Cheap Things To Do In Vancouver

Federico’s Supper Club


In my 20’s I hated to spend a single night at home.  So I had season’s tickets to all the theatre groups in town, ballet performances, dinner theatre and so on.  Now as a homeowner, my entertainment budget has somehow shrunk and I’m not as likely to go hog wild on the credit card.  So here’s my list of cheap things to do in Vancouver that won’t break the bank.


The Free Stuff

Life is a Beach – Living in the Lower Mainland means that you have quick access to the cheapest entertainment – the beach. Walking, cycling, volleyball, frisbee, picnics or just plain oogling the opposite sex in their sexy scanty bathing suits or birthday suits if you choose to go to Wreck Beach.  Click here to see a list of Vancouver beaches.

It’s Festival Time – From Chinese New Year, Greek Festival, Jazz Festival, Pride Week, Celebration of Light Fireworks, you name it we celebrate it with a festival where you have free access to free music, parades, live music and so on.  But you might find yourself emptying your wallet pretty quickly if you can’t resist vendors offering delicious food or merchandise. Access The Georgia Straight to find out what festivals are happening weekly.

Free Stuff at Robson Square.  In the summer time its Sunday Afternoon Salsa at Robson Square starting at 3 pm where lessons might or might not guarantee that toes will go unharmed.  Then dance to your heart’s content from 3:30 pm to 7 pm and after 7 pm it’s the after party.  In the wintertime starting in January, it’s Free Ice Skating at Robson Square.

Who Wants Free Movies?  By the time you pay for two adult tickets, two buckets of popcorn, two drinks and oodles of candies, it’s not a cheap night out at the movies when you hit $50 (being an Asian girl with plenty of ginormous purses, I sneak in my own treats).  But in the summertime, enjoy outdoor movies from freshaircinema with venues all over the Lower Mainland – click on link for schedule.  Otherwise, get a Netflix subscription for about $10 – $12 a month and snuggle up with all you can eat popcorn for pennies.


Not Quite Free

Almost Free Shows at Kitsilano Beach .Enjoy various performances at Kitsilano Showboat from song dance, puppetry, storytelling and more at Kitsilano Beach at Cornwall. Pay by donation.

Join a Meetup Group.  There’s not only a Meetup Group for free activities such as meditation, hiking, board games, etc. but also for activities that aren’t free such as dining, and wine tasting.  Joining is free, but some organizers of groups charge an small event fee to help offset the cost of maintaining the meetup group website which is about $12 a month. This is a great way to meet people with the same interests or for people new to the city to meet others

Artsy Fartsy Tuesdays.  On Tuesday nights at the Vancouver Art Gallery, admission from 5 pm to 9 pm is by donation. Its a great opportunity to catch some of the great exhibits such as Monet if you can’t make it to the Louvre in Paris.

Pay What You Can Wednesdays.  It’s not hard to get over hump day if you take advantage of Pay What You Can Wednesdays at the following venues:

  • Ensemble Theatre Company’s Pay What You Can Wednesdays performances.  But get there early as tickets are available online and you pay at the door.  Otherwise productions are $30/25 (Previews: $20),
  • Firehall Arts Centre: Some of their Wednesday 1 pm performances are pay what you can with tickets available at the door only one hour before the performance.  Other performances are $33 or previews for $17



VanDusen Botanical Garden


Thirty Dollars or Less

  1. Laugh the Night Away.  Always funny and always so easy on the pocketbook, the hilarious improv show at Vancouver TheatreSports League will never let you down even when you’re down. And tickets are only $15 ($10 if you’re a student) or $21.75 with a drink.  But it gets better as it’s Half Price Hilarity shows at VTSL (Wed/Thur 9:15) for only $7.75 and Rookie League Shows on Sunday 7:30 for only $8.75.

Business Cards Pairing with Appies.  If you want to network and meet new people, then join the Vancouver Minglers as its a group where business professionals get together after work at a lounge/restaurant to socialize and munch on appies.  There is no membership fees and the price of each event is $10 which includes appetizers, drinks are not included.

