Vancouver in a Day: The PNE and Celebration of Light

Looking for some adventure? You’ve come to the right city. No matter what time of year, when you start your day in Vancouver, it can take you anywhere.

While we were filming during the Celebration of Light festival earlier this month, we had a visitor from Germany ask us what time of year was busiest for the city: the month of August or the beginning of the ski season later in the fall?

We answered August. The story on the mountains may be a little different, but there is no other time of the year when the streets and patios of Vancouver are so alive with people and the beaches that circle the city have to be seen in order to be believed.

Every year, the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) opens its gates at the end of August and hosts over 900,000 visitors over the course of its sixteen day run. From thrill seekers to animal lovers, it truly has something from everyone.

This year, the PNE is offering its 101st year of rides, concerts, shows, food stalls and agricultural exhibits. Our perennial favourites include the Revelation, wooden rollercoaster, mini donuts and the strongman game, but really, the best way to figure out what you like is to try everything!

The gates to the PNE close on September 5th, but Playland, the amusement park on the PNE grounds, is open every year from April to the end of September. Check their site for more information.

Another event you won’t want to miss in August is the Celebration of Light. This international fireworks competition is the grand dame of Vancouver’s summer event calendar, taking place over three separate nights at the end of July and beginning of August from a barge in English Bay.

Although Vancouver’s many beaches and high rises offer great vantage points, companies like BC Wake Boats offer guided firework boat packages that not only help you beat the crowds but see the pyrotechnics from the open water. This is an up close and personal way to see the show and was one of the most memorable experiences of our summer.

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