May in Vancouver: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Vancouver skyline May
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Vancouver, British Columbia, on the Pacific Coast of Canada, is surrounded by mountains and water. Renowned for its extremely scenic location, Vancouver is the third-largest metropolitan area in Canada, after Toronto and Montreal. It has notably different weather conditions from much of the rest of the country, including other popular destinations like Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal.

May in Vancouver is reliably mild but also has several somewhat rainy days during the month. While it's a good time to avoid high summer tourist crowds, the one biggest negative about visiting Vancouver in May is that some of the most popular Canadian festivals and events are not yet underway. However, there are diverse fun things to do such as the Asian-themed Richmond Night Market, the Vancouver Opera Festival, and the Vancouver International Children's Festival.

Vancouver Weather in May

Vancouver experiences a significant warming up in May, with the average temperatures jumping up 6 degrees Fahrenheit (3 degrees Celsius) from the beginning of the month to the end.

  • Average high: 61 degrees Fahrenheit (16 degrees Celsius)
  • Average low: 46 degrees Fahrenheit (8 degrees Celsius)

The British Columbia coast’s climate is the most moderate in Canada, but there is rain—lots of it. In May, it rains in Vancouver about 13 days out of 31, and the average rainfall is 2.7 inches. As you would expect, it is cloudy much of the month. There are nine average daylight hours in May.

What to Pack

While you won't need a winter coat or lots of warm layers, you do need to be prepared for the weather since it is not likely to be sunny and dry the entire time you are in Vancouver. Take an umbrella and trench coat or rain poncho. Pack closed-toe shoes; it's too cool and wet in Vancouver in May for sandals. It is a good idea to bring clothing that is appropriate for mild temperatures like cotton sweaters, long-sleeved shirts and tees, jeans, khaki pants, and a lightweight jacket to wear when it's not raining. Forget about shorts, cropped jeans, and capri pants. The temperatures don't vary much from day to night and you shouldn't need much in the way of a wrap after dark. But bringing pieces you can layer is always helpful when traveling in case Mother Nature throws you a curve.

May Events in Vancouver

While May in Vancouver has relatively few annual events, there are some enjoyable places for family members of all ages to be, from arts and night markets to the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair.

  • Vancouver International Children's Festival: A world-renowned gathering, the Vancouver International Children's Festival has been entertaining and inspiring young audiences since 1978 through music, theater, dance, circus, puppetry, and more. The event usually takes place in late May.
  • Vancouver Opera Festival: Usually held for several days from late April into early May, the festival put on by the biggest opera company in Western Canada is typically held at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre and other city venues. Expect opera and other special events, speakers, and more. 
  • The Richmond Night Market: Vancouver's biggest evening market usually opens the second weekend in May, featuring Asian culture and food, as well as live entertainment and games for the kids on Fridays, Saturdays, and Sundays.
  • Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair: Top cowboys and cowgirls on the professional rodeo circuit compete in traditional rodeo events, plus guests enjoy The West Fine Art Show, go-karts, live entertainment, pig races, and beyond in this event held in late May south of Surrey.

May Travel Tips

  • Warmer weather means you can experience more Vancouver great outdoor offerings, and despite that it rains in May, it is less rainy than average. And even though it's warming up, the spring ski season runs to the end of May at Whistler and other British Columbia ski destinations.
  • Victoria Day is a national holiday in Canada that falls on the Monday before May 25; in 2020 it is on May 18. Government services, schools, and banks close in observance of this holiday. Plus, Victoria Day is a big travel holiday in Canada, so if you are visiting over this holiday weekend, expect heavy traffic on major highways on Friday and Monday, and long lineups at border crossings.
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