Dance Dance Dance!.  The Dance Centre Discover Dance! Noon Series is a great way to spend your lunch hour as performances are only $14 (adult) or less if you’re a senior or child or $55 for a bundle of six performances.  There are also night performances for less than $30 and every year there is an open house in April with plenty of free performances.  ..

Serenade the Senses at Opera Mariposa.  If you can’t afford the triple digit tickets to Madame Butterfly, have no fear because Opera Mariposa, won’t fail to impress as you’ll have an opportunity to listen to young talented opera singers on the rise to stardom for less than $30 a ticket.  The venue won’t be fancy, but the angelic voices will make you feel like you’re in heaven.

I Promised You a Rose Garden.  If you love flowers and plants, then head on down to Vancouver’s biggest flower garden at the VanDusen Botanical Garden.  Admission is just $11 from April 1 to September 30.  And in the month of December, you can dazzle your date with the VanDusen Festival of Lights. 

It’s Drama Time at Metro Theatre.  If you want to go to big productions such as Les Miserables or Phantom of the Opera, then you better have some deep pockets.  But at the Metro Theatre, tickets for live theatre are a mere $24 for adults or $21 for seniors & students, with a special 2 for $35 deal every Thursday plus tickets to the preview performance are just $13.



For a Few Dollars More (Under $100) 

Last Minute Half Price Tickets.  If you like to be spontaneous, go online to Tickets Tonight to find half price tickets to theatre, food tours, dance events and more.  These half price tickets are sold the day of the event and must be bought in person at the Tickets Tonight office from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.

Shakespeare in the Park.  It feels like an enchanted evening under the stars when you’re sitting in a tent at Vanier Park watching one of Bard On the Beach Shakespearean performances from June 1 to mid September every year.  Tickets range from $21 to $59 (seniors and children prices are lower) but you save money if you buy a season’s pass for $199 which gets you 4 plays.

Dinner and Dancing Old Skool.  Tired of hanging out with the kids at downtown clubs, well. Federico’s Supper Club may be the only place in town for the over 40 crowd looking for world class entertainment  in an old world venue with great Italian food. The owner, Federico Fuoco sings here some nights while on other nights, there’s jazz and tribute bands such as Nearly Neil and Abbacadabra..  Prices start at $45 per person for 3 courses and varies for performances, drinks are extra.    .

Coupons for Activities.  Bike rentals, museums, concerts, trade shows, you can find coupons for just about any activity from Groupon Vancouver, Social Shopper Vancouver, Travel Zoo Vancouver, Living Social and Entertainment Book.  Social Shopper tends to have the trade shows while Groupon has the usual tourist attractions..

Jazz up Your Evening.  Love jazz, then head over to the following places – the expectation is that you will order food or drink:

Shimmy and Shake Shake Shake.  Dinner and a belly dance is every man’s wet dream come true at the following restaurants:

  • Afghan Horsemen:  Great food and atmosphere, you should stop here before or after your trip to Granville Island,
  • Nuba (Kitsilano): Great Lebanese food in a casual atmosphere
  •  East is East: the Main Street location with a cover charge of $3 and offers Middle Eastern food,

Flamenco Music and Dance.  The last time I was in Barcelona I managed to catch a flamenco show for $12 which included one drink.  Well, you won’t find such a great deal in Vancouver because even if the flamenco show is free, you’re required to order drinks or food at the restaurant.  So, here’s a list of places with “free” flamenco shows:

  • East is East: the Main Street location has a cover charge of $3 and offers Middle Eastern food.  Check their schedule to see when flamenco is offered,
  • Cabrito- Tapas: Check their calendar for entertainment and then plan on getting there early because this is a small restaurant
  • Ten Ten Tapas: With a view to kill and great food, best to reserve. They offer live entertainment ranging from jazz, flamenco guitar and more. Check their schedule,






Editor in Chief of Fabulously Frugal in Vancouver.

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