10 fun, creative FREE things to do in Vancouver over B.C. Culture Days weekend

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To help you celebrate the 10th anniversary of Culture Days in B.C. we’ve picked out 10 of our favourite FREE events taking place in Vancouver.

Brace yourself for a weekend jam packed with hands on and interactive events and activities. There will be music, visual arts, dance, film and much more across the province for three days from September 27 to 29.

Public Disco. Photo: BC Culture Days

The annual collaborative pan-Canadian volunteer movement aims to raise awareness of community arts and culture. This year there are more than 80 activities registered in Vancouver and over 500 across the province.

You’ll find creative things to do at Jack Poole Plaza, Skwachàys Lodge, UBC Arts and Culture District, Granville Island and the Roundhouse Community Arts and Recreation Centre.

Event manager and organizer Nazanin Shoja said there is definitely something for everyone to enjoy.

“Culture Days is different from other celebrations in that it celebrates the creative process, encouraging people to try out new art forms and have a behind-the-scenes look into the lives of creative people in our community,” she explained.

“Activities range from workshops and collaborative art projects to tours, discussions, and open rehearsals. It’s also a great opportunity to meet new people, tap into the arts community and learn about all the great artists and organizations offering activities year-round.”

Artists and printmakers will team up to celebrate large‐scale woodcut printing using a steamroller as a press on Granville Island. Photo: BC Culture Days

She said the activities promoted public participation and increased accessibility to the arts.

“This not only benefits our economy, but also our mental and physical health,” Shoja said.

“Our arts and cultural communities have a great impact on our quality of life and they are often taken for granted

“Arts and culture is everywhere and the Culture Days weekend is the one time during the year when the whole country is united in celebration of that.”

So, without further ado, here are our favourite FREE events taking place for you to check out.

Here are our picks, but if none of these take your fancy you can find heaps more on the B.C. Culture Days events map:

1. Sister Says Live at Jack Poole Plaza

Kick things off on Friday at Jack Poole Plaza with a free dreamy, eclectic, and lyrically rich performance by Sister Says. The Vancouver based soulful indie pop group is fronted by mixed Haida-Tsimshian siblings Gillian and Robert Thomson. Sister Says’s roots stem from the soul, blues, and pop music the two grew up around as children. Learn more.

Date: Friday, Sep. 27
Time: 11.30 a.m to 12. 30 p.m.
Location: Jack Poole Plaza, 1055 Canada Place

Sister Says. Photo: BC Culture Days

2. Go on a Date with Culture

An array of local artists will be sharing demonstrations of their craft with visitors, surrounded by music, food, and a great cultural atmosphere on the iconic Granville Island. Artists and printmakers will team up to celebrate large‐scale woodcut printing using a steamroller as a press. Community members and visitors will have the opportunity to contribute to the carving. Learn more. 

Date/Time: Sep. 27, 12p.m. to 7 p.m. and Sep 28, 29, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Granville Island, 1404 Anderson St.

3. Learn Coast Salish Art with Artist: Maynard Johnny Jr.

Learn and paint with celebrated Coast Salish artist, Maynard Johnny Jr. During the workshop you’ll paint a mini-canvas. Johnny Jr began drawing at the early age of six and began to work in the Northwest Coast style at the age of 17.
“My passion is to share Coast Salish art with my family, community and beyond. I am very touched when passing down this cultural legacy to my grandchildren,” says Johnny Jr. Learn more.

Date: Sep. 28
Time: 10 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Location: Skwachàys Lodge, 31 West Pender Street, Vancouver, BC V6B 1R3

Learn Coast Salish Art with Artist: Maynard Johnny Jr. Photo: Maynard Johnny Jr.

4. V6A Documentary Screening

Watch Italian filmmaker Ruggero Romano’s new documentary V6A. Witnessing the struggle of homelessness, poverty and addiction in his adopted city, Romano was moved to make a film about the inhabitants of postal code V6A: the area commonly known as the Downtown Eastside. The film is designed to challenge expectations and inspire locals to think about their fellow citizens in a new light. V6A is also an unexpected celebration of the resilience and beauty of the human spirit. Learn more.

Date: Sep. 28
Time: 6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: Vancouver Co-op Radio, 370 Columbia Street
Register Here

5. Dream Catcher Workshop

Learn a brief overview on dream catcher history and then learn how to create your very own at EWMA Studio. This workshop will be facilitated by traditional artist Patricia. Learn more.

Date: Sep. 28
Time: 1 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: EWMA Studio, 800 E Hastings Street

Dream catcher. Photo: BC Culture Days

6. Self-Guided Public Art Tours

What better way to spend Culture Days than discovering more public art and the stories behind them? The Vancouver Biennale offers three self-guided public art tours. Click here to view the available tours.

1. Take your cell phone.
2. Our custom Google maps will guide your way throughout the tour.
3. Read about the artwork and artists as you go.

7. Beyond Movement dance workshop

Get ready to discover your body and the endless potential of movement and imagination through grounded and groovy beats. This workshop is not about how well you can move or how good you look when you move; rather it’s about how you feel when you move and how to navigate those feelings by expressing them through your individualized body language. Don’t worry, there’s no formal training necessary. Make sure you wear clothing that is comfortable to move in and bring a pair of socks and a blanket or scarf if this is available to you. Learn more.

Date: Sep. 29
Time: 1 p.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: CBC Vancouver Plaza, 700 Hamilton Street

8. Canvases and Coffee! Painting the local landscape

This activity is a social “Paint and Sip” style workshop where participants will be guided step by step through creating their very own painting of a West Coast landscape over a two-hour session. All supplies and coffee and tea will be provided. Learn more.

Date: Sep. 28
Time: 2 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Roundhouse Community Centre, 181 Roundhouse Mews

9. Zigong Lantern Exhibition

The six-day Zigong Lantern Exhibition is part of the Chinese Culture and Arts Festival and will feature seven large Zigong Lanterns at the Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza. Each piece is hand made from a variety of materials including satin and recycled CD discs and then illuminated by environmentally-friendly LED lights. The Lanterns will measure up to 18 meters long and light up in the evenings from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Learn more.

Date: Sep. 27, 28, 29
Time: 12 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza, 750 Hornby St

Zigong Lantern Exhibition. Photo: BC Culture Days

10. Public Disco party in a Laneway

Finish off your celebrations with a boogie at a Public Disco at Main and 1st. There will be games areas, a hoop zone, and a sparkle station in addition to live music all day long! Learn more.

Date: Sep. 29
Time: 2 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: Main and 1st