10 Free Things to Do in Vancouver in July

Caribbean Days. Photo credit: Trinidad & Tobago Cultural Society of BC

They say there’s no such thing as free lunch, but there are plenty of enticing, free Vancouver summer events to add to your July bucket list.

From free outdoor movies to free live music festivals and the highly anticipated Celebration of Light fireworks show, there’s something exciting going down every weekend that doesn’t require ticket coordination or plastic.  

10 Free Things to Do in Vancouver in July

1) Fresh Air Cinema at Second Beach in Stanley Park, through August 28
Catch cult favourites at the free outdoor summer movie series by Fresh Air Cinema, every Tuesday at Second Beach in Stanley Park. The show starts at dusk (around 9:20pm). It’s BYOB, wherein the last “B” stands for blanket. Zoolander plays Tuesday July 10, followed by Spaceballs on July 17. Check out the the entire summer schedule here. Bear in mind, bad weather means no show.

2) Free Vancouver Water Parks, through September 3
Who doesn’t love running through the sprinkler? Now multiply that by 100. Vancouver boasts not one, but two, free water parks. Granville Island Water Park happens to be the largest free water park in all of North America with all sorts of amusements from water slides to spray jets. Variety Kids Water Park in Stanley Park is also a convenient, free summer fun zone with ankle deep water, geysers and water canyons. Plus it’s conveniently close to the Second Beach pool and playground.

3) Hastings Summer Sunrise Festival, July 7
Has your kid ever tried the classic “Can I have a pony,” line? You can make their dream come true for at least one afternoon. Hastings Sunrise kicks of summer with their annual, family-friendly festival 10am to 4pm, July 7, in Sunrise Square Parking Lot.  Family fun includes pony rides, face painting, a petting zoo, street hockey, BBQ, and live entertainment.

4) Free Admission to the Burnaby Museum, through September 3
Burnaby Village Museum celebrates the 100th bday of their wooden carousel and interurban tram with free gate admission for the entire 2012 summer season. Families can explore the entire 10-acre, open-air 1920s village – with working blacksmith, costumed townspeople and authentic shops- free of charge. Don’t miss the Vaudeville shows every Sunday.

5) Khatsahlano! Music + Arts Festival, July 21
Khatsahlano! is one of the top free live music events of the summer season. Kitsilano’s annual neighbourhood summer festival offers a killer band line up, street food and work by local artisans. Curated by Zulu Records, the 30-band line-up includes local faves the Zolas, Kathryn Calder, Ladyhawk, Blackout Beach, the Dead Ghosts, Shearing Pinx, Weed, the High Drops, the Ballantynes and Capitol 6. The action takes place on stages along West 4th Avenue, 12pm-8pm, which will be closed to car traffic between Burrard and MacDonald.

6) Free ballroom dancing in Robson Square, through August 31
It’s all happening in Robson Square. On Fridays, join the immensely popular, free ballroom dancing drop-in lessons which start at 8pm. DanceSportBC offers instruction to singles, couples, friends and anyone who happens to wander by. At 9 and 10pm, they show off their own pro talents. Participants are welcome to stay on and dance the night away.

7) Free salsa dancing in Robson Square, through August 26
Robson’s fun, free salsa dancing events follow the same program as ballroom, only on Sundays. Each Sunday afternoon salsa event begins with beginner salsa lessons at 3pm (taught by top Vancouver salsa instructors), followed by dance demonstrations at 5pm from many of Vancouver’s best salsa dancers. Stick around for the open “social dancing” from 3:30pm – 7pm., which attracts hundreds of Vancouverites of all ages.

8) Honda Celebration of Light Fireworks and live music at SHOREfest, July 28; August 1; August 4
Free pyrotechnics and free concerts in one go? It seems too good to be true. That’s why the annual Celebration of Light (July 28; August 1; August 4) – the world’s largest offshore fireworks competition – is a highly-anticipated Vancouver summer tradition. Vancouverites and visitors head down to Vancouver’s waterfront early to snag a prime viewing spot to watch Vietnam, Brazil and Italy compete for best fireworks. While the light show doesn’t launch until 10, SHOREfest’s live concert series (by SHORE 104.3 FM) at Sunset Beach and English Bay fire up the crowd with pre-event concerts by outstanding Canadian bands.

9) Caribbean Days Festival, July 28-29
Get your fill of tropical rhythm, carnival, culture and food at this two-day free event. North Van hosts the 25th annual celebration of Caribbean culture in Waterfront Park. The event line up includes a Caribbean boat cruise, a parade, live music, dancing, a food fair and an art/clothing market.

10) Still looking for more? Peruse our list of 20 Unmissable Vancouver Events in July 2012!

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