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Vancouver’s Pacific National Exhibition (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 2018 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 from last year, click PNE Night Concerts. And to learn about what was new last year on the menu, click 2018 PNE Food.

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 17 to September 2.

The PNE has all of Playland’s usual midway and various amusement rides, including its two major roller coasters. 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

Last year general admission to the fair at the gate was $18 for visitors ages 14-64, $9 for seniors, and free for children ages 13 and under. (This is only between 50¢ and $1 more than the year before.)

Also in 2018, a Fair Season Gate Pass was $45.50 at the gate, which was the same as the previous year. 2018 fair ride passes for all-day access to the amusement ride attractions, meanwhile, cost $46.75 for most folk, but $35.75 for people shorter than 48 inches tall (which meant ride passes cost between $2 and $4 more than in 2017).

After Dark Passes are also available at the gate, cost $6 and were good for general admission after 9 pm.

2019 admission rates will be similar.

See below for admission discounts.

The Corkscrew Roller Coaster at the PNE
The Corkscrew Roller Coaster

Ways to Save at the PNE

Similar to most years, in 2018 there were 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 18 & 19, 2018: 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 18 & 19, 2018: The first two days of the fair are also Twoonie Days. Wear your favourite sports team jersey, hat or concert t-shirt and admission costs just $2 between 11 am and 1 pm.
    • August 21 & 28, 2018: 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 22 & 29, 2018: 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 22, 2018: Library Day means that people who show their BC library card and photo ID pay only $6 for gate admission!
    • August 23, 2018: Seniors age 65+ get free admission and Ferris Wheel rides all day.
  • 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 every day of the fair.
  • 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.)
  • 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.

Boyz ll Men Trio on Stage
Boyz ll Men at the PNE in 2018

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.

2018 PNE concert bands included the following:

  • Saturday, August 18 – Boyz II Men
  • Sunday, August 19Air Supply
  • Tuesday, August 21 – Dean Brody
  • Wednesday, August 22 – Goo Goo Dolls
  • Thursday, August 23I love the 90’s Tour
  • Friday, August 24 – Wilson Phillips
  • Saturday, August 25Marianas Trench
  • Sunday, August 26Lost 80’s Live
  • Tuesday, August 28112 Featuring Slim
  • Wednesday, August 29Kool & the Gang
  • Thursday, August 30Jann Arden
  • Friday, August 31 Burton Cummings and Band
  • Saturday, September 1Chicago
  • Sunday, September 2The Village People
  • Monday, September 3 – Cyndi Lauper

Click 2018 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 $15 and $30.

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 2018, click PNE Night Concerts.

Superdogs Ninja Dog
Superdogs in the Pacific Coliseum

Special 2018 PNE Features

In 2018 the Pacific National Exhibition featured some of the fair’s traditional exhibits including its free SuperDogs shows, Kidz Discovery Farm, Duelling Pianos performances and vendor marketplace.

New PNE attractions for 2018 included the following:

  • POPnology – a free exhibit that looks at technology and its influence on and by popular culture. POPnology examines the world’s progression from science fiction to reality and features a DeLorean car from the movie Back to the Future, a 3D-printed automobile and various other interesting displays.
  • Street of Dreams – a display of classic vintage automobiles.
  • Lost World of Dragons – a free exhibit featuring animated dragons in the PNE’s Garden Auditorium.
  • Action Sports World Tour – free skateboarder and BMX bike riding demonstrations at the Pacific Coliseum. Show times are daily at 4:30 and 8:00 pm.
  • Silver Starlets – aerial acrobatic shows in the Festival Park at 12:30, 3:00 and 5:30 pm each day.
  • Knights of Valour – medieval jousting displays in the Agrodome daily at 1:00, 3:00 and 7:00 pm.
  • NOVA: The Emergence of Light – free end-of-day light shows in the Festival Park at 10:15 pm each day.
Knights of Valour Jousting at the PNE
Knights of Valour at the PNE in 2018

Click What’s New to learn more about the PNE’s special new features in 2018.

Other entertainment also took place at the PNE in 2018, including live performances in the Festival Park at noon, 2:00, 5:00, 7:00 and 8:30 pm each day.

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 about $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 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 are the Corkscrew and Wooden Roller Coaster, as well as 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, 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.

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. After that, if you don’t mind going upside down for a second, try the Corkscrew next.

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 coasters 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 $15 to $30 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: