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Fresh Summer Events Add to the Fun in Vancouver

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UBC student Helen Di Zhao and her mare, Margarita, were among the competitors at the 2022 Vancouver International Polo Festival in the Southlands neighbourhood of Vancouver. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

After a chilly start to summer, Vancouver has come alive with activities suited for a welcome stretch of sunny days. A couple of under-the-radar events have added new flair to August while long-time favourites continue to draw people eager to get out and enjoy the heat.

The inaugural Vancouver International Polo Festival glitzed up with VIP cabanas, tango dancers, wine tastings, DJs and a dance floor, an art walk, and a crowd looking to enjoy something sophisticated and unique. While beautiful horses galloped beneath brilliant blue skies and sunshine — the kind of setting that makes the city feel world-beating, not just world class — attendees mingled with cocktails and Champagne and savoured Argentinian-style asado cuisine. Between the polo matches, they even had the chance to get up close to the horses as riders encouraged onlookers to pet and snap selfies with the equines.

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Fans gather around Iceman, one of the horses that competed in the 2022 Vancouver International Polo Festival in the Southlands neighbourhood. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

While most guests appeared to have come for the vibe and not the spectator sport, there was a chance to be introduced to an activity few in Canada know about. According to Polo Canada, there are 13 clubs in five provinces that promote the game. Helen Di Zhao, one of the competitors and a member of the Vancouver Polo Club, believed the festival held on August 13 was a success because it gave Vancouverites the opportunity to understand more about the sport and the animals.

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Diners line up for grilled, Argentinian-inspired cuisine at the Vancouver International Polo Festival. (Jonathan Evans photo)

“It’s always nice to see people learn more about polo and horses. Polo has a long history and it comes with traditions like what we saw with the festival. As long as people are having fun, then the event is a success,” said Zhao, a University of British Columbia student who has played polo in China, California and Argentina, where it enjoys the most popularity. “The festival was a gathering place of people interested in the sport of polo and the party environment that follows it. The festival was uniquely Vancouver and uniquely Canadian due to its scale and friendly nature.”

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A rider chases the ball during a match at the 2022 Vancouver International Polo Festival. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

Co-presented by the Vancouver Polo Club and Southlands Riding Club, the festival raised money for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and the Southland’s Horse Rescue Program.

Vancouver Mural Fest

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The City Centre Motel on Main Street has been transformed into a dazzling location for Vancouver artists. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

While the polo festival was a one-day event, the Vancouver Mural Fest lasted 11 days and covered eight neighbourhoods, culminating on August 14, and showcased stunning street art. Among the highlights was a full-day concert on August 11 at the City Centre Hub, a creative project that has turned a former motel into a reimagined space for the arts. The property now features the city’s largest mural as well as 75 artists’ studios.

Developers purchased the motel and are awaiting the finalization of project plans to gentrify it as part of Vancouver’s in-progress Broadway Corridor. While they wait, they’ve teamed with the 100 Collective artists group to give creative minds a fresh location to showcase their work. During VMF, visitors could see the series of outstanding murals that artists have created, turning doors and decades-old walls into canvasses full of colours and provocative cultural and political themes.

PNE FAIR

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Jim Cuddy and Blue Rodeo will appear at the Pacific Coliseum on August 21 as part of the PNE Fair’s Summer Concert Series. (Vacay.ca file photo)

The city’s annual summer midway fair runs from August 20 to September 5 and will have a full slate of programming for 2022 (including acrobats, Super Dogs, cooking demonstrations, and more), diet-breaking foods, and classic rides. The PNE also features a slate of concerts headlined by Blue Rodeo (August 21) and the Barenaked Ladies (August 23). (Concerts require both a separate ticket to enter the Pacific Coliseum and an entry ticket to the PNE Fair.)

Brahm’s Tams Drum Circle

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The Tuesday evening drum circle get-togethers on Third Beach are one of Vancouver’s enduring summer events. (Adrian Brijbassi photo for Vacay.ca)

Taking place every warm and sunny Tuesday on Third Beach at Stanley Park, Brahm’s Tams Drum Circle is a ritual that has been ongoing for 17 years. Show up with a drum — or clapping hands and toe-tapping feet — and join in a celebration of sunshine and summer sounds. Though the drum circle was inspired by a similar Montreal tradition, the gathering on the beach and beneath the long, gentle sunsets feels distinctly Vancouver. It’s festive, zen, and utterly laid back, even amid all the percussive energy and dancing in the sand.

Adrian is the editor of Vacay.ca and VacayNetwork.com. He also edited "Inspired Cooking", a nutrition-focused cookbook featuring 20 of Canada's leading chefs and in support of the cancer-fighting charity, InspireHealth. "Inspired Cooking" was created in honour of Adrian's late wife and Vacay.ca co-founder, Julia Pelish, who passed away of brain cancer in 2016. Adrian has won numerous awards for his travel writing, travel photography, and fiction, and has visited more than 55 countries. He is a former editor at the Toronto Star and New York Newsday, and was the social media and advocacy manager for Destination Canada. His articles have frequently appeared in the Huffington Post, Globe & Mail, and other major publications. He has appeared on national and local broadcasts, talking about travel, sports, creative writing and journalism. In 2019, he launched Trippzy, a travel-trivia app developed to educate consumers about destinations around the world.