Five cheap ways to enjoy summer family fun in Vancouver

A bargain 'staycation' is a chance to see it all as a tourist in your own town.

Lynn Canyon suspension bridge: just one of many of the city's free or nearly fre
Lynn Canyon suspension bridge: just one of many of the city's free or nearly free attractions.

Reports and debates on the cost of living in Vancouver are rampant and the verdict is in: it’s not cheap to live in this city. But even with the burden of exorbitant rents, high mortgages and costly childcare, it is possible to enjoy the best of a summer in the city. Here are five cheap and cheerful summer activities for the whole family:

Celebration of Light Fireworks, English Bay, VancouverTake in one of the three nights of fireworks for the cost of transit and a picnic.

1. Celebrate local culture and diversity

Vancouver summers boast an abundance of family-friendly festivals celebrating culture, diversity and neighbourhoods that are easy on the budget. Visit Destination BC for an extensive list of festivals taking place in and around Vancouver this summer or check out some of the following:

July 1 - Canada Day Events: All across the city, there are free, family friendly events to participate in. Whether it’s a parade, street party or fireworks show, there’s an activity for all ages.

July 11 - Khatsahlano: Occupying 10 blocks along West 4th, Khatsahlano is Vancouver’s largest free music and arts festival, featuring performances by local musicians, food and artisan stalls.

July 25, 29 & August 1 - Honda Celebration of Light: Nothing says summer in Vancouver quite like the tradition of the Celebration of Light. Gathering to watch three nights of fireworks lit off from English Bay from three different countries is always a family favourite.

August 1 & 2 - Powell Street Festival: Celebrating Japanese culture, this free festival offers a look into traditions and practices with activities for adults and children.

Theatre Under the Stars, TUTS, Stanley Park, VancouverTheatre Under the Stars at Malkin Bowl, Stanley Park.

2. Take in a show

Whether it’s under the stars, on a field or in a courtyard, Vancouver offers several affordable outdoor theatre productions around the city that are sure to be enjoyed by family members of all ages.

Theatre Under the Stars in Stanley Park is in its 69th year running and provides young actors with big-stage experience. This summer, you can sing along to Hairspray and Oliver! and even save $10 per ticket when you go during preview week (July 10 - 13) or on Aug. 3.

Carousel Theatre for Young People, located on Granville Island, hosts free, outdoor teen Shakespeare performances every summer. This year, catch Henry V July 24 – Aug. 8.

If your family prefers movies to live theatre, there are plenty of options for you too. Starting July 7 and running through Aug. 27, you can catch a family favourite movie on a large, outdoor screen for free. Movies play at dusk every Tuesday in Stanley Park and every Thursday at Canada Place. Visit Fresh Air Cinema’s Facebook page for a complete list of showings.

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