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Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition Summer Fair (PNE)

Pacific National Exhibition

The Pacific National Exhibition, or PNE, has been an annual Vancouver fair for over 100 years with rides, shows, farm animals, midway games and concerts.

This article contains details about the following:

General PNE Information | Admission | Ways to Save | Summer Concerts | Special 2019 Features | PNE Rides | PNE Ride Tips | General Tips & Advice | PNE Video | Other Information

Click on any of the above links to jump to specific information, or continue reading to learn all about the Pacific National Exhibition.

See below for information about Vancouver’s annual PNE summer fair. Or, for PNE events and activities at other times of the year, click Playland or Halloween Fright Nights.

For information just about the music lineup in 2019, click PNE Night Concerts.

Vancouver’s PNE Fair

Taking place the last three weeks of the summer and finishing on the Labour Day Long Weekend, the PNE is when Vancouver’s Playland turns into a first-class fair.

In 2019 the fair runs from August 17th to September 2nd.

The PNE has all of Playland’s usual midway and various amusement rides, including the famous wooden roller coaster. What’s more though is all the live entertainment, tantalizing food stalls and the excitement of a carnival.

If you’ve never been to the Pacific National Exhibition, or you haven’t been for many years, you should go! It’s a Vancouver tradition and you’ll have a great time!

Admission to the PNE

For 2019 admission to the fair at the gate is $18 for visitors ages 14-64, $9 for seniors, $5 for folk between 6-13, and free for children ages 5 and under.

The 2019 Fair Ride passes for all-day access to the amusement rides is $46.75 for most folk, but for those people shorter than 48 inches tall it costs $35.75. Both of these prices are when buying your tickets at the gate. A way to save time in line-ups is to purchase the Ride Rapid Pass, which costs an additional $25 at the gate.

A good way to save a few dollars on admission is to purchase your tickets on-line.  See below for admission discounts.

Ways to Save at the PNE

Similar to most years, in 2019 there are several ways to save money at the PNE including the following:

  • Purchase Tickets Online – buy your admission tickets and ride passes in advance online and save a few dollars. Admission rates are also discounted at the gate after dark.
  • Go on Special Savings Days including the following:
    • August 17th & 18th, 2019: Free admission for First Responders (including current and retired ambulance attendants, police officers, firefighters, and members of the military, Search & Rescue and Coast Guard). Show your First Responders service card at the gate and one friend gets in free too!
    • August 20th & 27th, 2019: Free admission for everyone arriving between 11 am and 1 pm on both Tuesdays of the fair. Arrive early, get your hand stamped after 1 pm, and then go and return later in the day as you like.
    • August 21st & 28th, 2019: Wild Ride Wednesdays lets people arriving between 11 am and 1 pm get 2-for-1 ride passes (so make sure to go with an even number of friends).
    • August 21st, 2019: Library Day means that people who show their BC library card and photo ID pay only $6 for gate admission!
    • August 22nd, 2019: Seniors age 65+ get free admission and Ferris Wheel rides all day.
    • August 29th, 2019: Out at the Fair Day has free entry for those wearing Pride socks purchased from the Vancouver Pride Society.  If you don’t already have any, you can purchase a pair at the Hastings & Renfrew entrance with proceeds going to the Vancouver Pride Society.
  • Show Your BCAA Membership Card – BCAA members get 30% off admission and ride passes. See the BCAA website for details.
  • Show Your Vancity Membership Card – members of Vancity Credit Union pay just $8 for general admission between 11 am and 1 pm on Saturdays, Sundays and the Labour Day Monday.
  • Go Late and Buy a Twilight Ride Pass – ride passes purchased at the gate after 5 pm on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays cost just $30.75 instead of the full price of $46.75.
  • Buy Your Passes at Special Retailers – tickets purchased at 7-11, Safeway, Save-on-Foods, PriceSmart Foods and Urban Fare stores are discounted, including by as much as $12 for ride passes. (Note: Tickets at Lower Mainland retailers are available starting in August.)
  • Download the PNE Fair App – download the app and show it on your mobile phone at the ticket gate and pay just $2 for admission on August 17th and 18th.
  • Savings Coupon Book – if you plan to spend lots of time at the PNE eating, drinking and doing stuff that costs money, then pay $2 for a Pinwheel Deals coupon book at any Guest Services location at the fair. You’ll find over $350 in potential savings inside (although you’d have to spend a crazy amount of money to save that much!).

