Lots happens in Vancouver on the September Labour Day Weekend most years including concerts, festivals, markets and the PNE.
In 2021 Labour Day takes place on Monday, September 6th (which is four days later in September than it was two years ago).
LABOUR DAY AND COVID-19
The outbreak of the coronavirus had a terrible impact on events, businesses and attractions in the Lower Mainland (and people in general around the world). Most major festivals and events in Vancouver in the summer were cancelled, and this included ones scheduled to take place on the September Long Weekend. Before heading out to an event, check its website to make sure it’s still happening!
Some events still took place on the September Long Weekend in 2020, but some were also cancelled and others moved completely online. As you’ll see below, events that were still scheduled to take place in 2020 were Playland and the Chilliwack Sunflower Festival. The Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival also took place on September 4th and 5th, but in an online format.
To learn about things that are still operating in the Lower Mainland, see our article about Metro Vancouver, COVID-19 and What’s Open.
September Long Weekend in the Lower Mainland in 2021 and Typical Years
Wondering how to make the most of your time before school starts back up and life returns to normal (or at least as close to normal as possible)? Then have fun getting the most out of the last few days of summer at any one of a number of great Labour Day Weekend activities.
Below is a list of the main things happening (in typical years) in the Lower Mainland. Click what interests you for more information, or scroll down for details on them all. As you’ll see, some are likely cancelled in 2021 due to COVID-19, but some may still happen.
- Maan Farms Sunflower Festival – sunflowers, a corn maze and Barnyard Adventureland in Abbotsford.
- Chilliwack Sunflower Festival – fields of beautiful flowers on a farm in the Fraser Valley.
- Fort Langley Jazz at Home – the festival takes place online in a virtual format this year (and in September instead of July).
- Playland & the Pacific National Exhibition – amusement rides, music and fair activities at the PNE.
- Nikkei Matsuri – Japanese cultural activities in Burnaby. (Not taking place on the long weekend; instead, it happens on August 7, 8, 21 and 22 in 2020).
- North Vancouver Night Market – the Shipyard Night Market is on the Friday (although it has been cancelled for 2020).
- Richmond World Festival – a free family-friendly multicultural event at Minoru Park. (Not happening in 2020.)
- Bands on the Beach – free live music at Harrison Hot Springs. (CANCELLED)
- Victory Square Block Party – live music in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. (Not happening in 2020.)
- Bard on the Beach – Shakespearean theatre performances under a giant Big Top-style tent at Vanier Park. (Cancelled for 2020.)
- Other Events – other activities including night markets, farmers markets and theatre.
Below is the more detailed list with information on each event.
Maan Farms Sunflower Festival
In Abbotsford in the Fraser Valley
The Sunflower Festival at Maan Farms was a new event in 2020 for the agricultural attraction in Abbotsford. Maan Farms usually has a corn maze this time of year, and its Barnyard Adventureland operates pretty much non-stop from early spring until late fall. From mid-August until mid-September in 2020, however, they added a beautiful field of sunflowers and combined it all to make its own Sunflower Festival.
The festival was open every day of the Labour Day Long Weekend, plus the following week up until September 13th. The flowers were pretty, the corn maze was fun and the animals and play structures in the Barnyard Adventureland keep children entertained for hours! It’s a great place for young families to visit!
Details about the event, including if it will run again, are to be confirmed for 2021.
Chilliwack Sunflower Festival
In Chilliwack in the Fraser Valley
The Chilliwack Sunflower Festival features acres and acres of both sunflowers and dahlias on a farm in Chilliwack. It’s usually open from early August until the middle of September (but exact dates depend on the weather and summer growing conditions).
The 2020 Sunflower Festival was scheduled to run between mid-August and the Labour Day Weekend. Special precautionary measures were in place and the event ran at a greatly reduced capacity to ensure visitor safety.
2021 dates and details are to be determined.
In addition to fields of flowers to admire and stroll around, in years when there isn’t a pandemic the event usually offers tractors to climb on, kid-friendly activities and amazing photo opportunities. There were still beautiful flowers to enjoy and fabulous photo opportunities in 2020, but not much in the way of things to touch.
For more information, click Chilliwack Sunflower Festival.
Fort Langley Jazz Festival
Online from Fort Langley
The Fort Langley Jazz and Arts Festival normally happens on a weekend in July. It got postponed until the September Long Weekend in 2020, however, due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Also because of the coronavirus, the event in 2020 took place primarily online, although there were a few live performances.
The Jazz at Home 2020 edition of the festival featured 17 free performances and 2 ticketed headliner shows. In addition to the free virtual acts, ticketed headliner performances could also be watched live-streamed online.
