A lot happens in Vancouver on the Labour Day Long Weekend in September most years including free concerts, festivals, markets and the PNE.
In 2020 Labour Day takes place on Monday, September 7th (which is five days later in September than it was last year).
LABOUR DAY AND COVID-19
The outbreak of the coronavirus is having 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 this summer have been cancelled, and this includes ones taking place on the September Long Weekend. Before heading out to an event, check its website to make sure it’s still happening!
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
Wondering how to make the most of your time before school starts back up and life returns to normal? 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.
- 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. (TBC)
- Bands on the Beach – free live music at Harrison Hot Springs. (TBC)
- Nikkei Matsuri – Japanese cultural activities in Burnaby. (TBC)
- Pacific National Exhibition – amusement rides, concerts and fair activities at the PNE. (TBC)
- Chilliwack Sunflower Festival – fields of beautiful flowers on a farm in the Fraser Valley. (TBC)
- Victory Square Block Party – live music in Vancouver’s Downtown East Side. (TBC)
- 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.
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 has been cancelled both for that date and the entire season.
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 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 are September 4th and 5th. Whether it actually takes place this year though, and in what format, is to be determined.
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 last year.
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.
Note: Given the existence of COVID-19, the status of this event is to be determined.
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.
Nikkei Matsuri is a Japanese festival held at the Nikkei National Museum & Cultural Centre in Burnaby on the Saturday and Sunday of the Labour Day Weekend. 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 Museum is located at 6688 Southoaks Crescent in Burnaby and the festival runs most years from 11 am until 7 pm on both days. 2020 details are to be confirmed.
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.
Pacific National Exhibition (“the PNE”)
The Fair in Vancouver
Without a doubt, the PNE is the weekend favourite for hundreds of thousands of Vancouverites. At only about $18 for adults and free for children under 14 (not including rides), it’s the best annual fair deal in Canada.
Pacific National Exhibition activities include the SuperDogs, Kidz Discovery Farm, nightly music concerts and all the great carnival rides.
In 2020 the first day of the PNE is supposed to be Saturday August 22nd. The fair is then scheduled to run until the Labour Day Weekend and finish on Monday, September 7th. Whether it does happen this year though, and in what format, is to be determined.
Concerts at the PNE during the September Long Weekend last year included the following (and 2021 will likely be comparable):
- Friday, August 30th, 2019 – MC Hammer with Special Guest Bobby Brown
- Saturday, August 31st – Billy Idol
- Sunday, September 1st – The Beach Boys
- Monday, September 2nd – TLC (25th Anniversary)
Click PNE Night Live Music for more information about the concerts.
TIP: If you don’t like huge lineups and masses of people, try to visit the PNE on a weekday before the long weekend when the crowds aren’t quite so crazy.
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, summer growing conditions and, in 2020, the status of COVID-19).
In addition to fields of flowers to admire and stroll around, the event offers tractors to climb on, kid-friendly activities and amazing photo opportunities.
Note: The status of this festival in 2020 is to be determined. The organizers of this event also run the Chilliwack Tulip Festival in the spring and that event was cancelled this year. Hopefully this festival in the summer won’t be too, but things aren’t looking great.
For more information, click Chilliwack Sunflower Festival.
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 status of this event is to be confirmed. We’re guessing though that it won’t be happening in 2020.
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 has been 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. (To be confirmed for 2020.)
- Labour Day at Burnaby Village – special family-friendly activities take place between 11:00 am and 4:30 pm on the Holiday Monday. (Cancelled for 2020.)
- Richmond Night Market – at 8351 River Road in Richmond starting at 7 pm all four days of the Long Weekend.
- Bard on the Beach – Vancouver’s famous Shakespearean theatre. (Cancelled)
- 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 (but not in 2020), 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)
- Pioneer Days at Kilby Farm – special activities at Kilby Historic Site in the Fraser Valley on the Saturday and Sunday. (TBC)
- 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.
- 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. (2020 details are to be confirmed.)
- Labour Day Picnic – hosted by the New Westminster & District Labour Council, the picnic happened last year at Holland Park in Surrey between 11:30 am and 2:30 pm. Activities included live music and kid-friendly things to do. (2020 details are to be confirmed.)
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!