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5 Free Vancouver Summer Date Night Ideas

Tuesday, July 26th, 2016 — 9:45am PDT
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It doesn’t take a lot of money, or even effort, to enjoy some great summer activities in Vancouver on date night. When John and I first courted, mind you we were traveling between Vancouver and Iowa every few weeks, the best things about each of our cities that we loved showing off to each other were usually the free things. Walks by the river and sunset strolls on the Sea Wall were our favourite but if you’re looking for a bit more to do with your sweetie, here are 5 Free Vancouver Summer Date Night Ideas:


Sunday Afternoon Salsa

Enjoy free dancing, dance lessons, and dance shows right under bustling Robson Street at Sunday Afternoon Salsa. Robson Square vibes with great music as you are invited to take a free beginner salsa dance lesson with some of Vancouver’s best instructors. This is followed by a dance show and social dance. After the lessons and performances, hundreds of salsa dancers, young and old, join in the fun. Sunday Afternoon Salsa is open to everyone.

Kitsilano Showboat

Now in it 81st season, Kitsilano Showboat is a Vancouver tradition! Free performances on Mondays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays round out your day at the beach with beautiful sunset and city backdrops. It runs from June to August, with live entertainment that is diverse and vibrant. Tango, country dance, performing arts, orchestra, chorus, violin, brass, and much more. All programs start at 7:00pm and the Kitsilano Showboat is free to enjoy but donations are very welcome.

Stanley Park Trails

Go for a Hike

You can start small by exploring some of the 25km of trails within Stanley Park (and popping into the Stanley Park Nature House for a free info session) or amp up your date day experience. Hike Quarry Rock near Deep Cove for some great views (followed by a dip in the water), get some Instagram-worthy shots with a waterfall hike, or go bigger with a St Mark’s Summit hike.

Free Outdoor Movies in the Park

Fresh Air Cinema hosts dozens of free outdoor movies nights across the province each summer, usually from July to September. In Vancouver, there are movie nights at Second Beach in Stanley Park, the perfect way to cap off a picnic in the park, or date day on the beach.

Celebration of Light Fireworks - Italy

Free Summer Festivals

Earlier in the summer there’s the free Khatsahlano Street Party, Car Free Day, Italian Day on the Drive, and Canada Day festivities, and Latin American Week in Vancouver.

There’s also the Honda Celebration of Light fireworks festival, with free SHOREfest concerts, and coming up in August, the Vancouver Mural Festival will have a free concert (with Hey Ocean! Willa and The Katherines). Pride Week will also include several free events including the Vancouver Pride Parade and Sunset Beach Festival.

You can also win your way into some great events by following Miss604 contests and subscribing to my weekend events newsletter.

Vancouver Pride Parade 2016

Monday, July 25th, 2016 — 11:32am PDT
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The 38th Vancouver Pride Parade takes place on Sunday, as the West End welcomes one of the most beautiful and diverse parades in the world. Every year this celebration attracts hundreds of thousands of spectators, young and old, and is renowned on the international stage as one of the largest and most successful LGBTQ2+ events on the globe.


Vancouver Pride Parade 2016

Where: Downtown Vancouver along Robson, Denman, Beach Ave
When: Sunday, July 31st from 12:00pm to 3:00pm
Road Closures: Robson closures starting at 7:00am, Denman closes at 10:30am, Beach Ave closes at 11:00am

Vancouver Pride Parade 2010

Spectator Tips

  • It’s always HOT! Be sure to stay hydrated, wear sunscreen, a hat, etc.
  • Do not throw items or spray water at parade participants
  • Parking along the Parade route is extremely limited so leave your car at home and take transit to the Parade
  • Stay off road, let marchers come to you to get free swag and take photos from the side

Keep the fun going at the Pride Festival at Sunset Beach, where the parade ends up, starting at 11:00am. Enjoy even more Vancouver Pride events throughout the week by checking out the calendar, and other festivities like the Davie Street Block Party on Friday, July 29th.

