There is usually a lot to do on the Thanksgiving Long Weekend in Vancouver most years. There’s so much to be thankful for, and so many places to explore.
2020 is not a usual year, however, because of COVID-19. There are still things to do on the October long weekend, but not as much as in typical years.
Best things to do this holiday season include hanging out with close family and, weather permitting, spending time in area parks and nature outdoors. Pumpkin Patches and Corn Mazes are also popular places to visit. Halloween is also just around the corner.
Halloween-related events happening on the Thanksgiving weekend include HowlOver Canada shows at FlyOver Canada, autumn activities at Maan Farms, Lost Souls of Gastown walking tours with Forbidden Vancouver, outdoor adventures with Vancouver Mysteries, and PNE rides and Halloween fun at Slayland.
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Thanksgiving in the Lower Mainland
Got family and friends visiting from out of town the weekend of October 9th to 12th in 2020? When not sitting around the table eating turkey, go out and explore this great region of the world. Whatever you do though, don’t forget to wear a mask and to maintain physical distancing whenever appropriate. Also, remember to keep your “bubble” small.
There are parks to visit, autumn colours to admire and Halloween attractions to check out. There are also usually markets, festivals and spawning salmon to see, plus so much more.
Thanksgiving Weekend Special Events
A number of festivals and special events happen on the Thanksgiving Long Weekend in a typical year. Below is a list of events that are still scheduled to take place in 2020. We also list a few events that have been cancelled. Our list includes Halloween-related events, Thanksgiving runs, autumn-themed activities and other events.
- Forbidden Vancouver – Lost Souls of Gastown and other walking tours take place daily each year in downtown Vancouver. (This event IS HAPPENING in 2020.)
- Mystery Nights – a detective crime-solving game for groups of 2-6 players happens every evening in October 2020. It’s kind of like an escape room game, except it takes place in the Streets of Gastown. (This event IS HAPPENING in 2020.)
- Halloween at FlyOver Canada – a family-friendly multi-dimensional film shows at Canada Place in October each year. Normally it’s on for just the last couple of weeks or so of the month. It runs every day in October this year though. This year’s show is also slightly different from previous years.
- Fright Nights – haunted houses and Halloween fun for older folk take place most years at the PNE (but not in 2020). Although no haunted houses are running at the PNE this year, Slayland is happening in 2020. With this new event people can dress up in costume, admire the Halloween decor and have fun on 20 different amusement rides. There just aren’t any haunted houses. First weekend of the event in 2020 is October 9th to 11th.
- Halloween at Maan Farms – the farm in Abbotsford hosts its Haunted Corn Maze again in 2020. It’s a scary outdoor attraction that’s popular with fright seekers. The farm hosts other activities that are suitable for younger children too. They include the farm’s Pumpkin Patch & Corn Maze.
- Vancouver Halloween Parade – a parade featuring people dressed as superheroes, Japanese anime characters, zombies and other fun things in downtown Vancouver. It took place last year on Sunday, October 13th, starting at 11 am. (This event has been cancelled for 2020.)
- Vancouver Halloween Expo – vendor stalls, entertainment and Halloween-themed activities at Robson Square on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday most years. (This event has been cancelled for 2020.)
- Halloween Pumpkin Express – child-friendly miniature train rides at Bear Creek Park in Surrey. (To be confirmed for 2020.)
- Potter’s House of Horrors – a couple of haunted houses 12530 72nd Avenue in Surrey. (Not happening in 2020.)
- Reapers – a haunted attraction that was open on the Thanksgiving Weekend last year at 9423 Gibson Road in Chilliwack. (To be confirmed for 2020.)
- Haunt of Edgemont – a professional-quality haunted house at a residential home in North Vancouver. Admission is by donation benefiting the BC Professional Firefighters’ Burn Fund. (This attraction is NOT happening in 2020 due to COVID-19, although the outside of the house will still be decorated.)
- Granville Island Turkey Trot – a 10 km Thanksgiving run, walk or stroll on Granville Island. (This run is happening as a virtual event this year.)
- Surrey Turkey Trot – a 5 km run and 400 metre kids’ dash at Bear Creek Park on the holiday Monday. (As of late September, this event doesn’t appear to be happening this year. Check the official website though for the most up-to-date details.)
- Corn Mazes – a number of Lower Mainland farms offer kid-friendly corn maze-related activities from late summer until early to mid-fall (so on the Thanksgiving weekend most years too, including in 2020).
- Pumpkin Patches – pumpkin fields and kid-friendly activities take place at various farms around the Lower Mainland in October, including over the holiday weekend. Most of them are also still happening in 2020.
- Vancouver Oktoberfest – a German-themed party at the Vancouver Alpen Club. It usually takes place on several different weekends in October. (This event does not appear to be happening in 2020.)