Headliner bands on Friday, September 4th, were Tom Lavalin & the Legendary Powder Blues as well as both Taylor James and Dalannah Gail Bowen. Performing on Saturday, September 5th, were Siobahn Walsh, Mimosa and Laila Biali.
Details are to be confirmed for the 2021 festival. It may or may not take place online again in 2021.
Playland & the Pacific National Exhibition (“the PNE”)
Playland is Vancouver’s amusement park. It doesn’t usually run on the Labour Day Weekend because the PNE is happening instead. In 2020, however, Playland happened on the Saturday, Sunday and Monday of September 5th to 7th. Details for 2021 are to be determined. See our article about Playland for details.
The PNE Fair
Without a doubt, the PNE is the weekend favourite for hundreds of thousands of Vancouverites most years. At only about $18 or so for adults and free for children under 14 most years (not including rides), it’s arguably the best annual fair deal in Canada.
Pacific National Exhibition activities normally include the SuperDogs, Kidz Discovery Farm, nightly music concerts and all the great carnival rides. In 2020, however, there wasn’t any rides and major concerts at the fair (although there were rides still at Playland). There also wasn’t be a PNE on the Labour Day Long Weekend (although it still happened other times in August).
In 2020, because of COVID-19, the PNE took place in a drive-thru format. For safety reasons, instead of wandering around the venue on your feet, you could explore the fair from inside your car. Also, instead of running until the Holiday Monday in September, last day of the fair in 2020 was scheduled to be August 30th (so about a week earlier than usual).
In 2020 the first day of the PNE was Saturday August 22nd. The fair was then originally scheduled to run until the Labour Day Weekend and finish on Monday, September 7th. In early August, however, the Pacific National Exhibition announced that the fair would run from just August 22nd until August 30th.
Dates and details for the PNE in 2021 are to be determined.
To learn more about what happened at the PNE in 2020 see our article about the Pacific National Exhibition.
Nikkei Matsuri is a Japanese festival that is usually held at the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre in Burnaby on the Saturday and Sunday of the Labour Day Weekend. In years when there isn’t a global pandemic, free activities take place outdoors in the garden and indoor activities costing about $4 admission include a Game Zone, Matsuri Marketplace and performances.
The Nikkei Matsuri event in 2020 looked a bit different than usual due to restrictions imposed by the spread of the novel coronavirus. Instead of the usual games and performances, the 2020 event had just a Japanese marketplace held in the Nikkei Garden.
The 2020 marketplace also wasn’t going to take place on the Labour Day weekend (although it did end up running then). Instead, it was going to just run on August 7th, 8th, 21st and 22nd. It did run on those dates, but also happened on the Friday and Saturday of September 4th and 5th as well. Also, on all those dates, to help prevent overcrowding, the festival had ticketed time slots.
Details regarding the 2021 festival are to be determined. Hopefully the regular free events will be able to resume this year!
The Nikkei Museum is located at 6688 Southoaks Crescent in Burnaby and the festival runs most years from 11 am until 7 pm on both days.
TIP: While you’re there, be sure to try some of the Japanese festival food! Okonomiyaki (Japanese savory pancakes) and takoyaki (fried octopus) are two of our favourites!
For more details, click Nikkei Matsuri.
North Vancouver Night Market
In North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale District
The Lower Mainland’s massive Shipyards Night Market was going to take place at Shipbuilders’ Square in 2020 on Friday, September 4th, from 5 until 10 pm. Due to the coronavirus, however, it was cancelled both for that date and the entire season. Hopefully the market will be able to return for 2021.
In years when the weekly summer market does take place, the evening features dozens of artisan vendors, food trucks and a beer garden. Last year the evening concert on the September Long Weekend was with the R&B, Blues and Soul band R & B Conspiracy. Music in 2021 will likely be comparable. Admission is free.
Click Shipyards Night Market for more information about the Friday evening event.
Richmond World Festival
At Richmond’s Minoru Park
The Richmond World Festival is a free event taking place on the Friday and Saturday of the long weekend at Minoru Park at 7191 Granville Street in Richmond. In 2019 it was on the weekend of August 30th and 31st. Dates for 2020 were going to be September 4th and 5th. Due to COVID-19, however, the event was unable to take place. Hopefully it will be back for 2021.
In years when there isn’t a global pandemic, the festival features live music, lots of food, and all sorts of cultural things from different parts of the globe. It’s a great event and suitable for people of all ages.
Free concerts at the Richmond World Festival in 2019 included performances by headliner bands Mazacote and Bedouin Soundclash (on the Friday) and The Strumbellas (on the Saturday). Camaro 67, the VOC Sweet Soul Gospel Choir, John Welsh & Los Valientes and many others also performed at the event in previous years.
TIP: Consider taking public transit. The Richmond Centre shopping mall is fairly close by, and on the other side of it is the Richmond-Brighouse SkyTrain Station. Minoru Park is about a 10-minute walk from the station, but it’ll probably take you at least that long to find parking.