TIP: Don’t buy your ticket online or at a store and then show up on a discounted day during eligible discounted hours. If you do you’ll end up saving a few dollars off the regular full price of a ticket, but still pay more than you have to.

ZZ Top at PNE Night Concert
ZZ Top in Concert at the PNE

PNE Summer Night Concerts

Every year the PNE hosts live outdoor concerts by rock bands of yesteryear, as well as the occasional country and rock groups still big in the present day. What’s amazing about these performances is that they are all included in the price of regular admission to the PNE, which is a fabulous deal.

2019 PNE concert bands include the following:

Click 2019 Summer Concert Lineup for more details!

Admission to all of the above concerts is included with regular admission to the PNE, although seating is limited. Reserved seating is available, however, for a cost of between about $37.50 and $71.40.

A minimum of between 2000 and 4000 tickets are available for free for attendees of the PNE (who need to still pay for their regular gate admission). These are available on the day of each concert starting at 11:00 am.

For the more popular bands especially, paying extra and booking your tickets in advance is recommended (unless you don’t mind standing in line for a long time and the risk of being disappointed if you don’t get in).

For a more comprehensive list of the concert lineup in 2019, click PNE Night Concerts.

Superdogs Ninja Dog
Superdogs in the Pacific Coliseum

Special 2019 PNE Features

In 2019 the Pacific National Exhibition features some of the fair’s traditional exhibits including its free SuperDogs shows, Kidz Discovery Farm, Duelling Pianos performances and the vendor marketplace.

New PNE attractions for 2019 include the following:

  • The Superconscious Experience of Reveen – like his father before him, Tyrone Reveen entertains audiences with his powers of persuasion involving audience members. The show is daily at 7:30 pm in the Pacific Coliseum.
  • Snap Happy:  A Do-It-Your-Selfie Experience – this free pavilion exhibit offers interactive displays and exhibits. It offers an immersive experience with colourful and playful art installations to take selfies in. Located in the Rollerland building near the Pacific Coliseum and open daily from 11 am to 11 pm.
  • Game Changer Exhibit:  Discover the Evolution of Video Games – a free exhibit showcasing the innovative journey of the video game industry.  Explore the past, present and future of gaming through written displays. Located in the Garden Auditorium, the exhibit is open daily from 11 am until 10:30 pm.
  • Super Action Academy – let your little ones don their superhero costumes and join the fun as real superheroes in this new exhibit involving music and action.
  • Blue’s Dance Party – enjoy singing and dancing with Blue the Bear and his friends at the Toon City Stage.
  • Family Flix – new for 2019, the PNE hosts a nightly movie on a large outdoor screen in the Toon City zone.
  • For the Love of Drag – join various “queens” as they perform favorite Pop songs in full drag.
  • Mike Wood Comedy Show – laugh and be entertained by this Canadian performer.
  • Mama Lou, Strong Woman – if you thought you were tough, wait until you meet Mama Lou! She crushes fruit in her armpit and can bend a frying pan.
  • Pyro-Musical Finales – watch the skies illuminate with rockets, explosions and high-voltage power along with live performers at the end of the night.
Knights of Valour Jousting at the PNE
Knights of Valour at the PNE

Other entertainment also takes place at the PNE in 2019 including live performances in the Festival Park at noon, 2:00, 5:00, 7:00 and 8:30 pm each day.

The Knights of Valour are also back again for another year. The live jousting takes place in the Agrodome.

If you like crowds, rides, stalls selling all kinds of ware, farm animals and fairly high quality entertainment all for a very reasonable admission price, then the PNE is a great place to go.

PNE Amusement Rides

The PNE features close to three dozen amusement rides. Some are for kids and others only for extreme thrill seekers. Many of the rides spin, some drop and others just go around and around.

Rides at Playland and the PNE

PNE Amusement Ride Prices

Ride ticket coupons usually cost less than $2 each. Each ride then takes a varying number of tickets.

All-day ride passes cost $46.75 at the gate for individuals who are at least 4 feet tall (i.e., 120 cm). Folks shorter than that cost $35.75, but they are restricted to certain rides. All-day ride passes purchased online are $3 cheaper at $43.75 and $32.75 respectively.

Below we have categorized the different rides. Every person is different though, so what’s a tame ride for some can be terrifying for others. It all depends on your comfort with heights, drops, speed and spinning around.

