By Tess van Straaten
Monday Magazine columnist
There’s nothing quite like a perfect summer day in Vancouver. The sun is shining and the water is glistening, people are strolling and biking along the seawall, and the whole city seems to sparkle.
I’m watching the action from the water, as we drop anchor in English Bay and wait for the sky to explode in colour.
|Tess Van Straaten|
The Honda Celebration of Light is about to begin and it’s one of my favourite Vancouver festivals. The musical fireworks competition, which began in 1990, is all about sparking fun. It’s now B.C.’s largest live event and this summer will see a thrilling lineup of pyrotechnic performers from India, Canada and Croatia mesmerize the crowds as well as jam-packed days of free live music, food trucks and different dining options before each show.
You can also catch world-class theatre along the stunning backdrop of the sea and mountains. With four plays invoking laughter, love, magic, music, rebellion and reunions, the Bard on the Beach Shakespeare festival is celebrating its 30th season this year.
“It’s become the thing to do in the summer in Vancouver for locals and visitors,” says Bard on the Beach artistic director Christopher Gaze. “There’s nothing else quite like it in the world.”
With tents set up in Vanier Park overlooking English Bay, the casual vibe and unique experience – you can even pre-order a picnic and dine outdoors before the show – make it a ‘must-do’ when visiting Vancouver in the summer.
“Almost two million people have attended over 30 years; every age, background and from all over the world,” Gaze says. “They mingle, enjoy each others’ company and friendships are formed in the moment, and often for life!”
Just a short stroll away, along the waterfront path, is stunning Kitsilano Beach. A summer hot spot, Kits is famous for its outdoor swimming pool. Almost three times longer than an Olympic pool, it’s North America’s longest pool and Vancouver’s only heated salt water pool. There’s also beach volleyball or you can just lean up against a log on the beach and chill.
“From the beaches of English Bay to exploring Stanley Park, world-renowned restaurants, nightlife, entertainment, shopping and so much more, Vancouver has everything,” says Gaze. “It’s one of the great destinations in the world.”
And it’s a destination I’ll need to return to soon, to take in more exciting summer festivals.
FIVE CAN’T MISS VANCOUVER FESTIVALS:
- Bard on the Beach, June 15 to Sept. 15
- Vancouver Folk Music Festival, July 19-21
- Mission Folk Music Festival, July 26-28
- Honda Celebration of Light, July 27, 31 and Aug. 3
- Indian Summer Festival, July 4-11