Click Richmond World Festival for more information.
Bands on the Beach
At Harrison Hot Springs
The beautiful resort town of Harrison Hot Springs hosts its annual Bands on the Beach event which features free live music by the lake. Bring your lawn chair and listen to the concerts on the beach in the afternoon on both the Saturday and Sunday.
Music all weekend includes everything from Indie to Country to Bluegrass.
The event was cancelled in 2020 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Hopefully it will return for 2021.
TIP #1: While at Harrison Hot Springs, make the most out of your trip and check out some of the area’s attractions. Highlights include the beach at nearby Sasquatch Provincial Park, the Harrison Water Park, and boat rides with Shoreline Tours.
TIP #2: Arrive well before noon to improve your chances of finding convenient parking.
TIP #3: Don’t forget your swimsuit!
Click Bands on the Beach for more information.
Victory Square Block Party
In Vancouver’s Downtown East Side
The Victory Square Block Party is a small to medium-sized event in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside on the Sunday of the Labour Day Weekend. In years when it does take place, it features live music from around 2 to 9 pm at Victory Square at 316 West Hastings Street.
Note: The Block Party was not able to take place in 2020 due to COVID-19. Hopefully it will be able to return in 2021.
TIP: If you happen to be in the area anyway, and you like live music, you might want to check it out. Not everyone, however, is a fan of the neighbourhood. It’s close to historic Gastown though and only about 5 blocks from the edge of Chinatown.
Bard on the Beach
Bard on the Beach is Vancouver’s world-famous Shakespearean theatre company. It usually has shows running all long weekend (and continuing up until late September). Due to the outbreak of COVID-19, however, the theatre’s entire 2020 season was cancelled.
Plays to see in 2020 were going to be Love’s Labour’s Lost, Henry V, Paradise Lost and A Midsummer Night’s Dream. The same plays will likely now be shown in 2021 instead.
If you like theatre, especially plays by Shakespeare, you won’t want to miss seeing these shows! Mark your calendars for 2021!
Many of Vancouver’s regular yet still phenomenal weekly summer events also occur over the September Long Weekend most years including the region’s world-famous night markets, farmers markets and live theatre shows. See below for more details (recognizing that many of these events will actually be cancelled or postponed due to the coronavirus).
- Serbian Days – a free community event celebrating Serbian culture at Saint Sava Church at 505 East 63rd Avenue in Vancouver on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday. (TBC for 2021.)
- Labour Day at Burnaby Village – special family-friendly activities take place between 11:00 am and 4:30 pm on the Holiday Monday. (TBC for 2021.)
- Richmond Night Market – at 8351 River Road in Richmond starting at 7 pm all four days of the Long Weekend most years (TBC for 2021).
- Bard on the Beach – Vancouver’s famous Shakespearean theatre. (TBC for 2021.)
- Saturday Farmers Markets – great places to pick up long weekend picnic supplies on the Saturday can be found in Abbotsford, Burnaby, Fort Langley, Lonsdale Quay, Maple Ridge, Squamish, Trout Lake and the West End.
- Sunday Farmers Markets – taking place as they do most weekends in the summer at Ambleside, Coquitlam, Kitsilano, Mt. Pleasant, Steveston Village, White Rock and Whistler.
- Taiwanese Cultural Festival – a cultural event along Granville Street from Robson Street to West Pender on the Labour Day Long Weekend. (TBC for 2021.)
- Labour Union-Related Events – the Labour Day holiday wouldn’t exist if it wasn’t for unions and their efforts to protect worker rights. Below are two events organized by the labour movement to celebrate the day in past years (but not in 2020). Details are to be confirmed for 2021.
- Labour Day at Jack Poole Plaza – hosted by the Vancouver & District Labour Council, the Vancouver event last year went from 12:00 until 5:00 pm at Jack Poole Plaza beside the Vancouver Convention Centre. Speakers included union representatives, Mayor Kennedy Stewart and others. The rally in 2019 ran from 12:30 until 1:00 pm. Live music after that was with the band Cease & Desist. Family-friendly activities included bouncy castles, face painting, balloon animals and a juggling camp. However, in 2020, the event went virtual due to COVID-19.
- Labour Day Picnic – hosted by the New Westminster & District Labour Council, the picnic happened in 2019 at Holland Park in Surrey between 11:30 am and 2:30 pm. Activities included live music and kid-friendly things to do.
Other Things to do in September
Looking for other things to do in September in the Lower Mainland on different days and weekends? Then check out Vancouver’s Best Places’ September Calendar of Events. Or, if you just want to find a beautiful place to hang out, check out Vancouver’s best places in parks and nature.
Happy End of Summer Holidays!