Vancouver’s largest Remembrance Day ceremonies and parade take place at the Victory Square Cenotaph in downtown Vancouver on the morning of November 11th.
There are ceremonies in other parts of Vancouver and throughout the Lower Mainland too. The Victory Square event, however, is usually one of the biggest and most impressive. For details about what happens, see below. Or, for information about ceremonies at other locations, click Remembrance Day Events.
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Remembrance Day at Victory Square
The Remembrance Day ceremony at Victory Square takes place at the Cenotaph at 200 West Hastings Street between Cambie Street and Hamilton. The ceremonies usually start at 10:00 or 10:30 am and go until about 11:30 am or noon, after which time the parade begins.
REMEMBRANCE DAY CONCERTS
In addition to parades and ceremonies, a number of choir concerts also take place on the Remembrance Day Weekend.
In 2023 Chor Leoni performed at St. Andrew’s Wesley United Church in Vancouver on November 10th and 11th. The Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir, meanwhile, performed at South Delta Baptist Church on November 11th.
About the Vancouver Ceremonies
The Remembrance Day ceremony at Victory Square is an annual event that attracts tens of thousands of people in good years.
The ceremonies usually begin with a musical performance followed by the marching in of veterans, members of the Canadian Armed Forces and police officers. There are then pipe band performances and the singing of O Canada. This is followed by the playing of the Last Lament and two minutes of silence. After this there is the laying of wreaths and then more music.
A couple of things make the Vancouver Remembrance Day event unique compared to most other Lower Mainland ceremonies. One is its size. The other is the number of veterans, cadets and officers participating. In addition, a special feature is the 21-gun salute by the 15th Field Artillery Regiment.
When it happens, the 21-gun salute usually takes place at Portside Park, which is at the waterfront close to a kilometre away. It can still be clearly heard though from Victory Square.
Remembrance Day Schedule
The Remembrance Day ceremonies usually begin at 10:00 am or just before with a performance by the Vancouver Bach Choir’s Youth, Chorus and/or Sarabande choirs. Hundreds of veterans, cadets and present-day officers then march with flags and in their uniforms along a block or so of Cambie Street into Victory Square and to the Cenotaph.
The arrival of all the various marching groups takes a bit of time. It’s an impressive scene.
After everyone is finally in position, the official ceremonies take place. That’s when there is a prayer, and a short speech or welcome by a local dignitary or two. After that the Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, along with the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Services band, usually give a short performance.
At 11:00 am a bugle plays the Last Post, followed by the traditional two minutes of silence during which time the 15th Field Artillery Regiment’s 21-gun salute can be heard in the distance. This is typically followed by the singing of In Flanders Fields by the Vancouver Bach Choir’s Youth and Sarabande choirs. After that there is the laying of wreaths at the base of the Cenotaph.
The entire ceremony, from start to finish, lasts for about 90 minutes or a little bit more. Upon its completion the Vancouver Remembrance Day Parade then begins.
About the Vancouver Parade
The Vancouver Remembrance Day parade usually commences immediately after the end of the ceremonies. Bagpipes and drums start back up and the various units of cadets, veterans, police officers and military personnel march in formation out of the park.
Vancouver’s Remembrance Day Parade isn’t like other large-scale parades at other times of the year. It doesn’t have floats, clowns or dignitaries waving from convertible cars. It also doesn’t have balloons or people throwing out candy. Also, unlike military parades in some countries, there isn’t a show of military hardware or anything flashy. Instead, Vancouver’s parade usually consists of over 1,000 uniformed cadets, RCMP officers, veterans and currently-serving members of the Armed Forces. They march from Victory Square along a few blocks of Vancouver’s downtown streets.
Typical of Remembrance Day parades across Canada, Vancouver’s parade is somber and respectful. It’s in honour of the people who serve the country, both past and present. It consists of people in uniform marching, plus bagpipes and a few other types of bands.
Vancouver Parade Route
The Vancouver Remembrance Day Parade begins at Victory Square at the corner of West Hastings and Cambie. It then usually goes along Hastings Street and past the reviewing stands just after Homer Street before turning up Richards. From there the procession turns east on Cordova and then south onto Cambie.
