Robson Square is the open public space at the corner of Robson and Howe in the heart of downtown Vancouver across the street from the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Robson Square in Downtown Vancouver
Designed by the renowned Vancouver architect Arthur Erickson, Robson Square is a plaza and public space bordered by Howe Street, Hornby Street and Robson Street in the core of downtown Vancouver. It’s also connected with the south plaza of the Vancouver Art Gallery which is often also considered part of “Robson Square.”
Completed in 1983, Robson Square itself consists primarily of a covered underground area that’s used as a skating rink in the winter and event venue at other times. At Robson Square there are also lots of steps to sit on, open concrete spaces and a tiny area with a few trees and other vegetation.
Including the Provincial Law Courts and University of British Columbia‘s downtown campus building, which are both technically part of the overall structure, Robson Square is 1.2 million sq. feet in size and covers over three city blocks.
At Robson Street, especially in the summer, expect to see the odd street entertainer, the occasional person protesting something or other, artists selling their wares and people just wandering around. In Robson Square itself, especially in some of the covered areas, there are also often small groups of people practicing their dance moves.
Events at Robson Square
Robson Square is a fabulous place to people watch almost any day of the year. It’s also a host venue for a number of significant Vancouver events including ice skating in winter, Salsa dancing in the summer, and cultural events like St. Patrick’s Day parties and Mexican fiestas.
Below are just some of the many events and activities that take place at Robson Square over the course of the year.
Robson Square Ice Skating
From the beginning of December until the end of February Robson Square becomes home to free ice skating. Hours of operation are 9 am to 9 pm from Sunday to Thursday and from 9 am to 11 pm on Fridays and Saturdays.
Click Robson Square Skating for more details.
Robson Square Salsa
Often in summer time Robson Square is the venue for free salsa dance lessons on Sunday afternoons. Click Robson Square Salsa for information.
Cinco de Mayo
Cinco de Mayo is one of two major Mexican-themed holidays that are celebrated annually in Vancouver. Cinco de Mayo happens on May 5th (as the name of the event translated from Spanish would suggest) and various events take place on the fifth and during the week and weekend(s) around that date.
One of the largest Cinco de Mayo events in Vancouver used to be the annual Casa de Amigos on Robson fiesta that featured Mexican market vendors, luchador wrestling shows, Mariachi music and other cultural activities at Robson Square. The event, however, hasn’t happened for a few years.
September 16th is Independence Day in Mexico and on a Saturday around that time Vancouver’s Mexican community celebrates with a major full-day event. Similar to the Cinco de Mayo celebrations, the September event included vendors selling Mexican foods and souvenirs, Mariachi bands played Mexican music and thousands of Lower Mainland Mexicans and other Vancouverites having a wonderful time.
In recent years the September 16th celebrations have taken place at the Roundhouse in Yaletown. In 2017 and 2018, however, the festivities were held at Robson Square in the form of Market Mexico. To our knowledge, the event hasn’t happened again since.
For more information on Robson Square, click Robson Square.
For a list of other places of significance in the area, click City of Vancouver.
For a list of other major events in the Lower Mainland, see Vancouver’s Festivals & Events Calendar.