- Harvest Haus – an adults-only German-themed Oktoberfest event at the Pacific National Exhibition fairgrounds (but in an area separate from Fright Nights and the main rides). 2019 dates included October 10th to 12th and 18th to 19th. (This event is NOT happening in 2020.)
- Harvestland – an autumn-themed event that’s suitable for people of all ages at the PNE fairgrounds. It ran daily from October 10th until the 20th last year. (This event is NOT happening in 2020.)
- Fort Langley Cranberry Festival – one of Fort Langley’s most popular events of the year was on Saturday October 12th in 2019. (Note: This event has been cancelled for 2020 due to the coronavirus.)
- BC Culture Days – a series of arts and cultural events take place around the Lower Mainland in October each year. The events are happening in 2020, although many of them are taking place online this year.
- Classic & Custom Car Show – fancy cars are on display at the Tradex Centre in Abbotsford on the Friday, Saturday and Sunday of October 9th to 11th in 2020. The event was originally going to happen in April, 2020, but got postponed until Thanksgiving due to the COVID-19 virus pandemic in the spring.
- Lower Mainland Farmers Markets – Thanksgiving is a celebration of the harvest season. It’s also the end of the season for a number of local farmers markets (although some continue for a few more weeks). Markets happening this year on the Thanksgiving weekend include ones in Abbotsford, Ambleside, Burnaby, Coquitlam, Fort Langley, Kitsilano, Maple Ridge, Squamish, Trout Lake, the West End, Whistler and White Rock.
- Vancouver International Film Festival – films from all over the world were shown at various theatres around town up until the Friday of the Thanksgiving Weekend in 2019. (In 2020 the event runs from September 24th until October 7th, so it ends before the long weekend. Also, because of COVID-19, it is a virtual event with films being shown online instead of in movie theatres.)
Thanksgiving Autumn Activities
The Thanksgiving Long Weekend provides a great opportunity to spend time with friends and family enjoying traditional autumn activities, like exploring the outdoors and admiring the fall colours. Great places to do this include the following:
- Vancouver Parks: best places to admire the fall colours this time of year include Stanley Park and Bear Creek Park. For more ideas on where to see the fall colours, check out Vancouver’s Best Places in Autumn.
- Fort Langley Cranberry Festival – a family-oriented event at Fort Langley on the Saturday of the October long weekend (but not in 2020 due to COVID-19).
- Farmers Markets: It’s harvest time and close to the end of the season for farmers markets that haven’t closed down already:
- Saturday Farmers Markets to still check out include those in Abbotsford, Burnaby, Fort Langley, Lonsdale Quay, Maple Ridge, Squamish, Trout Lake and the West End.
- Sunday Farmers Markets still open include those at Ambleside, Coquitlam, Kitsilano and White Rock. Also, final markets of the season are at Mt. Pleasant and Whistler.
- It’s not a farmers market, but the Thanksgiving weekend is also usually the last chance of the season to visit the Richmond Night Market most years (although not in 2020). Not a lot of autumn leaves to see there, but nice places to visit in that part of the Lower Mainland include Richmond’s Minoru Park and the Steveston Village area along the waterfront.
- Lower Mainland Pumpkin Patches: popular places for pumpkin-themed fun include Maan Farms in Abbotsford, the Bose Corn Maze in Surrey, the Chilliwack Corn Maze and Petey’s Pumpkin Patch in the Fraser Valley, and multiple other venues.
- Fishing and Salmon Viewing: the lakes are getting stocked this time of year throughout the Lower Mainland and there is usually great salmon viewing at the Capilano River Hatchery in North Vancouver.
Thanksgiving Weekend Halloween Activities
In addition to Thanksgiving, October is also the month for Halloween. A number of Halloween attractions are open this weekend (as mentioned above).
Halloween events running on the holiday weekend in 2020 include Slayland at the PNE, HowlOver Canada at FlyOver Canada at Canada Place, and the Haunted Corn Maze and the pumpkin patch and fall activities at Maan Farms in Abbotsford. Forbidden Vancouver and Vancouver Mysteries are also running Halloween-related events in downtown Vancouver.
Halloween-themed events that normally happen on the Thanksgiving weekend, but NOT in 2020 because of COVID-19, include Fright Nights at the PNE, the Haunted Village in Burnaby and Potter’s House of Horrors in Surrey.
For more ideas on Halloween things to do this month, check out the following:
- Vancouver Children’s Halloween Activities
- Adult Halloween Activities
- Vancouver Haunted Houses
- Rainy Day Activities
- Vancouver Pumpkin Patches
For other ideas on things to do at other times this month, check out Vancouver’s Best Places’ October Calendar.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Best Places in Autumn
- Vancouver’s November Calendar
- Vancouver on a Budget
- Lower Mainland Corn Mazes
- Vancouver Parks and Nature
- What’s Open in COVID-19 Vancouver
Whatever you end up doing, we hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving! For those of us that live in Vancouver, we have a lot to be thankful for!