Tips and Advice
Below is a list of suggestions to help you make the most of your experience at Vancouver’s Remembrance Day Victory Square ceremonies.
Things to Know Before You Go
TIP #1: Dress warmly! Also, if the weather is typical for November, take an umbrella and wear something waterproof! A mug of hot chocolate or coffee can also be a good idea.
TIP #2: Don’t forget to support your local Royal Canadian Legion and wear a poppy.
TIP #3: Arrive early. This is one of the Lower Mainland’s most popular Remembrance Day events, so it gets crowded. You’ll want to get there early if you want a good spot to watch from, and even earlier still if you hope to find parking that’s not too far away.
TIP #4: Take public transit if you can. Victory Square is about a half kilometre or a 7-minute stroll from Waterfront Station. It’s a pleasant walk, especially if it’s not raining and if you go the slightly longer route along Water Street and through the main part of Gastown. Victory Square is also about the same distance, or even closer, to the Stadium-Chinatown Station in the other direction.
TIP #5: If you want to see a particularly large and impressive Remembrance Day event that includes a parade, attend the one at Victory Square, or the main ones in other large municipalities like Richmond or Surrey. Otherwise, attend an event closer to where you live, or in a region you want to visit and explore later in the day. For a list of other locations in the City of Vancouver, see below. For a list of Remembrance Day events in other parts of the Lower Mainland, click Remembrance Day Venues. The event at Victory Square might be one of the biggest, but it’s not the only one that’s large and impressive.
Other Things to Keep in Mind
TIP #6: If you want a good view of both the ceremony and parade, find a spot as close to the Cenotaph as you can at the beginning and then quickly make your way to the sidewalk on West Hastings to the west as soon as the ceremonies end and as the parade starts to form. To get anywhere near the Cenotaph, however, you’ll need to arrive very early.
TIP #7: From our experience in the past, if you stand at the side of the road on Cambie Street on the east side of the park you’ll get a view of the parade participants as they march to the Cenotaph at the very start of the event. If you stand on the sidewalk along West Hastings Street between Hamilton and Richards, you’ll get the best views of the parade at the end. that may or may not still be the case in 2024.
TIP #8: If you’re looking for things to do after the parade, click Remembrance Day Weekend or check out Vancouver’s November Calendar of Events. One activity of particular interest to many, and not far away, and indoors and so out of the rain, is the Circle Craft Market at the Vancouver Convention Centre. It’s an impressive early-season Christmas market that showcases the works of hundreds of local artists and artisans.
Other Remembrance Day Venues
The Victory Square Remembrance Day ceremonies and parade aren’t the only ones in Vancouver.
In 2023 there is a ceremony at UBC in the War Memorial Gym as well. The venue’s address is 6081 University Boulevard. The doors open there at 10:00 am this year and the ceremony starts at 10:45 am.
In addition to the above, another ceremony takes place at the Seaforth Armoury at 1650 Burrard Street. Hosted by the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada, the public service begins at 10:45 am with doors opening at 10:00 am. The ceremonies are followed by marches in Parade Square and a pipes and drums performance.
In the past there has also been a ceremony in Chinatown, at the corner of Keefer Street and Columbia. In past years it has taken place starting at 12:30 pm. Whether it does in 2023 or not, is to be confirmed.
Some years there is also a small ceremony at Crab Park at Portside. In past years it has begun at 10:30 am at Crab Park at 149 East Waterfront Road. This may or may not be the case in 2023.
For a list of Remembrance Day ceremonies and parades at other venues throughout the Lower Mainland, including on the North Shore and in Surrey, New Westminster, Burnaby, Richmond and other locations, click Remembrance Day Venues.
For more information about the Remembrance Day, see the Legion of BC/Yukon‘s website.
For information about other festivals, parades and events at different times of the year check out any of the following:
- Vancouver November Calendar
- Vancouver December Calendar
- Festivals & Events
- Lower Mainland Christmas Craft Markets
- Top Vancouver Christmas Activities