The area is also where you’ll find the Shipyards Night Market in the summer (most years) and free outdoor Ice Skating in winter. It’s also home to the Burrard Dry Dock Pier year-round. Within a 5-minute walk there is also Lonsdale Quay, the Polygon Gallery, MONOVA: the Museum of North Vancouver and the SeaBus terminal.
In this article you’ll find information about the following:
The Shipyards District
Located by the waterfront at the bottom of Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver, the Shipyards District is an interesting place to visit and walk around. Shipbuilders’ Square is where numerous community events take place including concerts in the summer. The Pipe Shop is a restored historic building that’s also used for events, as is Shipyard Commons which is a huge covered plaza.
Below you’ll find information about these three venues, as well as the Burrard Dry Dock Pier. We also list a number of events that are held in the Shipyards each year.
SHIPYARD PALS WALKING TOURS
MONOVA: the Museum of North Vancouver is a great place to visit. At the museum you’ll learn all about the history of the area. In the summer the museum also hosts exceptional (and free) walking tours led by a couple of theatrical characters who sing, dance and tell stories while leading their guests on a tour of the area.
To learn more about this opportunity click Shipyard Pals Walking Tours.
North Vancouver’s Shipbuilders’ Square
Shipbuilders’ Square is what you might expect from its name. It’s a square in the middle of the Shipyards that’s used for events (like the Shipyards Night Market in the summer, or Shipyards Summer Sessions Concerts on Saturdays in July and August).
Located at 138 Victory Ship Way near the bottom of Lonsdale Avenue, Shipbuilders’ Square is bordered by the Tap & Barrel Restaurant, Pier 7 Restaurant, Pipe Shop and Shipyard Commons. There is an outdoor stage at Shipbuilders’ Square that’s used for live music events. There is also a wide open area and a giant restored shipbuilding crane in the middle.
Alcohol in the Square
New since 2021, because of the COVID-19 pandemic, North Vancouver permits the consumption of alcohol in a number of public spaces within the city. One of those places is Shipbuilders’ Square.
In Shipbuilders’ Square there are picnic tables and a few chairs set up for people to use. At the tables you can have a picnic, chat with your friends and enjoy adult refreshments that you can bring with you from home. You can also buy beer and other canned beverages to-go at a few places in the area.
To learn about other places where you can consume booze in public see our article about North Vancouver Parks Where You Can Drink Alcohol.
Completed in the summer of 2019, the newest addition to the Shipyards is Shipyard Commons. Built to match the designs of the surrounding heritage buildings, it’s a massive outdoor yet covered structure with 20,000 square feet of event space. The facility also has underground parking.
In winter Shipyard Commons is home to the biggest outdoor Ice Skating rink in Metro Vancouver. And in the summer it has a free 8,000 square foot water park that’s open between around 10:00 am and 8:00 pm every day of the week.
Ice Skating at Shipyard Commons
At 12,000 square feet in size, the ice rink at Shipyard Commons is huge! Not only that, but it’s covered and the Skating is free!
Between early December and the end of February or March, the skating rink operates daily from around 1:00 until 8:00 pm every day except for Christmas Day (when it’s closed). Admission is free. Rental skates cost $7 for adults or $5 for children. Helmets and skating aids are available for use for free.
(Note: Skates can be rented up until half an hour before closing, while quantities permit. Also, helmets are mandatory for children under 13 years of age.)
For comparison, the Vancouver region’s other main outdoor covered ice rink is the one at Robson Square. The rink there is 6,000 square feet in area, so just half the size. Skating there though is also free.
(Note: Ice cleaning takes place twice daily in the afternoon, at which time the rink is closed for between 30 and 45 minutes. The ice is also temperature-dependent. As a result, the facility may consequently close occasionally on days with warm weather.)
To learn more see our article about Shipyards Christmas Ice Skating.
Burrard Dry Dock Pier
The Burrard Dry Dock Pier, also known sometimes as just Shipbuilders’ Pier, is the giant structure that extends 700 feet out into Burrard Inlet. The original structure was built in 1925.
Major vessels, including naval ships, use Burrard Dry Dock Pier on occasion. Normally the pier is used by just everyday folk wanting a stroll, but occasionally a visiting navy boat will tie up there for a weekend. When one does, the public is sometimes welcome to go aboard for a tour.
To learn more about the dock see our article about Shipbuilders’ Pier.
The Pipe Shop
The Pipe Shop is right beside Shipbuilders’ Square at 115 Victory Ship Way. It’s an attractive building that used to be where pipefitters worked during the area’s shipbuilding past.
Built in the 1940’s, the Pipe Shop is 9,000 square feet in size and holds up to 360 people. Special events take place in the building including artisan markets and private receptions.
Festivals & Events
A number of North Vancouver events take place at the Shipyards, and a number of other ones happen nearby. The following festivals and events all occur within the Shipyards:
- CityFest – a youth-focused event that includes live music and skateboarding competitions in early May.
- Summer Sessions Concerts – free live music on Saturdays in July and August in Shipbuilders’ Square.
- Polish Festival – a cultural event that happens in either Lynn Valley (a different North Vancouver neighbourhood) or the Shipyards in September.
- Shipyards Festival – a large event featuring free live music and family-friendly activities at multiple venues in Lower Lonsdale in September.
- Shipyards Christmas Festival – a community event celebrating the start of the Christmas season at the Shipyards at either the end of November or the beginning of December.
- The Shipyards Christmas Market – a winter holiday craft fair in the Pipe Shop in December.
- Shipyards Night Market – an artisan market with food trucks and live music at Shipbuilders’ Square on Fridays between May and September. (Note: The night market was cancelled in 2020 and 2021 due to the coronavirus. It is unlikely to return in 2022.)
- North Shore Artisan Market – a market that takes place on various dates at different times of the year at the Pipe Shop in the Shipyards District.
- North Shore Craft Beer Week – a week of beer-themed activities including an Oktoberfest-style event at the Pipe Shop in October.
Also taking place in Lower Lonsdale each year (so not at the Shipyards but very close by) are the following events:
- Philippine Days – a cultural Festival at Waterfront Park in June.
- Canada Day at Waterfront Park – July 1st celebrations at the park on the far side of Lonsdale Quay.
- Caribbean Days Festival – an event showcasing Caribbean culture at Waterfront Park in July.
Shipyards Festival Video
The following video is of the Shipyards Festival in 2019. As you’ll see, it’s a very fun and entertaining event.
History of the Area
North Vancouver has a rich maritime and shipping-related past, and still-standing shipbuilding cranes and restored buildings attest to this history. Between 1906 and 1992 Shipyards workers built over 450 vessels. Many of these were constructed during the First and Second World Wars.
In addition to naval ships and navy support vessels, lumber industry barges, ferry boats and even icebreakers have been built and repaired here, including the historic St. Roch which is today an exhibit at the Vancouver Maritime Museum.
Shipbuilding and repairs still happen in the area, but to a more limited degree. It’s hard to believe, but North Vancouver today is still also one of the largest container ports by tonnage in all of North America.
Other Places of Interest in the Area
Other attractions in North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale District, but not actually in the Shipyards, include the following:
- Lonsdale Quay – a world-famous indoor public market that’s open year-round.
- MONOVA: the North Vancouver Museum – a really good museum about the history of the North Shore.
- Polygon Gallery – an art gallery specializing in photographic art.
To learn more about the Shipyards District, see the website of the Shipyards District Lower Lonsdale BIA.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- North Vancouver Restaurants
- North Vancouver Hotels
- Vancouver Festivals & Events
- Vancouver on a Budget
- Metro Vancouver Parts of Town
- Vancouver’s Top 100 Places