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 the February 14 weekend and Family Day, which is the third Monday in February (the same as weekend as President's Day in the U.S.).
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 freezing temperatures, which means snow is very rare in the city of Vancouver (although there is plenty in the surrounding mountains).
Rain, on the other hand, is almost a 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.
What to Pack
Warm layers and waterproof gear are the most important articles to pack. Definitely 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 those, bring a couple of pairs of close-toed shoes and many socks so you can switch them out when necessary.
Warm accessories like beanies, gloves, and a scarf 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 are important to have with you.
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 forget to pack your favorite umbrella, it's better to stand out than be wet and miserable.
February Events in Vancouver
Despite February rain, there's 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.
- Dine Out Vancouver Festival: A foodie's dream event, this 17-day festival from mid-January through early February celebrates everything culinary about Vancouver. More than 200 restaurants prepare a special three-course fixed menu, with prices ranging from 15 to 45 Canadian dollars per person, giving visitors a chance to sample the best of local cuisine at 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 21 to February 9, 2020, and includes a variety of shows involving 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.
- 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. The 19th annual Talking Stick Festival takes place February 18–29, 2020, and visitors can experience and learn about Indigenous stories through theater, music, dance, and readings.
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. There's also no ridesharing apps like Uber or Lyft 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 for only CA$12.