During May, antsy Vancouverites head out and take part in all the hallmarks of the upcoming, sweet summer season, when the town glows and every visitor falls in love and eyes beachfront condo prices.
Where do I begin? May kicks off with the highly-anticipated Spot Prawn Festival in honour of our plump, coastal crustaceans. Add to that the return of the buzzy Chinatown Summer Night Market, plus a new Richmond Night Market, a Bard on the Beach bash for Bill’s b-day and the Victoria Day long weekend. There’s no doubt: sunny, lazy beach season is soon here.
Here are 20 unmissable Vancouver events to help you plan your May agenda.
20 Unmissable May Events
1) ENTERTAINMENT | Vancouver Opera’s Aida | May 3 |
It’s the The Vancouver Opera season finale at Queen Elizabeth Theatre. Catch Verdi’s grandest work, Aida, set amidst the opulence of ancient Egypt. Expect warring nations, mysterious priests and star crossed lovers.
2) EVENT | Bill’s Birthday Bash by Bard on the Beach | May 3 |
Celebrate “Bill” Shakespeare’s birthday at this annual fundraiser by Bard on the Beach – the legendary beachfront Shakespeare festival that runs June 7 – September 22, 2012. This year, instead of breakfast with the Bard, toast the old man with a glass of bubbly and a slice of cake at an evening event, when the 2012 artistic team and company shares their insights for productions of The Taming of the Shrew, Macbeth, The Merry Wives of Windsor and King John.
3) ENTERTAINMENT | Vancouver International Burlesque Festival | May 3 – 6 |Titillating. Scintillating. Subversive. Tongue in cheek. Pasties? The 7th Annual Vancouver International Burlesque Festival is back for 3-days of burlesque including night performances by Seattle’s Miss Indigo Blue, as well as classes with burlesque starlets, fashion shows, parties and workshops.
4) EVENT | explorASIAN Festival 2012 | May 4 – May 25 |
May is Asian Heritage Month which means the annual explorASIAN Festival returns to Vancouver for a month of fantastic Asian arts and cultural events. Check out Dana’s post to learn more about the packed program including films, dance and kids’ events.
5) ENTERTAINMENT | DOXA Documentary Film Festival | May 4 – May 13 |
Forget blockbusters. This annual festival is for thinkers, questioners and smarty pants. DOXA offers a unique chance to see over 100 documentaries from Canada and abroad. In 2012, “Themes range from the Arab Spring and dissidence in China to sex workers, psychedelic drugs and grizzly bears,” says Remy. Read his full post here.
6) FOOD | BC Spot Prawn Festival | May 5 |
There are two kinds of giant prawns. The scary, walking and talking kind – featured in District 9 – and BC’s own sweet, succulent spot prawns caught off the coast in May. The spot prawn season kicks off with a foodie festival with fresh-off-the boat prawns, live music and celebrity chefs.
7) ENTERTAINMENT | Bon Iver at Deer Lake Park | May 5 |
The universally-loved, American folk band led by Justin Vernon will fill Burnaby’s Deer Lake with an eerie falsetto set to “rustic chamber pop.”
8) FOOD | Pop-up Brunch at Le Marche St. George | May 6 |
Pop up restaurants offer an intimate, fun and innovative dining experience. They make diners feel like they’re part of a secret club, well…because they are. You have only days to find out about an event and get there before it’s gone. Chef Owen Lightly of Butter on the Endive catering brings his talents to Le Marche for a walk-in, pop up brunch including two kinds of breakfast sandwiches and some surprise menu items. The suggested donation is $8 to $12.
9) SPORTS | BMO Vancouver Marathon | May 6 |
Months of training will finally pay off for devoted joggers, walkers and wheelchair participants on this annual 42.2 km scenic loop (or half marathon) around Vancouver’s finest viewpoints.
10) SHOPPING | Got Craft? | May 6 |
A crafty, DIY bonanza – precisely the sort East Van is known for – with over 55 vendors. Head to Commercial Drive to shop for jewellery, art, fashion, kids toys, accessories…you name it, someone’s made it.
11) ENTERTAINMENT | Visions of Enlightenment: Buddhist Art at MOA | May 10 – Sept. 30 | MOA launches their enlightening exhibition of Buddhist Art May 10, with a party that’s open to the public. The exhibition uses a range of media (sculptures, scrolls, paintings, textiles) to showcase basic Buddhist concepts and images.
12) GREEN CITY | EPIC: The Vancouver Sustainable Living Expo | May 11 – 13 |
This Vancouver Convention Centre event is greener than a leprechaun dancing in a bowl of spinach while reading David Suzuki policy statements. Learn all about sustainable consumer options for a greener lifestyle via lectures, product samples, workshops and more.
13) EVENT | Art in the City | May 11 – 13 |
Purchase art in any medium (drawing, painting, photography, pottery, sculpture) at this family friendly West End show and sale that’s been going strong for the last seven years.
14) EVENT | Mother’s Day | May 13 |
This is the day to honour mums and grandmums. Brunch them, lunch them, wine and dine them. Drop flowers at their feet. Offer back rubs. Whatever family tradition will please. Here’s Dana’s list of top Mother’s Day brunches in Vancouver to help you plan.
15) EVENT | Tinhorn Creek‘s Wine Tasting with a Social Twist | May 16 |
Tinhorn Creek Winemaker and CEO Sandra Oldfield will host Wine Tasting with a Social Twist at the Vancouver Urban Winery where guests will enjoy an evening of wine, food and plenty of Twitter activity. The event is structured as brown bag tasting meets speed dating, with a fast paced tasting of nine different Tinhorn Creek wines, followed by light canapés and a guided unveiling of wines. After all, who doesn’t tweet during blind dates?
16) EVENT | Vancouver Craft Beer Week | May 18 – May 26 |
Raise those beer steins high! This 9-day, packed line up of craft beer events is more about brewing rock stars than fermentation geeks. You can read my picks for top Craft Beer Week Events here.
17) EVENT | Richmond Night Market | May 18 – Oct. 8 |
This new summer market (by River Rock Casino) is a welcome addition to Richmond’s annual Summer Night Market (on Vulcan Way), adding 88 vendors serving authentic Asian cuisine, plus more than 200 vendors selling merchandise. It’s open Fridays and Saturdays from 7 p.m. to midnight and Sundays from 6 p.m. to 11 p.m.
18) EVENT | Chinatown Night Market | May 19 – Sept. 9 |
Vancouverites lie in wait for the Chinatown Night Market (Fridays, Saturdays & Sundays) which symbolizes the soft start to our summer season with food, food, more food, snacks and traditional Asian handicrafts alongside electronics and puzzling displays of “popular music.”
19) SPORT | Bike to Work Week | May 28 – June 1 |
If you ever skipped biking due to a little rain (piffle! ) here’s your chance to redeem yourself and your coworkers. The Vancouver Area Cycling Coalition (VACC) kicks off Bike Month with this initiative featuring bike commuter seminars, refuel stations and a handy web bike logging tool.
20) ENTERTAINMENT | Vancouver International Children’s Festival | May 29 – June 3 | Celebrate storytelling at the world-renowned, Granville Island festival of performing arts for youth that’s been going strong since 1978. The festival boasts theatre, dance, music, thrilling acrobatics, enchanting puppetry – basically all the props that make listening magical.
BONUS HOLIDAY | Victoria Day | May 21|
Let the summer road trips begin on the first long weekend suited for balmy travel with the windows down. While it’s not quite bikini season, it’s undoubtedly ripe for picnics, taking a cruiser along the seawall, sail boating…whatever sunny adventures you so desire.