Vancouver Pride Parade 2010

Follow the Vancouver Pride Society on Twitter and Facebook for more information, and tag your social posts with #VanPride16.

Food at the PNE This Year

Monday, July 25th, 2016 — 10:22am PDT
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Scones and mini pizzas were the highlight of our family’s culinary adventure at the Fair at the PNE when I was growing up. In my teenage years it was fried onions and burgers. The mini donuts have stood the test of time and in recent years it’s all been about the wackiest, most indulgent, state fair inspired eats you can find.

1976. Food concession at the PNE. Archives# CVA 180-7296.

Food at the PNE This Year

“We’re proud to present these new food and beverage offerings for the 2016 Fair at the PNE,” says Pete Male, Vice President of Sales at Pacific National Exhibition. “Our team has searched across the continent for the most insane and outrageous snacks we can find because food is an important part of the Fair experience. We think attendees are going to love what they see when they come to The Fair at the PNE.”

August 20th to September 5, 2016


There’s something for everyone this year. If you like mash-ups of popular snacks and flavours, if you’re looking to go big, or if you like twists on original fair foods.

Mac N Cheese Stuffed Burger, a hand-made beef burger patty that’s stuffed with creamy mac and cheese and topped with classic burger toppings. There’s also Gourmet Burger’s 10lb Burger, The Hercules Burger, for those looking for a challenge — and enough to feed you and your friends.

The Big Pickle Corn Dog is a deep fried pickle stuffed with a wiener, and again if you’re looking to level up, try the Biggest Baddest Brat, which is 12 inches of locally crafted Bratwurst.

Butter Chicken Fries, with golden, crispy French fries are topped with delicious Indian butter chicken sauce. Teriyaki Chicken Perogies will also be offered for fairgoers to enjoy this year. These bite size cheddar and potato perogies are lightly pan fried with butter and given a Teriyaki twist.

Mini Donut Ice Pops combine mini donuts with delicious frozen dulce caramel cream and cinnamon, creating the perfect frozen treat on a stick.

Try bacon candy floss, a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup sandwiched between two Oreos, a Deep Fried Oreo Milkshake, Oreo Funnel Cake, Oreo Churros, and even Oreo Rice Pudding.

There will also be Deep Fried Tequila Shot Bites, with fried tequila flavoured cake bites topped off with icing sugar. Salted Caramel Deep Fried Coffee is fresh deep-fried coffee treats drizzled in caramel and Himalayan sea salt.

Check out the food lineup, including the lighter side of fair eating, and plan your trip to the PNE this summer. Sign up for the Donut Dash 5K on August 21st to burn off some calories while you also enjoy tasty treats throughout the course. Follow the Fair at the PNE on Facebook and Twitter for more information.

Related: PNE Concert Series 2016.

The First Public Garden in Vancouver

Sunday, July 24th, 2016 — 9:21am PDT
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The first public garden in Vancouver was once buried and forgotten, until the storm that decimated the park in 2006 unearthed its history. It’s the Stanley Park Rock Garden was laid out in 1911, the same year that the quarry that would become Queen Elizabeth Park was closed.

The First Public Garden in Vancouver

The Stanley Park Rock Garden

Stanley Park

In 1911, three years after arriving in Vancouver, Scottish born John Montgomery began laying out the Stanley Park rock garden using boulders and rocks left over from the construction of the Stanley Park pavilion. Mr. Montgomery worked continuously on his creation until his death in 1920.

The rock garden would eventually span almost a mile in length as it wound its way from the Park’s entrance up to and beyond the Pavilion. With its rustic arbors, benches, rock lined pathways featuring “almost every kind of rock plant, flower, water lily and various flowering shrubs” the garden was one of the prime attractions in the park. Tourist publications heralded the garden for its beauty and it was a popular postcard subject.

