Vancouver’s largest Remembrance Day ceremonies and parade take place at the Victory Square Cenotaph in downtown Vancouver on the morning of November 11th.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic the main Remembrance Day ceremonies that are taking place in the Lower Mainland are not open to the public. Only those who are invited may attend ceremonies in 2020.
Although Victory Square is closed to the public on Remembrance Day, the ceremony is scheduled to be broadcasted on television. Visit the City of Vancouver‘s website for more information.
There are ceremonies in other parts of Vancouver and throughout the Lower Mainland too, but the Victory Square event is usually one of the biggest and most impressive. For details of what happens in normal years, see below. Or, for information about ceremonies at other locations, click Remembrance Day Events.
Remembrance Day at Victory Square
The Remembrance Day ceremony at Victory Square usually takes place at the Cenotaph at 200 West Hastings Street between Cambie Street and Hamilton. In years when there isn’t a pandemic, the ceremonies start at 9:45 am and go until about 11:30, after which time the parade begins.
About the Vancouver Ceremonies
The Remembrance Day ceremony at Victory Square is an annual event that typically attract tens of thousands of people.
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, the singing of O Canada, the playing of the Last Lament, 2 minutes of silence, 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, apart from its size and the number of veterans, cadets and officers participating. One special feature is the 21-gun salute by the 15th Field Artillery Regiment, and the second is the military flyover by Royal Canadian Air Force jets (which happens most years).
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 when it happens. The military flyover, assuming clear skies, can also be seen from a small number of other Remembrance Day venues, but especially from the one at Vancouver’s downtown Cenotaph most years.
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 and 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, but it’s an impressive scene.
After everyone is finally in position, the official ceremonies take place. That’s when there is usually 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, give a short performance in normal years.
At 11:00 am a bugle plays the Last Post, followed by the traditional 2 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, and then the laying of wreaths at the base of the Cenotaph.
In 2019 the program also featured a joint performance from the Vancouver Fire and Rescue Service and the Regimental Pipes and Drums of the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada.
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
In years without a pandemic, the Vancouver Remembrance Day parade 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.
Unlike other large-scale parades at other times of the year, Vancouver’s Remembrance Day Parade doesn’t have floats, clowns, dignitaries waving from convertible cars, balloons or people throwing out candy. Also, unlike military parades in some countries, there isn’t a show of military armaments, tanks or anything flashy. Instead, Vancouver’s parade usually consists of over a thousand uniformed cadets, RCMP officers, veterans and currently-serving members of the Armed Forces marching from Victory Square through a few blocks of Vancouver’s downtown streets.
Typical of Remembrance Day parades across Canada, Vancouver’s parade is somber, respectful and 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
In years that it happens, 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 out of your experience at Vancouver’s Remembrance Day Victory Square ceremonies.
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 see 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 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 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 either arrive very early or get access to the VIP area by being a veteran or some other kind of dignitary.
TIP #6: 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.
TIP #7: 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. And 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.
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. The full list of November 11th events in the City of Vancouver includes the following locations (all of which involve smaller turnouts and shorter ceremonies, but are still closed to the public in 2020 due to COVID-19):
(Note: ceremony locations, times and other details are subject to change.)
- Crab Park at Portside – begins at 10:30 am at Crab Park at 149 East Waterfront Road. Note: if you exit Waterfront Station’s SeaBus exit at the bottom of the escalator, the park is just a 10-minute walk away on the other side of the Helijet airport. Just don’t forget to tap out with your transit Compass Card as you exit the station.
- Grandview Park – starting most years at 10:45 am at Grandview Park at 1657 Charles Street by Commercial Drive. (CANCELLED)
- Memorial South Park – starts at 10:30 am at 41st Avenue and Windsor Street not far from Mountain View Cemetery.
- West Point Grey – at 3679 West Broadway beginning at 10:30 am.
- Stanley Park – beginning at 10:40 am at the Japanese Canadian War Memorial which is located between the Miniature Railway and Vancouver Aquarium in the middle of Stanley Park. Following the ceremony there is usually a reception at the Stanley Park Rowing Club and all are welcome. (Online stream available)
- Vancouver Chinatown – at the corner of Keefer Street and Columbia and usually taking place starting at 12:30 pm.
- Victory Square – see above for details.
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 event at Victory Square, 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