The ultimate guide to Vancouver’s PNE

by Grace McRae-Okine

Open Saturday August 19th through Monday September 4th, The Fair at the PNE delivers rides, live shows, attractions, games, food and much more. If you’re not already an annual visitor to B.C.’s longest-running summer event at the Pacific National Exhibition, add this to your top things to do in Vancouver this summer. [Photo credit: Tourism Vancouver/PNE]

The ultimate guide to Vancouver’s PNE

Canada 150

This year brings many Canada 150 celebrations to Vancouver as Canada celebrates its 150th birthday. Visit the Canada Showcase daily in Festival Park to catch dance, music and special guest performances highlighting a variety of diverse Canadian talent. Other Canada 150 events include the Kaleidoscope on Parade, a visually-stimulating daily parade. If you are planning to visit with young children in tow, these events are sure-fire crowd pleasers for guests of all ages.

Thrills and spills

New to the ride lineup this year are the Dizzy Drop (great for more adventurous young ones) and Bug Whirled (a family-friendly roller coaster in ladybug-painted cars). If sheer terror is more your schtick, don’t miss The Beast, a pendulum ride that swings 120 degrees in either direction, reaching almost 12-storeys high and at speeds of 90 kilometres per hour. Take a spin on the classics such as The Pirate Ship (a Fair staple since 1984) and the iconic Wave Swinger, a perfect way to cool down from the late summer heat.

Attractions and concerts

There are so many live shows and attractions taking place during The Fair at the PNE – and many of them are free with admission, making it easy on your wallet. It would be impossible to catch them all, so here are our suggestions of the ones to mark as “not to miss” this year.

  • Xtreme Bugs (free with admission): Over 110 static and 19 animatronic critters and creatures make up this outdoor experience. Learn about insect life in a fun, family-friendly environment.
  • Toytopia (free with admission): New this year, play with a wide array of retro and well-loved vintage games, including the world’s largest Etch-a-Sketch and an exclusive LEGO train layout.
  • Craft Beer Festival ($5 in advance, $7 on site): While the city-wide Craft Beer Week wound down in early June, this is another chance to get in on all the hoppy and malty action. For some 19+ fun, head to the Italian Garden any day of The Fair to sample craft brews from up to 30 participating breweries. If you favour grapes over grain, new this year is – you guessed it – local wineries. Your sampling mug is included with the price of admission.
  • Summer Nights Concerts (free with admission): Happening nightly at 8:30 pm at the PNE Amphitheatre, cut a rug at the Summer Nights Concerts series. This event has something for everyone, with the 2017 lineup including iconic acts such as The B-52s, The Pointer Sisters, Chicago, Rick Springfield, ZZ Top and The Gipsy Kings. For country lovers, don’t miss Billy Currington performing August 20th. Vancouver’s Mother Mother kicks off the lineup on August 19th. While concerts are free with admission, you can reserve a seat starting from only $20, and new this year, you can reserve an entire private party suite.

Foodie fun

While classic carnival food staples is what brings the crowds year in and year out, there is truly something for everyone to enjoy at The Fair at the PNE this year. Whether you’re salivating for barbecued meats, looking for fresh and local vegan treats, or eager to sample every iteration of deep-fried dough known to human kind, you will certainly find what you’re looking for. Let your inner foodie binge on all the delicious eats (and Instagram picture-perfect treats).

  • Stop by Those Little Donuts for your plain or cinnamon-sugar coated mini doughnut fix. The Red Velvet Mini Donuts booth serves up variations on the original, with a sticky halzelnut spread glaze mini doughnut stack already cementing itself a Fair favourite. Looking for one more twist on the classic? Visit Cloud Nine Mini Donuts to sample a frozen dolce caramel cream popsicle with real mini doughnut chunks. Yum!
  • As one would expect from a food fair in Vancouver, there are plenty of international flavours. International Perogies come in Greek, Mexican, Canadian, Japanese and many more styles, while the Jamaican Mi Juicy booth features mouth-watering Caribbean flavours in their jerk chicken, beef and vegetable patties. Curry in a Hurry serves up meal-sized plates of pakoras, curries and samosas. New this year are Dim Sum, The Crazy Italian and more. Dig in!
  • Fresh, sweet and best eaten directly off the cob, don’t miss Corn Castle’s corn on the cob, grown locally and sourced from Chilliwack. For fresh vegetarian and vegan fare, check out PNE Market Fresh for healthy and filling salads, sandwiches, fresh fruit and much more.
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