The Pacific National Exhibition, or PNE, has been an annual Vancouver fair for over 100 years. It has rides, shows, farm animals, midway games and concerts.
The PNE Fair takes place during the last three or so weeks of the summer each year. In 2023 it ran from August 19th until September 4th. The PNE’s late summer dates for 2024 are to be confirmed.
The next big event at the PNE is Fright Nights which runs from October 6th until October 31st for the Halloween season. For full details about that event, visit frightnights.ca. This year, the haunted houses and Halloween-themed event celebrates its 20th anniversary!
To learn about the PNE Fair at the end of the summer, see below or visit the pne.ca website.
This article contains details about the following:
General PNE Information | Admission | Ways to Save | Summer Concerts | Concerts | Special Features | PNE Rides | PNE Ride Tips | PNE Prize Home | General Tips & Advice | PNE Video | PNE at Christmas | 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.
The PNE Fair in Vancouver
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 2023 the fair ran on most days between August 19th and September 4th.
The PNE has all of Playland‘s usual midway and various amusement rides. What’s more though are all the tantalizing food stalls, the live entertainment 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. You’ll have a great time!
PNE events at other times of the year include Playland, Fright Nights and the PNE Winter Fair. Lots of other private events use the venue too. For a list of what’s happening and when throughout the year, click Vancouver Events at the PNE.
For tickets and full details about the PNE Fair, see the official PNE.ca website.
Admission to the PNE
Admission to the fair for 2023 was $25 at the gate for visitors ages 19 to 64. Seniors and folks ages 13 to 18 cost $16. Passes at the gate for children ages 4 to 12 cost $9. Admission is typically free for children ages 3 and under.
Playland Fair Ride passes for all-day access to the amusement rides were about $55 for most folks in 2023. There was also a secondary pass option at $44 for people shorter than 48 inches tall or those less interested in the bigger rides.
Ways to Save at the PNE
There are usually several ways to save money at the PNE. They include going on special discounted days, saving with partner memberships, buying your tickets in advance, and other ways.
Ways to Save at the PNE
In 2023, admission tickets purchased online in advance were $2 to $5 cheaper than what they cost at the gate. Ride passes were $5 cheaper when purchased online!
There are typically other ways to save as well. Members of the BC Automobile Association (BCAA) previously received a 30% discount on both general admission and ride passes.
In addition, on Fridays in previous years, if you showed proof that you took public transit to the fair you got 2-for-1 admission! This deal was only available at the gate to the first 5,000 guests that showed their Compass card or proof of fare.
Hopefully these discounts return in 2024. Exact details, however, are to be confirmed.
For tickets and full details about the PNE Fair, see the official PNE.ca website.
PNE Summer Night Concerts
Most years, the PNE hosts live outdoor concerts by rock bands of yesteryear, as well as the occasional country and rock groups still big in the present day.
There weren’t any concerts in 2020 because of COVID-19, and the 2021 music lineup was on a smaller scale without any massive headliners. In 2022 performers included Blue Rodeo, Barenaked Ladies, Nelly, the Beach Boys and other famous artists.
To find out who performed in 2023, continue reading.
Click PNE Summer Concerts for more details!
PNE Summer Night Concerts in 2023 were held on the Chevrolet Stage in the PNE Amphitheatre. The concerts started at 8:30 pm and ran on most days during the fair. All concerts in the series were paid events. General admission to the fair was also required.
The lineup of PNE Summer Night Concerts in 2023 was as follows:
- Saturday, August 19th, 2023 – TLC
- Sunday, August 20th, 2023 – Boyz II Men
- Tuesday, August 22nd, 2023 – Tenille Townes
- Wednesday, August 23rd, 2023 – Boney M featuring Maizie Williams
- Thursday, August 24th, 2023 – Yung Gravy & bbno$
- Friday, August 25th, 2023 – Billy Talent
- Saturday, August 26th, 2023 – AQUA
- Sunday, August 27th, 2023 – Billy Idol
- Tuesday, August 29th, 2023 – Pink Martini featuring China Forbes
- Wednesday, August 30th, 2023 – Doug and the Slugs with the VSO
- Thursday, August 31st, 2023 – Pat Benatar & Neil Giraldo
- Friday, September 1st, 2023 – Jason Derulo
- Saturday, September 2nd, 2023 – Stars of Drag
- Sunday, September 3rd, 2023 – Walk off the Earth
- Monday, September 4th, 2023 – Blue Rodeo: 30 Years In July
Click PNE Summer Concerts for more details!
Special PNE Features
In 2023 the PNE featured some of the fair’s traditional exhibits including its free SuperDogs shows, farm displays and the vendor marketplace.
PNE attractions for 2023 included the following:
- Agriculture Displays – as always a small farm was put together in the fair’s Livestock Barns, which gave people the chance to learn about the different animals and equipment in an interactive way.
- Animal Flix – every night you could watch funny pet videos on a large outdoor screen in the Toon City zone.
- Blue’s Dance Party – children could enjoy singing and dancing with Blue the Bear and his friends at the Toon City Stage.
- Challenger Map – the Fraser Valley section of the BC Relief Map was on display in the Pacific Coliseum.
- Dinosaurs Around the World – an outdoor exhibit where you could learn about the geological history of the earth through the eyes of several large dinosaur models.
- For the Love of Drag – various “queens” performed favourite Pop songs in full drag.
