at a gorgeous seaside venue.
Arts and Entertainment
Film and photography lovers can enjoy the Capture Photography Festival, the Doxa Documentary Film Festival, and the Vancouver Queer Film Festival. This is just a sampling, so please feel free to explore further here.
One summer event that sparks excitement across the city every summer is the Celebration of Light. For three evenings each year, Vancouver is host to one of the most spectacular fireworks competitions in the world.
Competitors from all over the globe gather to show off their pyrotechnics before an enormous and appreciative crowd in English Bay and the waterfront. Vancouver is already dazzling, but the sight of fireworks lighting up the skyline is awe-inspiring.
With the ambitious goal to be the world’s greenest city by 2020, Vancouver’s dedication to environmental conservation and sustainability is world-renowned.
In addition to bold initiatives and a measurable action plan that addresses environmental challenges, Vancouver plans to implement a public bike share system in 2015. It should come as no surprise that the city hosts ECO Fashion Week.
This event showcases the best in environmentally-friendly fashion in an attempt to educate industry professionals and consumers alike on the art of sustainable clothing. Since the clothing and textile industry is the third most environmentally harmful on Earth, this is important work and Vancouver is leading the way.
The Punjabi Market is a perfect example of one of the international flavors present throughout this cosmopolitan city.
The market is a result of an influx of immigrants from India’s Punjab region that occurred in the 1970’s, and the neighbourhood now occupies about six blocks of downtown Vancouver. The area has some of the best curry and most beautiful goods out of any shopping district in the city, as well as many cultural events.
Vancouver also contains Canada’s largest Chinatown, a vibrant cultural and heritage neighbourhood covering 11 city blocks (29 acres). 168 commercial properties and 419 businesses can be found in Chinatown’s 1.5 million square feet of commercial area and over 400,000 sq. ft. of residential area, and growing.
The Chinatown Business Improvement Area (BIA) The BIA contains mostly one- and two-storey commercial/residential buildings, many of which date back to the early 20th century, as well as the several larger commercial developments such as the Chinatown Plaza.
Importantly, the growing residential development around the BIA also contributes to increasing opportunities for new businesses catering to more westernized needs, complementing the existing and popular specialty food stores, restaurants, and herbal health product outlets. 9
The Vancouver Aquarium
An undersea fantasy world built for the lovers of all life aquatic, The Vancouver Aquarium is a non-profit society dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life.
Home to over 70,000 species including beluga whales, dolphins, otters, a giant octopus and anacondas, The Aquarium fits in perfectly with Vancouver’s environmentally conscious identity.
Animal encounters can be arranged for students interested in interacting with whales, seals, otters or dolphins. The aquarium is maintained by 400 staff members, but relies heavily on support from about 1000 volunteers every year; Students interested in volunteering can visit the Vancouver Aquarium website.
Parks and Recreation
Grouse Mountain, located in North Vancouver, is one of the most popular hikes and enjoyed as a fitness challenge as it is a steep hike straight up the mountain. Only half an hour from downtown Vancouver, Grouse offers ski and snowboard lessons and rentals during the winter, as well as snowshoeing and cultural events.
During the summer, the mountaintop is turned into a zip line facility that lets visitors soar 200 feet above the treetops with only a safety harness and the rushing wind for company. Other activities include a delightful lumberjack show, many opportunities to experience the wildlife of the park first hand, paragliding, helicopter tours and hiking trails.
A popular destination with the locals for hiking and experiencing what the lush coastal wilderness has to offer, Lynn Canyon’s is a great destination. Its forest is made up of trees that are largely between 80 and 100 years old. High above the canyon itself is the suspension bridge, swinging rhythmically 50 meters from the raging river below. Beyond the canyon, visitors can enjoy waterfalls and swim in the jewel-toned pools that serve as swimming holes.
All of these locations are easily accessible by public transit. All of these amenities are easily accessible, as Vancouver has one of Canada’s best public transportation systems in the country.
For more information about all the fun things you can do in Vancouver, explore further here.