Five family activities to do on Victoria Day long weekend


It’s not quite a post-pandemic world yet, but there is plenty to do this Victoria Day long weekend.

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The Victoria Day long weekend usually means camping trips, barbecues, and family getaways. This year, COVID-19 allows us to stay close to home and stop the big events that typically herald the start of summer, which means no Playland or Cloverdale Rodeo.

It’s not quite a post-pandemic world yet, but there are a bunch of COVID-safe family activities to be had this weekend, including these:

1. make a splash

A lifeguard on duty as a man swims lengths at Kitsilano Pool in Vancouver (Photo: Arlen Redekop / PNG)
A lifeguard on duty as a man swims lengths at Kitsilano Pool in Vancouver (Photo: Arlen Redekop / PNG) Photo by Arlen Redekop /PNG

Just in time for the long weekend, Vancouver will open three outdoor pools on May 22: the Kitsilano Saltwater Pool and the New Brighton and Second Beach kid-friendly pools with their sloping beach-style entrances.

You will need to plan ahead as the pools are reducing their maximum capacities due to COVID-19. Prior registration is required: Public swimmers can reserve a 90-minute block, while length swimmers can reserve 45-minute blocks. Come ready to swim; the changing rooms will be closed.

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If the sea is more your style, lifeguards will begin patrolling and supervising swimming areas at 10 beaches, including English Bay, Jericho, Kitsilano, Locarno, Spanish Banks East and West, Sunset, Second, Third and Trout Lake.

For the little ones, amusement parks are opening in a park near you: MacLean, Chaldecott, Connaught, Harbor Green, Grandview, Hastings, Oak, Stanley, Prince Edward, Pandora and Garden parks.

Pre-registration is also required in Surrey, which opened some of its outdoor pools earlier than usual. Three pools now open are the Sunnywide, Greenaway, and Bear Creek Pools.

2. Be cultivated

Vincent Van Gogh's Sunflowers is one of the many Van Gogh masterpieces that are part of Imagine Van Gogh: The Immersive Exhibition taking place at the Vancouver Convention Center.  (Photo: Laurence Labat)
Vincent Van Gogh’s Sunflowers is one of the many Van Gogh masterpieces that are part of Imagine Van Gogh: The Immersive Exhibition taking place at the Vancouver Convention Center. (Photo: Laurence Labat) Photo by Laurence Labat /PNG

If you’ve ever wanted to visit museums in your own city, now is the time to do so when there are no lines or crowds.

Put on a mask and discover the exhibits at Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver. Exhibits include Pictures and Promises, a lens-based collection from the gallery’s photographic collections. Timed entry tickets can be purchased online or at the gallery.

Or immerse yourself in a starry night or in a field of sunflowers at Imagine Van Gogh: the immersive exhibition at the Vancouver Convention Center. The exhibition, which features the Dutch master’s impressionist works on giant screens and on the floor, is winning praise (and “grams). It was sold out, but an extended run means there are still tickets available this weekend. The show is indoors, but at 25,000 square feet, the showroom provides ample space for social distancing. Admission with timed entry. Tickets must be purchased online.

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If the inside isn’t your jam right now, the Burnaby Village Museum is an outdoor recreation of a small town from the 1920s. One of its exhibits, Across the Pacific, contains stories, artifacts and photographs on the history and heritage of Chinese Canadians in Burnaby. Free entry, but prior reservation required.

3. A good time of flowering

Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens in Vancouver (Photo: Jason Payne / PNG)
Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Gardens in Vancouver (Photo: Jason Payne / PNG) Photo by Jason Payne /PNG

When COVID hit last year, demand for seeds and gardening supplies skyrocketed. But if you don’t want to get the job done, enjoy the fruits of other people’s labor by visiting one of the many local gardens while they are the most varied and vibrant.

Spring in VanDusen Botanical Garden stands for colorful rhododendrons, magnolias, camellias and many other flowers, plants and greenery. Or, you can stroll through the lush UBC Botanical Garden, which has the Greenheart Treewalk, a 310-meter-long canopy walkway that hangs between century-old firs and cedars. If you miss travel, you can transport yourself to Asia at Nitobe Memorial Garden, also at the University of British Columbia, or at the Classical Gardens of Dr Sun Yat-Sen, a quiet oasis in downtown Vancouver’s Chinatown.

VanDusen and Sun Yat-Sen Gardens require visitors to purchase their tickets and reserve an entrance time online. UBC Gardens recommend advance purchase, but tickets can be purchased on site if available.

4. Outdoor artistic adventures

The Proud Youth of Artist Chen Wenling (Photo: Vancouver Biennale)
The Proud Youth of Artist Chen Wenling (Photo: Vancouver Biennale)

No need to be stuck inside to enjoy art on a hot sunny day. The Vancouver Biennale organizes BIKEnnale / WALKennale 2021, which features up to 40 self-guided public art walking and biking tours dotted around the city, including one of its latest installations, the eye-catching Proud Youth along the Yaletown Seawall. Register (with a minimum donation of $ 5) to access the tours. Then, end the day with an alfresco meal of picnic-ready takeout.

5. Drive and pull

A food truck vendor at the drive-thru of the Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival in Chilliwack (Photo credit: Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival Facebook page)
A food truck vendor at the drive-thru of the Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival in Chilliwack (Photo credit: Greater Vancouver Food Truck Festival Facebook page)

Who would have thought that food trucks and drive-thrus together would be a thing? Thanks to COVID, it is. This weekend, the Metro Vancouver Food Truck Festival drive-thru takes place in Surrey.

About two dozen vendors will be stationed at the North Surrey secondary car park for two days, May 22-23. Hunky Bill’s perogies. Free entrance.

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