Vancouver, British Columbia, is on the Pacific Coast of Canada and surrounded by mountains and water. And it's 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; that includes Calgary, Toronto, and Montreal, three of the country's other popular destinations.
The Rocky Mountain home of Calgary can still get surprise snowstorms in the spring, and Eastern Canada is somewhat unpredictable and can be cold or warm, but Vancouver in May is reliably mild but also somewhat rainy.
May Weather in Vancouver
Vancouver experiences a significant warmup in May, with afternoon highs going from an average of 59 F at the beginning of the month to 65 F by the end. Expect lows of averaging 46 F on May 1 to 52 F by May 31. 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. As you would expect, it is cloudy much of the month.
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. First and foremost, take an umbrella and trenchcoat or rain poncho. Pack closed-toe shoes; it's too cool and wet in Vancouver in May for sandals. Take clothing that is appropriate for mild temperatures like cotton sweaters, long-sleeved shirts and tees, jeans, and khaki pants; forget about shorts, cropped jeans, and capri pants.
Take a lightweight jacket to wear when it's not raining. 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 a good idea when traveling in case Mother Nature throws you a curve.
Vancouver in May Pros and Cons
Warmer weather means you can experience more Vancouver great outdoor offerings, and even though it rains in May, it is less rainy than average. And even though it's warming up, spring ski season runs to the end of May at Whistler and other British Columbia ski destinations. And if you prefer to avoid high summer tourist crowds, May is a good bet. Besides the weather being on the cool and rainy side, the one biggest negative about visiting Vancouver in May is that some of the most popular Canadian festivals and events are not yet underway.
Good to Know
Victoria Day is a national holiday in Canada that falls on the Monday before May 25; in 2018 it is on May 21. Government services, schools, and banks will be closed. Plus Victoria Day weekend is a big travel holiday in Canada. Expect heavy traffic on major highways on the Friday and Monday of this weekend and long lineups at border crossings.
May Highlights and Events
While May in Vancouver has relatively few annual events, a couple are of note:
- Vancouver International Children's Festival: A world-renowned festival of performing arts for young audiences, the Vancouver International Children's Festival has been educating, entertaining, and inspiring young audiences since 1978. It's happening from May 28 to June 3, 2018.
- Cloverdale Rodeo and Exhibition (south of Surrey): Top cowboys and cowgirls on the professional rodeo circuit compete in traditional rodeo events including bareback, saddle, bronco, and bull riding from May 18 through 21, 2018.