If you’re looking for some fun to have in and around the city this month without breaking the bank, we feel you. And we’ve got some great options to toss your way that will keep the summer fun going a bit longer. So with that in mind, here are 14 of the best free and cheap things to do in and around Vancouver this September.

Car Free Day Vancouver 

Love street festivals and perusing food vendors? Read on! Much like the popular Car Free Day Surrey, Vancouver will soon be getting three of its own, with each community-wide festival taking place in a different neighbourhood. And visitors can expect to enjoy a ton of local eats, live entertainment, and cultural programming.

Below are the dates and locations for this year’s Car Free Days:

  • Commercial Drive (North Grandview Highway to 1st Avenue) – September 9th
  • Main Street (10th Avenue to King Edward Avenue) – September 16th
  • West End- Denman (Davie Street to Robson Street) – September 24th

Note that each festival will take place from noon until 7 pm.

When: September 9th, 16th, and 24th
Where: Commercial Drive, Main Street, West End

Light Up Chinatown!


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Now in its third year, Light Up Chinatown offers visitors the chance to roam the historic neighbourhood and indulge in local food collaborations, enjoy live music, and experience a special pop-up event bringing together esteemed restauranteurs.

As well, the event will be fully licensed for the first time this year, allowing guests who are 19+ to sip on some beer, wine, or spirits inside the festival grounds.

When: Saturday, September 9th and Sunday, September 10th
Where: 500 block of Columbia Street
Cost: Free admission

Vancouver Etsy Co – Fall Pop-Up Market 

Looking ahead to the end of the month: Get ready to ring in the new season with a ton of handcrafted gifts, pottery, jewelry, fall decor, and more – by over 90 local makers and artists. The Vancouver Etsy Co fall pop-up market is back from 10 am to 5 pm on Saturday, September 23rd at Robson Square.

When: Saturday, September 23rd
Where: 800 Robson Street
Cost: Free admission

Harrison Sunflower Festival


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Formerly the Chilliwack Sunflower Festival (and the Chilliwack Tulip Fest), the new Harrison Sunflower Festival is set to open at Onos Farms and Festivals in Agassiz, near Harrison Hot Springs. Visitors will be able to peruse the 45 varieties of sunflowers and summer blooms starting Friday, August 25th and will extend to September 17th.

In addition to three kilometres of winding pathways and 20 acres of scenic backdrops, visitors can experience the new U-Pick field and curate their own bouquets from five different varieties of sunflowers.

When: Friday, August 25th to September 17th
Where: Agassiz, BC
Cost: $15 to $20

Langley Good Times Cruise-In


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This one’s not free, but it’s for a great cause. The beloved Langley Good Times Cruise-In is bringing back its popular In N’ Out pop-up, which means you can load up on animal-style fries, check out some retro cars, and support local charities all at once.

Tickets can be purchased for $30 in person before or at 8 am at the Aldergrove Community Secondary School. Those interested in participating in the retro Cruise-In can register online.

When: Saturday, September 10th
Where: 26850 29 Avenue, Aldergrove

Check out a corn maze 

Whether it’s a visit to Canada’s first corn maze in Chilliwack or Taves Family Farms in Abbotsford, there are a handful of fun corn mazes and accompanying early fall activities to enjoy this month, including apple picking and hayrides!

Where: See our picks above

Richmond Night Market

Open every weekend until October 9th, there’s still plenty of time to check out North America’s largest outdoor market. From candy sticks to boba, to customizable noodles, there are plenty of unique eats and drinks to enjoy here. Plus, for the first time ever, the food fair features churros and butter beer, in addition to the debut of foods from Indonesia, Turkey, and Mexico. In total, there are over 110 food booths and a menu of over 600 different treats to choose from.

The market is open from 7 pm to 12 am on Fridays, from 6 pm on Saturdays, and from 6:30 pm to 11 pm on Sundays.

When: Every weekend until October 9th
Where: 8351 River Road, Richmond

Explore the Nanaimo Bar Trail

We think the history of the Nanaimo bar in BC is as fascinating as it is delicious. And if you agree, you can go on this self-guided tour of Vancouver Island’s most unique Nanaimo bar-inspired treats, which includes ice cream, savoury bites, and even fancy drinks. Assuming you indulge in one treat per cafe or restaurant, this unique experience won’t cost your wallet too much!

Where: See locations above

Check out a patio happy hour

It probably goes without saying that patio hopping is a must this month, but we know it’s easy to rack up quite the bill. Thankfully, there are a ton of stunning patios with equally amazing happy hours to take advantage of, so why not keep the summer vibes going a little while longer?

Where: Check out our picks above

Free nights at Vancouver Art Gallery 

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 September 1st  so mark your calendars and get ready to enjoy some after-work art!

When: Friday, September 1st and every first Friday of the month
Where: 750 Hornby Street

Visit the Polygon Gallery


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Speaking of art, if you enjoy interactive art programming, there’s always a visit to The Polygon in North Van. Visitors can check out Chester Fields’ Unsung until September 10th, and Jeremy Shaw’s Phase Shifting Index until September 24th.

When: Open throughout September
Where: 101 Carrie Cates Court
Cost: Admission by donation

Check out some dog parks

Thanks to this online interactive map of all the off-leash dog parks in Vancouver, you’ll never need to wonder where to let your canine friend roam free next. And if you don’t have any dogs, we think going for the sole intention of dog-watching is a great time too. After all, it doesn’t cost a thing to treat your furry friend to some quality outdoor time.

Where: Check out the online map above

Discover a hidden beach 

Whether you’re looking for a quieter alternative to Kits Beach or Ambleside – or just want to check out a lesser-known spot in BC, there are lots of beautiful hidden beaches scattered across Metro Vancouver to discover. And it doesn’t cost a thing to explore our beautiful province!

Where: See our picks above

Shipyards Live

Finally, we come to North Van’s recurring outdoor music fest and beer garden, which runs weekly on Friday nights at the Shipyards. Each week, Shipbuilders Square comes alive with the hustle and bustle of guests looking to enjoy live music and local brews at their beer garden.

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

So there you have it, Vancouver. If you’re looking to enjoy some end-of-summer fun without putting a dent in your wallet, you know where to look!