April is one of the best times of the year to visit Vancouver, as the city is finally emerging from a collective hibernation to enjoy the oncoming spring weather. Being the Pacific Northwest, April showers are very much a part of life throughout the month, and the weather isn't quite as warm and sunny as you'll find in June, July, or August. But in exchange, you get to visit in the shoulder season before all of the summer tourists arrive and prices soar.
Another benefit of visiting in April is that the month is full of local events as Vancouverites come out to celebrate the warming temperatures. Vancouver is consistently ranked as one of the greenest cities in North America, and more days of sunshine mean more opportunities to enjoy the natural beauty surrounding this British Columbia capital.
Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival
The sight of Vancouver's 40,000 cherry trees blossoming is a welcome sign of the end of winter. The Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival is a month-long event with free events celebrating not only the pink and white flowers but also the beginning of spring. The majority of the cherry blossom festival is housed at the VanDusen Botanical Garden, but there are tours, dances, poetry readings and other events across the city, most of which are free.
As part of the Vancouver Cherry Blossom Festival, Sakura Days Japan Fair celebrates modern and traditional Japan through the tea ceremony, festival food, origami, ikebana (flower arranging), sake tastings, guided hanami tours (flower viewing), and a Haiku Invitational contest. If you've always wanted to experience the cherry blossom festivals of Japan but haven't had a chance to get there, the Vancouver Festival is about as close as you can get without leaving North America.
Vancouver Winter Farmers' Market
Just like many major cities across the U.S. and Canada, there are farmers' markets across Vancouver all summer long, but finding markets to buy fresh produce and other items is more complicated in the winter months. Thankfully, in Vancouver, you have not only one but two farmers' market options to take advantage of during the off-season.
The first is held at Nat Bailey Stadium on Saturdays. This winter farmers' market has dozens of items from local vendors, and you'll find everything from locally grown vegetables and fruit to seafood caught by local fishermen, artisan cheeses, breads, and other baked goods. Local musicians provide entertainment and food trucks offer hot drinks and other snacks to take off the winter chill. Like the cherry blossom festival, admission is free (vendors determine prices for their wares).
If you can't go on Saturday, you can head to Hastings Park on Sunday for another farmers' market. It offers local items just as the Nat Bailey event and is a great opportunity to get out and explore Vancouver as the locals do.
Whistler World Ski & Snowboard Festival
Whistler’s annual World Ski & Snowboard Festival (WSSF) is a 10-day celebration of snow sports, music, arts, and mountain life, and includes the biggest free outdoor concert series in North America. It's held at the nearby Whistler Blackcomb ski resort and other spots in and around Whistler, just north of Vancouver.
This massive event brings out everyone from gold medal Olympians to friends on spring break, in a huge bash to celebrate the end of the ski season with a bang. This annual event has cemented Whistler not only as a winter sports mecca, but also a place to enjoy everything that mountain culture has to offer, through music, visual arts, film-making, and other creative outlets.
Vancouver's annual Vaisakhi Parade and festivities include music, food, singing, and dancing. The region's Sikh community joins others around the world to celebrate Vaisakhi Day, which marks both the New Year and the anniversary of one of Sikhism's most important events, the establishment of Khalsa in 1699 with the first Amrit ceremony. The Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade begins at the Sikh Temple at 8000 Ross Street and occurs in mid-April. Nearby Surrey holds its own Vaisakhi celebrations around the same time.
If you're a lover of Indian cuisine, then this event is much more than just a parade. Part of the Vaisakhi tradition in Punjabi culture is to give out free food during the festivities. Think of it like trick-or-treating on Halloween, but instead of receiving candy, you'll get an entire plate of curry, mango ice cream, and other typical, delicious snacks.
Vancouver Sun Run
The Vancouver Sun Run is the largest 10K racing event in all of Canada, bringing out an enormous group of over 40,000 runners. It's wildly popular, not least of all because the course is so scenic and showcases all of the natural splendor that Vancouver has to offer. Participants run through closed-off streets dedicated to the race, and pass by the world-famous Stanley Park, along the banks of the English Bay, and through the streets of downtown.
After the race, participants are invited to the Wrap Party at the BC Place Stadium with their friends and family, featuring a kids' zone, awards ceremony, and live music entertainment.