PNE Kids Rides

PNE rides for little kids include Balloon Explorers, Bug Whirled, Cool Cruzers, Choppers, Cap’n KC, Dizzy Drop, The Flutterbye, Honeybee Express, Merry-Go-Round, Teacups and the Super Slide. All of these rides are pretty tame.

There are also amusement rides that are good for almost everyone, like the Ferris Wheel, Wave Swinger and Rock-n-Cars (i.e., bumper cars).

Most of the above attractions require riders be at least 3 feet tall, although, with a few, smaller children can still ride with a parent. With a couple of the rides there is a maximum height restriction of 5 feet, and, with a few others, smaller children taller than 36 inches still have to ride with an adult.

Medium-Level Rides at the PNE

Medium-level rides at the PNE include the Alien Abduction, Kettle Creek Mine Coaster, Flume, Octopus, Scrambler and Tilt-A-Whirl. Unless you suffer from motion sickness, most of these rides are pretty fun and not too over the top.

Some people also consider the Pirate Ship a medium-level ride, although it’s definitely on the more extreme end of this category’s spectrum. We list Kettle Creek Mine Coaster above as medium-level, but on the other hand it is also arguably at the high edge of the little kid-range.

Wooden Roller Coaster at PNE Playland
The PNE’s Wooden Roller Coaster

Serious PNE Rides

Some of the more serious rides at the PNE include the Wooden Roller Coaster, the Atmosfear, Breakdance, the Crazy Beach Party, Gladiator and Music Express. They all rip around pretty fast!

The most serious rides at the PNE are, arguably, the Beast, Enterprise, Hell’s Gate and Hellevator.

The other two most extreme rides at the fair are the Drop Zone and Revelation, both of which cost extra. With the former you are shot up into the air bungy-style, and with the other you are spun around and around from ground level way up into the sky.

Please note that the Corkscrew Roller Coaster is no longer operational.  Playland and the PNE are redeveloping that part of the fairgrounds to bring us something more exciting in the coming years.  Wait for it!

PNE Ride Tips

Below are some tips and advice to help you enjoy your PNE rides as much as possible.

TIP #1: If you don’t want to get wet, don’t go on the Flume. If it’s a hot sunny day though, and you do want to cool down, then head to the Flume early before the lineup gets really long.

TIP #2: If you don’t like spinning around and getting dizzy, some of the rides you’ll want to avoid include the Tilt-A-Whirl, Octopus, Breakdance, Gladiator, Scrambler and possibly even the Tea Cups.

TIP #3: If you’ve never been on a roller coaster and want to test one out, go on the Kettle Creek Mine Coaster first.

TIP #4: In our opinion, the ride most likely to give you a heart attack is the Hellevator, followed by the Wooden Roller Coaster. Rides most likely to make you sick are the Enterprise, Revelation, Hell’s Gate, Octopus and Crazy Beach Party. Everyone is different though, so actual results may vary!

TIP #5: If you have neck or back problems, stick to the tamest rides (like the Ferris Wheel) and don’t even think about going on the roller coaster or even the bumper cars.

TIP #6: Proper footwear is required on some rides. For example, flip-flops and slip-on shoes are not allowed on the Beast or Hell’s Gate.

The PNE Fairgrounds

General Tips and Advice

Here are some more tips and suggestions on how to make the most out of your experience at the PNE:

TIP #1: You don’t have to go on rides to enjoy the PNE – you can easily spend the whole day just taking in the sites and entertainment. If you just want the rides, then you can go to Playland when the PNE isn’t taking place. If you do want to go on the rides, however, then don’t forget that ride passes are 2-for-1 on Wednesdays if purchased at the gate between 11 am and 1 pm.

TIP #2:  If you want to attend a free concert with one of the more famous bands, either get in line for early ticket registration at 2 pm or pay an extra $30 to $70 in advance for reserved seating as sometimes the viewing area fills up and PNE officials have to turn away disappointed fans (and no, the PNE doesn’t let you hold seats for your friends).

TIP #3: If you don’t like crowds, then the Pacific National Exhibition might not be the best place to go. Good times to avoid the masses though include rainy days and in the evenings from about 7:30 until 9:30 while everyone is at the concerts.

PNE Video

For a look at some of the many great things to see and do at the Pacific National Exhibition, check out the video below.

Other Information

For more information about Playland and the PNE, check out the following:

For information on the PNE in October, click PNE Fright Nights at Halloween.

Other articles that may be of interest include the following: