Given the size of Canada, it's no wonder that there are significant climate differences across the country. If you know what it's like in Montreal in the winter, don't expect the same conditions in Vancouver. February can be a wet month in the city, but the good news is that it brings snow to the nearby North Shore mountains, and the ski slopes will be in full swing.
Rainy days in the city can inspire a visit to one of the many museums and galleries in the city, or couples can cuddle up over a romantic dinner in time for Valentine's Day. Hotels are generally quieter outside of Valentine's Day weekend and Family Day, a Canadian holiday that always falls on the third Monday in February.
Vancouver Weather in February
Typical of the Pacific Northwest, February in Vancouver is cold and rainy, although the temperatures are relatively mild compared to other parts of Canada or the Northeast United States.
- Average High: 46 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius)
- Average Low: 37 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius)
So while the temperatures aren't balmy by any definition, even the average low doesn't reach the freezing point. Because of this, snow is very rare in Vancouver, although you can find plenty of it in the surrounding mountains, especially if you travel to a resort area like Whistler.
Rain, on the other hand, is an almost daily occurrence, and the average rainfall over the course of the month is 6.5 inches. However, persistent drizzle is more common than outright downpours. At any rate, don't let it discourage you, as there's plenty to do in Vancouver on a rainy day, such as visiting the museum or aquarium.
What to Pack
Warm layers and waterproof gear are the most important articles to pack. Bring a heavy jacket that's also water-resistant, which you'll likely need every time you go out. Waterproof boots are also important to keep your feet warm and dry; if you don't have a pair, bring a couple of pairs of close-toed shoes and many socks so you can switch them out when necessary.
Warm accessories like gloves, a scarf, and a beanie—or a "toque" as the Canadians say—are also good to bring and are essential if your trip includes an excursion to the mountains. If you'll be skiing, then snow gear, hand warmers, and sunglasses will be important to have as well.
You may notice that despite the rain, there are not many umbrellas on the street. Vancouverites notoriously rebuff using umbrellas, and it's an easy way to pick out who's a local and who's a tourist. In any case, if a rain jacket isn't sufficient to keep you dry, don't be ashamed to pack your favorite travel-sized umbrella, it's better to stand out than be wet and miserable.
February Events in Vancouver
Despite February rain, there are plenty of things to do in and around the city. Vancouverites have learned to embrace the winter weather and truly know how to make the most of a rainy day. In 2021, some events may be canceled or postponed, so check the official organizer's website for the latest details.
- Dine Out Vancouver Festival: A foodie's dream event, this festival from February 5 to March 7, 2021, celebrates everything culinary about Vancouver. More than 300 restaurants will prepare a special three-course fixed menu, which gives visitors a chance to sample the best of local cuisine at lower and more affordable prices.
- PuSh International Performing Arts Festival: PuSh has been a signature Vancouver event since its inception in 2003, highlighting avant-garde performance artists from the local area, around Canada, and abroad. This year's festival runs from January 26 to February 7, 2021, and includes a variety of shows involving in-person theater, music, multimedia, and dance.
- The People's Prom: This Valentine's Day event calls itself "the prom you never had in high school," and caters to individuals in the LGBT community. This radical dance spotlights community involvement and diversity, welcoming all into this raucous and beloved event. And just because it's February 14 doesn't mean you need a date, just a positive attitude and an outlandish outfit. This event has not been rescheduled for 2021.
- Talking Stick Festival: This annual festival celebrating Indigenous art and performance is put on by Full Circle, one of Vancouver's leading First Nations groups. Visitors can experience and learn about Indigenous stories through theater, music, dance, and readings. This event has not been rescheduled for 2021.
February Travel Tips
- February is low-season for visiting the city of Vancouver, so be on the lookout for hotel deals and cheap flights.
- February is a popular time for visiting the nearby mountains, especially Whistler. Visitors come from all over Canada and across the border, so if you're planning to ski or snowboard, book well in advance.
- Forget the car; Vancouver is easy to navigate by foot, bike, or public transportation, but parking downtown is difficult. Beware that there are no ridesharing apps like Uber or Lyft allowed in the city, but traditional taxis are available.
- The Vancouver bike-sharing program, Mobi, is available if you want to quickly move around the city like a local. Register on the Mobi app, and then you can purchase a one day pass with unlimited rides.