Canada Day Celebrations on Vancouver’s Granville Island
Granville Island is one of the most popular tourist attractions in the Lower Mainland. The district is home to a unique selection of stores and restaurants, along with stunning waterfront views of downtown Vancouver.
Canada Day celebrations take place on Granville Island almost every year. Due to COVID-19, in 2020 the in-person festivities were cancelled, as they were everywhere else in the country. In normal years though, the annual July 1st event features a variety of food trucks, activities, Jazz concerts and live entertainment. There is also a parade and ceremony in the afternoon. Details are to be confirmed for the 2021 event.
Most of the special activities are free for people to enjoy on Canada Day at Granville Island. It’s a fun place to be on July 1st.
Canada Day Parade and Official Ceremony
In years that July 1st celebrations aren’t cancelled due to pandemics, Granville Island hosts a parade that is immediately followed by an official Canada Day ceremony.
In 2019, the parade commenced near the Ocean Concrete facility at 1:30 pm. It then continued until it reached Ron Basford Park at the eastern tip of the island. The ceremonies started at 2:00 pm in the same park and lasted for about 30 minutes.
Interestingly, the parade at Granville Island is the main one for Canada Day within the City of Vancouver. There used to be a huge parade in downtown Vancouver, but it had its final year in 2017. There are other parades still though in other communities within the Lower Mainland.
On Canada Day there are usually special activities for visitors of all ages to enjoy. Each activity is typically only available at certain hours, so it’s a good idea to plan your day in advance (unless you plan to hang out there all day).
In 2019 there was a Bike Decorating Workshop held at Granville Island’s Ocean Art Works. The purpose of the workshop was for people to decorate their own bicycles and cycling gear before joining the parade at 1:30 pm where they could show off their work to spectators. It was a lot of fun for kids.
Another interesting activity at Granville Island’s last Canada Day event was the opportunity to dye yarn at the Fibre Arts Studio between 11:00 am and 3:00 pm. In 2019 folk were also able to make buttons at Arts Umbrella any time between 10:00 am and 5:00 pm. The Arts Umbrella facility was the main location for face painting as well, which was available from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm in the evening.
Granville Island is also home to a spray park which is a great place for kids to beat the summer heat. It’s open all summer (except for in 2020 due to COVID-19), but is especially busy on days like July 1st.
For a full list of activities that were available in the past, check out the 2019 Canada Day Schedule. The 2021 lineup will hopefully be similar. There is usually entertainment in the plaza by the waterfront, in Triangle Square in front of the Public Market, and in one or two of the theatre venues, plus multiple other locations.
Live Entertainment on the July 1st
Canada Day happens to take place during the Vancouver International Jazz Festival (which in 2021 runs from June 25th until July 4th). Granville Island visitors are treated to live jazz music at various times during the festival, but especially so all afternoon and evening on July 1st. More than 10 bands usually participate, and each performs at different times and locations.
During the last Canada Day weekend when in-person events were allowed, the Black Top Blues Band performed in the Public Market Courtyard. Several bands including Triology and the Company B Jazz Band played at Performance Works. Ron Basford Park and the Railspur District Stage hosted a few other bands in 2019 too.
In addition to the live jazz, there are roving performers and buskers found all throughout Granville Island on Canada Day. It all makes for a fun, affordable and family-friendly time.
Granville Island is a popular place for shopping. The Public Market is where you’ll find high quality fruit, vegetables, meats, chocolates, baked goods and much more. The food court has everything from pizzas to fish and chips.
There was a small artisan market on Canada Day in 2019 that took place from 9:00 am until 6:00 pm in Triangle Square, which is just across the street from The Public Market. The Net Loft building is nearby and it contains many unique specialty stores. For example, there’s a shop full of handmade pottery and another that has millions of beads.
The Kids Market is a favourite place for children to explore. The building contains two floors of amazing stores that sell specialty toys, kites, clothes, sweets and more. It is usually open on Canada Day. There is also an indoor play area for children at the Kids Market in case the weather isn’t good enough for the outdoor spray park.
See our Shopping on Granville Island article for further details (including a video) about stores in the area.
For more information about the district in general, click Granville Island.
To learn more about the venue on July 1st, see the Granville Island website.
Other articles that may be of interest include:
- Shopping on Granville Island
- Lower Mainland Canada Day Celebrations
- Vancouver on a Budget
- July Events Calendar
- Free Activities in July