Vancouver summers bring the city to life, bringing together the best of BC’s natural landscape, patio scene, live music, and more. And with so many exciting festivals and events coming up, saving money isn’t always the priority. But fortunately, some of the best out there are either completely free to attend, or seriously cheap when compared to events of the same calibre. So with that in mind, here are 15 of the best free and cheap things to do around Vancouver this July.
Who’s ready for a summer concert on the water? A mobile concert series is setting sail this July, and it’s coming to Jericho Beach (Iy̓ál̓mexw, ʔəy̓alməxʷ). Slated to perform at Festival Afloat 2023 are returning artists like Juno-nominee Desirée Dawson and Renee Layla, who guests can paddle out to listen to or enjoy from the beach. As well, there will be some new performers in the mix – so stay tuned!
When: July 9th
Where: Jericho Beach
Cost: Tickets are by-donation
The Chinese Cultural Centre of Greater Vancouver presents “Chow Down Chinatown,” a chance for Vancouver residents to order takeout from any Chinatown eatery they desire, and bring it to a free show and evening of Kung Fu Movies, Sax with Eric and Chynatruckerfunk.
When: Friday, July 14th
Where: 50 East Pender Street
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Picture this. You’re laying on a picnic blanket in the middle of summer. The sun is shining, the air is breezy and full of fragrant flowers – and the sounds of violin strings in a beautiful symphony. Yes, we’re talking about Symphony in the Park! On July 15th, the 34th-anniversary performance will take over Deer Lake Park in Burnaby.
When: July 15th
Where: 6450 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby
We’re starting off with a bang. Every year, the beloved Honda Celebration of Light draws thousands of local and international visitors every year, and this summer will be no exception. This year’s competition will kick off with representation from Australia (Howard & Sons Pyrotechnics) on Saturday, July 22nd, followed by Mexico (Grupo Avacon) on Wednesday, July 26th and The Philippines (Blue Peacock Fireworks) on Saturday, July 29th.
When: July 22nd, July 26th, and July 29th
Where: English Bay
Thanks to a new partnership with BMO, the Vancouver Art Gallery has launched free admission to the public on the first Friday of every month, from 4 pm to 8 pm. The next free Friday night will be on July 7th – so mark your calendars and get ready to enjoy some after-work art!
When: Friday, July 7th and every first Friday of the month
Where: 750 Hornby Street
The beloved Shipyards Night Market is now in its prime after a three-year hiatus, and there are plenty of summer dates to check out for it’s 10th anniversary. Visitors can once again enjoy their iconic beer garden and outdoor market, and peruse the many mouthwatering food trucks in attendance. As well, the market is bringing back live music and DJs – so consider your Friday night plans made.
When: Every Friday from May 12th to September 15th
Where: The Shipyards, North Vancouver
Speaking of night markets, it’s always worth a visit to the Richmond Night Market if you’re feeling snacky and want to expand your culinary palate. And no, good eats don’t have to be expensive!
When: Any weekend in July
Where: 8351 River Road, Richmond
The Nitobe Memorial Japanese Garden has reopened for the spring! Located at UBC, this incredible garden prompted the former Japanese Emperor to say “I am in Japan” during a visit. If that’s not a mark of authenticity, then we don’t know what is. Plus, admission is just $5 per person.
When: Open throughout the spring
Where: 1895 Lower Mall, UBC
Cost: $5 per person
Whether it’s Thursday night Deckchair Cinema on Cates Deck (June 29th to August 31st) or Sunset Cinema at The Shipyards Commons, there are plenty of outdoor movies to check out this summer – and all of them are free to watch! Below are the film screenings happening via Deckchair Cinema this July:
- July 6th – Interstellar 5555, 9:30 pm
- July 13th – What We Do In The Shadows, 9:15 pm
- July 20th – Whale Rider, 9:15 pm – Celebrating Squamish Amalgamation Day
- July 27th – Big Trouble In Little China, 9 pm
When: Multiple dates this July
Where: Cates Deck, North Vancouver
Cost: Free admission
One of the nicest parks in North America, in the middle of Vancouver, and it’s one of the cheapest golfing options around? Great for those just starting out, or if you’ve got a couple of hours free and just want to mess around a little bit.
Where: Stanley Park, Vancouver
Cost: $15.12 for 18 holes
You may have noticed that a bunch of farmers’ markets have started popping up this spring, why not stop by a couple? The Sunday market at the Kitsilano Community Centre just started on May 1st, and the Mount Pleasant market will open on May 22nd. Load up on some fresh produce and get to know the vendors!
If Saturday markets are more your thing, the markets at Trout Lake and Riley Park are both already up and running.
Where: Locations around Vancouver
You’re never too old (or young) to learn, and there are a ton of classes at the Vancouver Public Library that prove exactly that. From sound editing to STEAM (science, technology, art, engineering, and math) courses for kids, there are plenty of options to fit any age or skill set. Best of all? All of them are free to attend!
Where: Branches across Vancouver
If you’re looking for a way to hang with your friends outdoors in a socially distanced manner then disc golf might just be for you. And what’s even better is that the course at Queen Elizabeth Park is completely free! So grab a frisbee and your friends and try it out.
Where: 33rd Avenue and Cambie Street
It’s officially baseball season, and the Vancouver Canadians have returned to Nat Bailey Stadium. This month, they’re up against the Spokane Indians, Eugene Emeralds, and the Everett AquaSox.
When: Games throughout July
Where: 4601 Ontario Street
No gym pass, no problem. The sun is out and here to stay, so it’s the opportune time for outdoor workouts! Thankfully, there are plenty of parks in Vancouver with exercise equipment you can use for free.
Where: See our picks above
So there you have it, Vancouver. If you’re looking to stay on a tighter budget this month, there’s still plenty of fun to be had!