You can celebrate Canada Day anywhere but there are few better places to do it than in the country’s prettiest western city: Vancouver. The festival takes place each year on 1st July and is an experience you can easily dip and out of through Vancouver’s straightforward public transport system and compact downtown area.
Canada Day is a federal statutory holiday that celebrates the signing of the British North America Act in 1867 (now called the Constitution Act) that united three colonies into a single country. But away from the legalities and treaties, Canada Day celebrates all that Canadians adore about being Canadian.
I’d heard in advance that Vancouver was a picturesque city, but I hadn’t realised just how beautiful it was until the plane came into land. This energetic, cosmopolitan port city on the west coast of British Colombia glistens amid deep green mountains and a sparkling coastline that leads to the Pacific. All told, Vancouver is a world class city with magnificent scenery, heritage, history and plenty of innovation to make sure the place never grows stale.
During the festival, the city spills red and white maple leaf flags across streets, cafes and cheeks in the form of face paint. Bands perform all day long in the aptly named Canada Place and vendors rustle up pancake breakfasts galore over on atmospheric Granville Island. It’s all a family friendly affair that can develop into harder partying in only a few spots around town.
A city made for outdoor adventure, take advantage of sunny days seeing cyclists, sailors and paddle boarders making their move around the clean and gridlike streets and waterways. Pack some snug shoes and walk around the Downtown area. Zodiac tours from Sea Vancouver race around the shoreline, while for a steadier sightseeing trip you can hire a bike and tackle the slopes of local’s favourite Stanley Park. A walking tour through the Prohibition era landmarks with Forbidden Vancouver shares tales about burlesque shows and speakeasies and how the suffragette movement actually helped to bring an end to the dry nature of BC. The tour finishes near the historic Gastown and Chinatown neighbourhoods where cocktail bars and scarlet arches hint at the city’s changing populations over the years.
The highlight of Canada Day for many involves the fireworks that scatter across the sky at the end of a maple leaf day; ensure that you don’t miss it.
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