1922. Stanley Park Pavilion & Rock Garden. Archives# St Pk N60.

The garden surrounds the rustic chateau-stye Stanley Park Pavilion, designed by Otto Moberg and completed in 1912. The landscape plan included an expanse of lawn, ornamental plantings, lily pond, pathways and a substantial bandstand – now demolished.

1936. Stanley Park Pavilion & Rock Garden. Archives# St Pk N55.

From the Sunday Province, 1927: So cleverly, so carefully, has the rock garden been built, grounded with greenery of tender plants and fern-like wild ones. There, one will notice, things are planted in longish drifts, and not in clumps or patches, the length of the drift going with the natural stratification. Again, as the season advances, one will notice the further care in selecting the plants whose colours will harmonize with the corner of the rockery to which they have been assigned.

The garden was all but forgotten by the 1950s and only recently rediscovered, 50 years later.

Stanley Park

“It took him nine years to build it, and it took me nine years to bring it back,” Montgomery’s descendant, Chris Hay, told Global BC in 2013. the Stanley Park Rock Garden was designated one of Vancouver’s “Places That Matter” during the city’s 125th anniversary celebrations.

Stanley Park

Stanley Park

The plaque, tucked just around the east side of the pavilion reads: “The first public garden of the city was created from 1911 to 1920 by master gardener John Montgomery from unwanted boulders excavated for the adjacent park pavilion. Stretching from Pipeline Road to Coal Harbour this early park attraction had by the early 1950’s become partially abandoned, its story forgotten until revealed by the devastating windstorm of December 15, 2006.”

Stanley Park

Thanks to the efforts of Chris Hay, the Vancouver Heritage Foundation, the Vancouver Park Board and various levels of government, it is unlikely that the Stanley Park Rock Garden will be lost again.

Vancouver Fireworks Photos Netherlands Night 1

Sunday, July 24th, 2016 — 8:50am PDT
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The Honda Celebration of Light kicked off its 26th year in Vancouver on Saturday, July 23rd as Royal Fireworks, representing Netherlands, dazzled almost half a million spectators on the shores and waters of English Bay.

Vancouver Fireworks Photos

Netherlands Night 1
Thanks to those who shared their photos with the Miss604 Flickr Pool, #Photos604 on Instagram, and Twitter, here’s a sample of what it was like last night:

A photo posted by Wilson Wong (@wilsonnwong) on

Honda Celebration of Light 2016 - Vancouver BC  Night 1 - Team Netherlands

Honda Celebration of Light 2016 - Vancouver BC Night 1  Team Netherlands


Honda Celebration of Light 2016 - Vancouver BC  Night 1 - Team Netherlands.

Up next is Howard’s Fireworks, representing Australia (July 27, 2016) and Walt Disney Entertainment, representing United States (July 30, 2016). Follow the Honda Celebration of Light on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram for more information.

Iona Beach Regional Park

Saturday, July 23rd, 2016 — 12:42pm PDT
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There are so many beautiful beaches around Vancouver, each with its own features, amenities, and scenery. Iona Beach Regional Park is unique in that the park, with beach, includes 13km of hiking trails, 3km of horseback riding trails, and 4km of cycling trails. Pinched between the Fraser River outlets to the Salish Sea, between Richmond and Vancouver, it offers riverfront and seaside views like nowhere else in the region.


Sunday Afternoon at Iona Beach

High Tide at Iona Beach

Tugboat on the North Arm of Fraser River

Watch planes land at YVR airport next door, walk out along one of the jetties, watch sunsets from the sand dunes, sit around a firepit, take some Instagram-worthy photos of wildlife at the wetlands. More than 300 species of birds feed and rest at Iona Beach Regional Park so while dogs are welcome, they need to remain on leash.

4KM Pipeline

Sunset at Iona Beach, Vancouver

Somewhere in time


"Iona Beach at Low-tide"

Metro Vancouver Regional Parks are hosting a photo contest this summer and there’s still time to enter to win. Follow along on Facebook and Twitter for more information.