- The Flying Fools – fearless acrobatic divers put on an exciting show at 2:00 pm, 3:30 pm and 6:30 pm every day.
- Knights of Valour – a medieval experience with entertaining jousting took place most days at 1:00 pm, 3:00 pm and 7:15 pm.
- Marketplace – one of the traditional PNE features, there were over 90 exhibitors to explore and a wide variety of products on offer.
- Monet Art Exhibition – an immersive multimedia experience that featured the works of Claude Monet.
- Remix Inferno (A Pyro Music Spectacular) – the skies were illuminated with musical mash-ups at 9:30 every night.
- Taste Showcase – live daily culinary demonstrations and market vendors with a focus on local chefs and ingredients. There was also a bar and live music.
- The SuperDogs – one of the most popular attractions every year, these highly talented dogs wowed crowds with their tricks at 12:30 pm, 2:30 pm and 6:00 pm each day.
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.
PNE Amusement Ride Prices
For a list of some of the rides at the PNE, and descriptions of each, see our article about Playland Rides.
In 2023, all-day ride passes cost $55 at the gate for individuals who wanted access to all the available rides during the PNE. Some of them were restricted to individuals at least 4 feet tall (i.e. 120 centimetres). For the younger ones or for those who weren’t interested in the bigger rides, there was also a “Fun Pass” that cost $44 and granted access to just a select number of family-friendly rides.
Below we categorize the different rides usually operating at the PNE. 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 spins.
PNE Kids Rides
PNE rides for little kids in a typical year 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 to 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, 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. Another popular ride is the Flume, which is a log chute-style ride where you get wet at the end.
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.
Serious PNE Rides
Some of the more serious rides at the PNE include the Atmosfear, Breakdance, the Crazy Beach Party, Gladiator and Music Express. They all rip around pretty fast! The Wooden Roller Coaster is also a serious ride when it is available.
The most serious rides at the PNE are, arguably, the Beast, Enterprise, Hell’s Gate and Hellevator. They are all pretty impressive!
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 bungee-style, and with the other, you are spun around and around from ground level way up into the sky.
For more information about the various rides, click Playland Rides Descriptions.
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. It’s an especially popular ride when the weather is hot.
TIP #2: For folks who 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. It’s fun and a little crazy, but nothing too extreme.
TIP #4: In our opinion, the ride most likely to give you a heart attack is the Hellevator, followed by the Wooden Roller Coaster in years when it’s available. Rides most likely to make you queasy 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.
PNE Prize Home Lottery
Every summer the PNE has a lottery where ticket purchasers can win a dream home as well as other valuable prizes. The PNE Prize Home is usually built on the grounds of the Pacific National Exhibition and during the PNE Fair in the summer people can go inside and look around.
Most years, after the fair ends and the lucky ticket is drawn, the house is moved to another location, usually outside the Lower Mainland. In 2021, however, the house was built and could be viewed at its permanent address. This was the case in 2022 as well, and the same happened again in 2023. Tours were available in Langley, the site of the prize home in 2023, on select weekends in the summer. Despite that, there is still a display on-site at the fair that you can visit for a taste of what the main prize home is like.
In addition to the house, other prizes in the lottery typically include cars, vacations and cash.
To learn more about the lottery, see our article about the PNE Prize Home Lottery.
General Tips & Advice
Here are some more tips and suggestions on how to make the most 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 sights and entertainment. If you just want the rides, then you can go to Playland when the PNE isn’t taking place. Go in May, June, July, early August or late September.
TIP #2: If you don’t like crowds, then the Pacific National Exhibition might not be the best place to go as it is such a popular place. Good times to avoid the masses though include rainy days and in the evenings from about 7:30 pm until 9:30 pm while everyone is at the concerts.
TIP #3: The PNE always has a big selection of food available for purchase. In 2023 there was a new Taste of the Fair menu with items that cost $10 or less. There are plenty of other options as well. For full details see the PNE Fair Food page.
For a look at some of the many great things to see and do at the Pacific National Exhibition, check out the video below.
PNE Christmas and Other Winter Events
The PNE is most famous for its end-of-summer Fair and Playland rides. The place hosts major events at other times of the year too though, including at Christmas. A few years ago it was the host venue for the Aurora Winter Festival. It hosted the Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival before that. In 2021 the Pacific National Exhibition held the PNE WinterLights drive-through event.
In 2022 the venue hosted the PNE Winter Fair, and the same event is happening again in 2023. The Christmas-themed event runs from December 8th to 9th, and again from December 14th to the 23rd. At the event people enjoy holiday illuminations, festive food, an outdoor market, ice skating and live entertainment.
Admission to the PNE Winter Fair in 2023 is between $12 and $30 depending on your age and when you buy your tickets.
To learn more see our article about the PNE Winter Fair.
In 2023, 626,531 people attended the PNE Fair in the summer. This compares with 529,772 people who attended in 2022 and 730,000 which was the last year before the COVID-19 pandemic struck.
For more information about Playland and the PNE, check out the following:
- Playland (Vancouver’s summer amusement park when the PNE isn’t happening)
- PNE Concert Lineup
- Playland Rides
For information on the PNE in October, click PNE Fright Nights at Halloween.
Other articles that may be of interest include the following:
- Labour Day Long Weekend
- Vancouver’s August and September Calendars
- Festivals & Events Calendar
- Vancouver’s Top 100 Places
- Best Places for Children