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.

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, it's a little too early to enjoy some of the most popular Canadian festivals and events, which are not yet underway. However, there are diverse fun things to do such as 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. The average high temperature is 65 degrees Fahrenheit (18 degrees Celsius) and the average low temperature is 52 degrees Fahrenheit (11 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. It tends to get less rainy as the month goes on. There are nine average daylight hours in May, but you can still expect most days to be overcast.

What to Pack

While you won't need a winter coat or lots of warm layers, you do need to be prepared for rainy weather. An umbrella, raincoat, or poncho will be necessary and you should also pack close-toed shoes because it will be too cold and wet to get away with 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 night markets to the Cloverdale Rodeo and Country Fair. In 2021, some events may be canceled or postponed so be sure to check with the official organizers for the latest details.

  • 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. This event will be held virtually from May 31 to June 13, 2021.
  • 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. In 2021, all operas are being broadcast online.
  • 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. No date has yet been set for the market in 2021.
  • 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. In 2021, the fair has been canceled.

May Travel Tips

  • Warmer weather means you can experience more Vancouver great outdoor offerings, and although it's still pretty rainy, it's technically one of the city's drier months.
  • Ski season technically ends in May, so there also may still be time to get a few runs in 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 2021 it is on May 24. Government services, schools, and banks close in observance of this holiday.
  • 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.