Summer is the top season to visit Vancouver, British Columbia, and the rest of Canada, for that matter. Not only are people flocking by plane, train, and car to this West Coast city, but cruise ship passengers are also settling in for a night or two. If you're planning to visit in July, the good news is you will almost certainly bask in its sunny, warm weather and, since it is prime tourist season, many others will join you.
July brings outdoor music and beach festivals and Canada Day celebrations. The residents of Vancouver are an active bunch and in the summer, they flock to the surrounding mountains and bodies of water for recreation and exercise. So not only will it be crowded with travelers, but the locals also be making their presence felt at Vancouver's many attractions, trails, and parks.
Vancouver Weather in July
July in Vancouver has the fewest rainy days (four on average) and the most hours of sunlight of the year. That's an important note in a city famous for its rainy days. There's only moderate humidity, and it is warm and comfortable. The average afternoon high in Vancouver in July, the hottest month of the year, is a very pleasant 74 degrees Fahrenheit, with the nighttime low a comfy 54 degrees.
What to Pack
It's super easy to pack for this kind of extremely mild and dry weather. Take long pants, capris, and jeans; short-sleeved shirts or tees; a lightweight jacket, sweater, or shawl for evenings dining alfresco or wandering around the city; and both sandals and closed-toe shoes. Bring shorts and a swimsuit, too; it might not be quite warm enough to wear them, but it could be, and you'll be sorry if you've left them at home. Even if it doesn't rain much, relatively speaking for Vancouver, it still might, so pack an umbrella just in case. Don't forget sunglasses along with sunscreen.
July Events in Vancouver
Besides the perfect weather, July is the top time to visit Vancouver because there are festivals galore and lots of waterfront activities to enjoy. Vancouver is surrounded by water, and there are plenty of beach options. It's also patio season in Vancouver, and grabbing a bite to eat or having a drink on an appealing patio or deck space is a nice way to while the afternoon or evening, especially if the spot is scenic. Try the Boat House in English Bay at sunset for a memorable Vancouver experience.
July 1 is Canada Day, the main national public holiday of Canada, akin to the Fourth of July in the U.S. A federal statutory holiday, Canada Day marks the anniversary of July 1, 1867, the date of the Constitution Act of 1867 which served to unite the three separate colonies of the Province of Canada, Nova Scotia, and New Brunswick under a new country called Canada. It's a day off for most, with banks and most stores closing, and a time to take to the beaches, parks, and family-friendly attractions.
Besides the beaches, mountains, and museums, there are special annual events that take place every July in Vancouver of interest to visitors.
- Bard on the Beach: Check out two Shakespeare productions against a backdrop of sea, sky, and mountains all during July. (The program runs June through September.)
- Dancing on the Edge: This festival of contemporary dance presents 30 programs by 20 different Canadian dance companies and happens annually over several days in July.
- Celebration of Light: Catch the city's biggest live celebration at the end of July, which promises fabulous food, live music, and fireworks to light up the night.
- Vancouver Folk Music Festival: If you're a folkie, consider planning your visit to Vancouver around this annual three-day folk fest.
- Stanley Park: This magnificent urban park that includes cliffs and water views has much to offer kids, from kiddie driving lessons to a farmyard and a free water park. It's also a superb location for some biking and a picnic.
- International Jazz Festival: You can catch the tail end of the Coastal Jazz and Blues Society's annual festival which usually runs through July 1. The festival features a wide range of blues, roots, and jazz musicians at venues throughout Vancouver.
- The African Descent Festival, taking place in Thornton Park, celebrates the cultural diversity of people of African Descent within Vancouver and is a great way to enjoy and learn about different cultures and countries from Africa. Visitors will enjoy the crafts, music, and marketplace.
- Carnaval del Sol, at Concord Pacific Place, is the biggest Latin festival in the Pacific Northwest. Visitors enjoy two days of live music, art, dance, and celebration of Latin American Culture.
- The Illuminares Lantern Festival, held annually the last Saturday of July, draws over 30,000 people to Trout Lake in John Hendry Park. Before the big event, there are workshops where everyone can make a unique paper lantern for the festival. Even if you don't have a lantern, consider this spectacular event and its activities like the lantern parade, fire-breather shows, and live music.
Since July is so popular in Vancouver, you'll find airfares and hotel room rates at their peak, so book early.
When shopping in Vancouver, Canada, be prepared for the 7 percent Provincial Sales Tax (PST) as well as a federal 5 percent Goods and Services Tax (GST). Liquor tax is 10 percent PST and hotels and motels charge 8 percent PST plus a hotel tax on top of that. Some goods such as food and restaurant meals are GST and/or PST exempt. There are no rebate programs allowing for refunds to non-Canadian visitors for taxes they have paid.