Ten Cool Spots to Enjoy (Mostly) Free Live Music in Vancouver

Photo credit: www.anniebecker.com

Photo credit: www.anniebecker.com

Vancouver has a fabulous live music scene that you don’t have to pay inflated ticket prices to enjoy. Rhythm-loving lobby lounges, bars and restaurants across the city have plenty of regular music events all you need do is pull up a stool and order a drink (and maybe a few nibbles). Whether you’re looking to check out the latest hot talent, enjoy some cool jazz, roots ‘n’ reggae or check out some classic tinkling of the ivories, no matter what night of the week it is, you’re likely to find something to get your toes tapping. 

Photo Credit: Fairmont Pacific Rim

Photo Credit: Fairmont Pacific Rim

Fairmont Pacific Rim

As well as boasting Canada’s award-winning entrant to Diageo’s World Class bartender competition, Grant Sceney, on drink duties, the Lobby Lounge also is the place to be for live music from Monday till Saturday. Offering a packed schedule of local artists rocking popular covers and their original creations on piano or guitar, there are three sets each day, from 3-5pm, 5-7pm and 7-11pm. On Friday and Saturday they play late from 9pm-1am. Check out who’s playing on the calendar here.


Gastown’s Calabash Caribbean Bistro serves up everything from soulful pop and live jazz to indie, roots and reggae every Tuesday through till Sunday. They get some big names playing, including Island Vocalist of the Year, Annie Becker. Most nights are free, but check as some do charge, however 100% of the cover goes to the performer, so c’mon, share the love!


If you like your tunes to be on the chilled folksy side, then head to Yaletown on a Thursday and check out the Loft at Earls where you’ll find Colin Bullock playing soft rock ballads on guitar and harmonica between 7-10pm.

Photo credit: Tom Quirk

Revel Room. Photo credit: Tom Quirk

Revel Room

Gastown’s legendary Revel Room keeps things groovy between Tuesdays and Sundays with a full programme of live music covering everything Rockabilly and Texas swing to Country and Blues. From 4-6pm, Mike Van Eyes plays Boogie Woogie piano to accompany the Happy Hour.

Steel Toad Brewpub and Dining Hall

New brewery on the block, Steel Toad is rocking out on East 2nd and making live music a priority every night of the week. Check out their calendar of events and enjoy that classic, can’t-go-wrong pairing of craft brews and good music.

Fairmont Waterfront

Cruise down by Canada Place to the Fairmont Waterfront who have live music in their ARC restaurant and bar every Thursday through till Saturday from 5-9pm. Local singer/songwriters perform on rotation here and you can find the calendar of artists here. Make it an extra thrifty night by going early and catching their 5-7pm daily Happy Hour.

Photo Credit: Pan Pacific Hotel

Photo Credit: Pan Pacific Hotel

Pan Pacific Hotel

Try something a little different from the usual folk or rock singer/songwriter routine at the Pan Pacific’s Saturday night opera buffet dinner. They feature singers from the Burnaby Lyric Opera and operatic tenor, Edd Wright. If opera doesn’t float your boat, then try any other night as you’ll find everything from piano lounge music to indie songstresses.


Friday night is the night for live music with Alex Maher upstairs at the Blackbird on Dunsmuir. One man super-cool music machine, Alex plays guitar, sax and beatbox blasting out everything from old school R&B and hip hop to indie/alt stompers. Expect everyone from suits blowing off steam to office workers and students at this fun start to the weekend which kicks off pleasingly early at 5pm till 8pm, then a DJ takes over.

Shangri-La Xi Shi Lounge

Shangri-La’s Xi Shi Lounge has free live entertainment and DJs seven days a week from 5-7pm. For something special check out their resident pianist Perry Dickison who plays their Fazioli piano every Friday, Saturday and Sunday from 1-4:30pm to accompany afternoon tea. Perry even takes guest requests and you can see who’s playing each night here.

Photo credit: Jesse Cahill

Photo credit: Jesse Cahill

Uva Wine and Cocktail Bar

Take some friends, grab a booth, order up a cocktail from the award-winning team behind the bar and let the good times roll in a 1930s Cabaret style every Saturday night at UVA from 9pm till midnight when the James Danderfer Trio play cool jazz standards and original compositions.

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