Right Here: Harmony Arts Festival
Head for the West Van seaside for the Harmony Arts Festival, where you can wander an arts market, sample gourmet cuisine, enjoy free shows by favourites including Jim Byrnes, Santa Lucia and Ali Milner, and the Dal Richards Orchestra, then tuck under a blanket and watch movies in John Lawson Park – this Saturday’s is (500) Days of Summer (until Aug. 12, harmonyarts.ca). For local arts with legs, don’t miss Dances for a Small Stage, where top dancers perform with serious spatial limitations (at the Legion on the Drive Saturday, movent.ca).
Powell Street Festival
Celebrate Japanese arts and culture from taiko drumming to sumo wresting and from butoh to bonsai, then sample sushi, chicken yakitori and iced ryokucha at the 36th annual Powell Street Festival – happening in the freshly revamped Oppenheimer Park and other venues (through Sunday, powellstreetfestival.com).
Hear Liszt’s Hungarian Rhapsody No. 2, Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto and even the Imperial March from Star Wars as the Victoria Symphony performs on a barge in the Inner Harbour, and ends with Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overtureand a fireworks display, at Symphony Splash (Sunday, victoriasymphony.ca). Then take in some fireworks at the big Italian finale at the Celebration of Light, with free afternoon concerts by Joel Plaskett, Great Lake Swimmers, Said the Whale, Hannah Georgas and more (Saturday, hondacelebrationoflight.com).
Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival
Head for the wilds of Squamish and watch real-life lumberjacks pole bucking, tree falling, axe throwing and more at Squamish Days Loggers Sports Festival, a burly celebration of forestry that also comes with a chair carving contest, bed races and more (at the Al McIntosh Loggers Sports Grounds through Monday, squamishdays.ca).
Fort Langley Brigade Days
Party like it’s 1849 at Fort Langley’s Brigade Days, where you can visit an early fur trading post, learn about trapping techniques, historic weapons and campfire cooking, then witness a traditional canoe brigade and a fur trade wedding. On Monday, make sure to stick around for the BBQ and free concert by mandolin master John Reischman and the Jaybirds (free admission on Monday, parkscanada.gc.ca/fortlangley).
Free Outdoor Concerts
Make the most of the warm summer nights at free outdoor concerts, including indie darlings the Great Lake Swimmers and homegrown Celtic rockers Spirit of the West at Whistler Olympic Plaza (whistler.com/olympic_plaza), or Wide Mouth Mason’s Shaun Verreault and B.C. folk faves Jon and Roy at Shipbuilders Square in North Van (Saturday, cnv.org). Then soak up free sounds as you stroll Pacific Spirit Park’s lovely forest trails at Music in the Park (Monday, metrovancouver.org).Free-B Film FestivalFor cinematic fun that’s light on the wallet, head for Victoria’s Free-B Film Festival, this weekend featuring the testudine classicTeenage Mutant Ninja Turtles (in Beacon Hill Park Saturday, freebfilmfest.com). More flicks en plein air? Catch Toy Story 3 in Surrey’s Holland Park (Saturday, downtownsurreybia.com), Ratatouille at Predator Ridge in Vernon (Saturday, predatorridge.com), and the spirited comedy Ghostbusters at Topaz Park in Victoria (Monday, fortisbc.com).
Catch trailblazing hip-hop act Public Enemy, revamped ska-punks Sublime with Rome and Daniel Wesley at Foxfest (at Deer Lake Monday, ticketmaster.ca). For more great summer soundtracks, see fast-rising British producer Totally Enormous Extinct Dinosaurs at the Electric Owl (Saturday, ticketweb.ca), Rheostatics guitarist Dave Bidini with his Bidiniband at the Media Club (Sunday, themediaclub.ca), White Denim at the Biltmore (Monday, ticketweb.ca) and Canadian metal legends Anvil at the Rickshaw (Sunday, liveatrickshaw.com).
Celebrate the province’s people and places with B.C.-themed events including free admission and $2.30 carousel rides at the Burnaby Village Museum (Monday, burnaby.ca), BC Cup Day at Hastings Racecourse (Monday, hastingspark.com), live music, oyster shucking, First Nations performance and free maple taffy, tea and cake at Canada Place (Saturday, canadaplace.ca), an exhibit of homegrown design from the earliest settlers to present at Emily Carr (opens Sunday, ecuad.ca), and a Women at Mountain View walking tour, where you hear haunting tales of a Titanic survivor, Vancouver’s Florence Nightingale, and Canada’s first female newspaper editor (Sunday, vancouver.ca).
Odlum Brown VanOpen
See world-class tennis without crossing the pond at the Odlum Brown VanOpen in West Van, where you’ll be just in time for the semi-finals and finals, both singles and doubles (at Hollyburn Country Club through Sunday, vanopen.com). Or skip the whites and get down and dirty at the Warrior Dash – a giant obstacle course whose challenges come with names like Vicious Valleys, Muddy Mayhem and Deadman’s Drop (at Mt. Seymour Saturday, warriordash.com).
Out There: Canadian National BBQ Championships
Need to step up your barbecue game? Watch the pros in action – and taste the delicious results – at the Bull’s Eye Canadian National BBQ Championships at Whistler Blackcomb, a sizzling competition that draws grill masters from across North America who vie for cash, spots at the world championships in Tennessee and Nevada, and serious bragging rights.
The event comes with live music, mechanical bull rides and free samples – but the real draws are the afternoon competitions, where apron-wearing, brush-wielding chefs whip up their finest pork butts, beef briskets, ribs, backyard burgers and more.
On Saturday, you can round out the day with a whole hog BBQ served with baked beans, corn on the cob, coleslaw, tossed greens, fresh buns and – be still barbecue lovers’ hearts – butt rub mayo (through Sunday, whistlerblackcomb.com).
For great BBQ minus the uphill climb, hit the second annual Smoking Sausage BBQ Competition Cook-off in the lane west of Main between Broadway and 8th, where you can sample creations by local eateries, as crafted by master sausage maker Drews Driessen. All proceeds to the Vancouver Food Bank (Saturday, mountpleasantbia.com).
Prefer to stick with things that grow in the ground? Don’t miss Veg Fest Vancouver, where you can sample vegan chocolate, tasty organics and fairy cakes (on Granville between Robson and Georgia Saturday, vegfestvancouver.com).
Hot Ticket: Vancouver Pride Parade
On the surface, it’s one of the most raucous, colourful weekends of the year – and one that comes with pancake breakfasts, barbecues, party cruises, late-night bashes, drag shows, naked dances and the city’s largest parade – not to mention a waterfront wrestling match in a pit filled with dark chocolate.
But beneath the thumping beats and chirping whistles, Vancouver Pride is also an event that draws people from tiny towns and huge metropolises around the globe – simply because they can be themselves.
“It’s a safe environment where people are being authentic, where you can walk down the street and hold hands with the person you love and not be fearful,” says Vancouver Pride Society president Tim Richards. “It sounds so basic and so many people take for granted, but what we want is for everyone to be able to walk down the street and hold hands with the person they love.”
This weekend’s myriad festivities include a Dyke March and Festival, the Terry Wallace Memorial Breakfast and the Queer Arts Festival, as well as the Pride Parade Sunday, which draws hundreds of thousands of spectators.
For the first time, the parade will also include a Vancouver Canuck, Manny Malhotra, who is marching in support of the anti-homophobia organization You Can Play – an especially significant milestone since there are no out gay hockey players in the notoriously tough NHL.
“When that happened, it was a big day,” says Mr. Richards. “It’s just a fabulous start.”
For more info and a schedule, visit vancouverpride.ca