Celebrated in Metro Vancouver with a rodeo, parades, car shows and other events, Victoria Day is a stat holiday that takes place on a Monday in late May.
COVID-19 CAUSES EVENT CANCELLATIONS
Most events that normally take place on the May Long Weekend didn’t take place in 2020. That’s because the Province of British Columbia declared a state of emergency in response to the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. Also, health authorities banned gatherings involving 50 or more people. They also advised people to stay home and not to travel out of town.
As of mid-May, restrictions on what can open eased up (so just in time for the Victoria Day weekend). As of May 14th a handful of provincial parks reopened, at least for day-use, and restrictions on restaurants also eased. Lots of long weekend events were still cancelled though.
Restrictions may or may not still be in place continuing into 2021. As a result, details for most events next year are to be confirmed.
To see which Victoria Day events that were either cancelled or postponed in 2020, see below. To learn how the pandemic is affecting the Lower Mainland in other ways, see our article about Vancouver and COVID-19 Closures and Cancellations.
Victoria Day Long Weekend
Victoria Day is always on the Monday before May 25th each year. Consequently, in 2020, the long weekend took place May 15th to 18th. In 2021 the long weekend will run from May 22nd to 24th.
The holiday commemorates the birthday of Queen Victoria, the British Queen who was born on May 24, 1819.
Major events on the May Long Weekend include the following:
Click on any of the above links to jump to a specific topic, or continue reading to learn about all of the events.
VanDusen & Whistler Car Shows
One major event taking place most years on the Victoria Day May long weekend is the Vancouver All British Field Meet which features hundreds of classic British cars at VanDusen Garden. The car show was originally going to take place on the Saturday, which meant May 16th in 2020. Due to the coronavirus outbreak in the spring, however, it was postponed until a yet-to-be-determined future date.
When it does take place, expect to see Rovers, Austins, Jaguars, MGs, Triumphs, Minis and various other beautiful British vehicles, plus hundreds of car fanatics.
In addition to the Saturday car show, on the Sunday most years many of the same cars take part in the All-British Vancouver-Whistler Run (which was also postponed in 2020).
During the Sunday event cars usually meet at West Vancouver’s Park Royal Mall starting at around 8:30 or 9:00 am and all are gone by 10 o’clock. That’s because they set off up to Whistler where they are on display once again for the afternoon, this time in Whistler’s Creekside Village Plaza.
The best time to see the cars at their West Vancouver on the Sunday starting location is just before 9:00 am when the majority are still there.
The Cloverdale Rodeo
The Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair takes place in Surrey at the Cloverdale Fairgrounds on the Victoria Day Long Weekend every year (or at least ones when it doesn’t get negatively impacted by pandemics). In 2020, however, the event was indeed cancelled. Details are to be confirmed for 2021.
The Cloverdale event usually runs from the Friday to the Monday and includes a rodeo with various cowboy competitions, amusement rides, farm animal displays and other carnival fair activities.
There are typically five rodeo shows over the weekend, with one on the Friday evening, two on the Saturday, one on the Sunday, and then the finals on the holiday Monday.
At the rodeo competitions include bareback riding, saddle bronc riding, bull riding, barrel racing and mutton busting.
At the Country Fair there is a West Coast Lumberjack Show each day, skateboarding competitions with thousands of dollars’ worth of prize money, country dancing each evening and amusement rides from about 4 pm on the Friday until 6 pm on the holiday Monday.
Cloverdale Rodeo Parade
In 2020 the Cloverdale Rodeo Parade was supposed to take place on Saturday, May 16th. The parade is usually a fairly good one, comprising over 80 entries including floats and marching bands. It runs between 56th Avenue and 60th Avenue. The next Cloverdale Rodeo Parade now won’t be happening until 2021.
See Cloverdale Rodeo for more information on the rodeo and country fair.
Royal Canadian Circus
One of the Lower Mainland’s most popular attractions on the Victoria Day Long Weekend is the Royal Canadian International Circus. The Alberta-based circus brings acts from all around the word to the Vancouver area each year in May and June.
In 2020 shows were originally scheduled to take place from May 14th until June 4th with performances in Richmond, Surrey and Vancouver. In April of 2020, however, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the circus had to cancel its entire North American tour.
The Royal Canadian International Circus is a great circus company and highly recommended. It will be back in Vancouver again in 2021.
Lower Mainland Railway Adventures
Thomas the Train and Sir Topham Hatt visit the West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish on the Victoria Day Long Weekend most years, as well as on the following weekend.
On the weekends of the event children and their families can take 20-minute train rides on Thomas in addition to exploring all the site’s various other railroad-related structures and artifacts.
Departures on Thomas the Train usually take place each day at 9:30, 10:30, 11:30, 1:00, 2:00, 3:00 and 4:00. Tickets cost about $29.
2020 dates were going to be May 23rd, 24th, 30th and 31st, but the event was postponed until the fall. The new dates, tentatively, were October 17th, 18th, 24th and 25th. Hopefully the coronavirus will be under control enough by 2021 to allow Thomas the Train to still visit.
Click West Coast Railway Heritage Park for more details.
Royal Victorian Party
Stewart Farm is a historic site not far from Crescent Beach and the party features all kinds of old-fashioned celebrations including Morris dancers, ice cream making and birthday cake.
As of early May, 2020, Stewart Farm was still closed until further notice. As a result, the annual Victoria Day event at the historic site won’t be happening in 2020. Hopefully it will be able to run again in 2021.
Fort Langley May Day Parade
Victoria Day is celebrated in Fort Langley on the holiday Monday with a parade and community fair in the town and special events at the fort.
Celebrating its 98th anniversary in 2020, the Fort Langley May Day Parade was scheduled to start on Church Street on the Monday morning. It didn’t happen in 2020, however, thanks to the coronavirus. Hopefully it’ll be back again in 2021.
In years when it does take place, the parade usually goes along Mavis, then Glover Road, 88th Avenue, Trattle Street and St. Andrews before finishing at the Fort Langley Community Park.
Fair events at the park include the piping in of the town’s May Queens, May Pole dancing and live entertainment. It’s a small community event, but fun (especially for people from the area).
At the same time as the fair in the town, over at the Fort the Victoria Day activities include historic weapons, coopering and blacksmithing demonstrations, as well as a farm tour most years.
Whistler Go Fest
Whistler Go Fest usually takes place all four days of the holiday long weekend and includes various outdoor sports competitions, art shows, live entertainment and other festival activities. Also at the festival is a British Car Show on the Sunday.
Also taking place on the Sunday most years is the Whistler Farmers Market at the base of Blackcomb Mountain from 11 am to 4 pm.
In 2020 Whistler Go Fest was going to happen on the Friday to Saturday of May 15th to 18th. Due to health concerns about the coronavirus, however, the entire festival was cancelled. Details are to be confirmed for 2021.
Other Weekend Activities
On the Victoria Day weekend there are also the following events most years (but not in 2020):
- Victoria Day at Trout Lake – a small free event featuring a bouncy castle, craft activities and games at the Trout Lake Community Centre at 3360 Victoria Drive from 10 am until noon.
- Victoria Day at Burnaby Village Museum – Queen Victoria’s birthday is celebrated with cupcakes and live entertainment from 11:00 am until 4:30 pm. Free admission.
In addition to the above Victoria Day events, there are other activities taking place over the long weekend, including Summer Night Markets in Richmond and on the North Shore, as well as Saturday Farmers Markets and Sunday Farmers Markets.
For more ideas on things to do, check out the May Events Calendar.