What Are The Holidays In British Columbia

by CiCi
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British Columbia (BC), one of Canada’s most picturesque provinces, is known for its vibrant cultural tapestry, breathtaking landscapes, and diverse population. This diversity is reflected in its array of holidays and observances, which include statutory holidays, cultural celebrations, and community events. Understanding these holidays not only provides insight into the local culture but also highlights the province’s rich heritage and communal spirit. This article delves into the various holidays celebrated in British Columbia, exploring their origins, traditions, and the unique ways in which they are observed across the province.

Statutory Holidays in British Columbia

Statutory holidays, also known as public holidays, are mandated by the government and provide workers with a day off, with some exceptions for essential services. In British Columbia, there are ten statutory holidays, each with its own historical and cultural significance.


New Year’s Day (January 1)

New Year’s Day marks the beginning of the calendar year and is celebrated on January 1st. This holiday is a time for reflection on the past year and making resolutions for the year ahead. In BC, many people celebrate with parties, fireworks, and gatherings. Public events often include outdoor celebrations, despite the winter weather, with Vancouver’s waterfront being a popular spot for festivities.


Family Day (Third Monday in February)

Family Day is a relatively new holiday in British Columbia, introduced in 2013 to provide families with a mid-winter break. Falling on the third Monday of February, it encourages families to spend quality time together. Many communities host special events such as ice skating, festivals, and free access to museums and parks. This holiday highlights the importance of family bonds and community engagement.

Good Friday and Easter Monday (Varies – March/April)

Good Friday and Easter Monday are part of the Christian Easter celebrations, commemorating the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Good Friday, observed on the Friday before Easter Sunday, is a statutory holiday, while Easter Monday is a school holiday but not a statutory holiday for most workers. These days are marked by religious services, family gatherings, and traditional meals. Easter egg hunts and parades are also common, especially in larger cities like Vancouver and Victoria.

Victoria Day (Last Monday on or before May 24)

Victoria Day celebrates Queen Victoria’s birthday and is observed on the last Monday before May 25th. This holiday marks the unofficial start of summer in Canada, including BC. Communities across the province celebrate with parades, fireworks, and outdoor activities. The holiday also honors the long-standing relationship between Canada and the British monarchy.

Canada Day (July 1)

Canada Day, celebrated on July 1st, marks the anniversary of the confederation of Canada in 1867. In British Columbia, this day is filled with patriotic events such as flag-raising ceremonies, parades, concerts, and fireworks. Major cities like Vancouver host large celebrations, including live music and cultural performances, while smaller towns often have community picnics and family-friendly activities.

British Columbia Day (First Monday in August)

British Columbia Day, observed on the first Monday in August, celebrates the history, culture, and achievements of the province. This holiday, part of the larger Civic Holiday observed in various forms across Canada, includes community festivals, cultural events, and historical reenactments. It’s a time for residents to explore the province’s natural beauty and participate in local traditions.

Labour Day (First Monday in September)

Labour Day, celebrated on the first Monday in September, honors the contributions of workers and the labor movement. In BC, it signifies the end of summer and the start of the school year. The day is often marked by parades, picnics, and public gatherings advocating for workers’ rights and social justice. Many families take advantage of the long weekend for one last summer getaway.

Thanksgiving Day (Second Monday in October)

Thanksgiving Day in British Columbia, like in the rest of Canada, is observed on the second Monday in October. This holiday is a time to give thanks for the harvest and blessings of the past year. Families and friends gather for festive meals, typically featuring turkey, stuffing, and pumpkin pie. It’s also a time for charitable activities, with many people volunteering at food banks and community kitchens.

Remembrance Day (November 11)

Remembrance Day, observed on November 11th, honors the sacrifices of military personnel in World War I, World War II, and other conflicts. The holiday features solemn ceremonies, parades, and the laying of wreaths at war memorials. At 11:00 AM, a moment of silence is observed across the province. Poppies are worn as a symbol of remembrance and respect.

Christmas Day (December 25) and Boxing Day (December 26)

Christmas Day, celebrated on December 25th, is a major holiday in British Columbia, marked by religious services, family gatherings, and festive decorations. Traditions include exchanging gifts, decorating Christmas trees, and enjoying holiday feasts. Boxing Day, observed on December 26th, is a public holiday known for post-Christmas sales and shopping events. It’s also a day for sporting events and visiting friends and family.

Cultural and Community Celebrations

Beyond statutory holidays, British Columbia is home to a multitude of cultural and community celebrations that reflect its diverse population and rich heritage. These events highlight the province’s multiculturalism and foster a sense of community and belonging.

Lunar New Year

Lunar New Year, also known as Chinese New Year, is celebrated by the Chinese community and other Asian cultures in British Columbia. The date varies each year based on the lunar calendar, typically falling between late January and mid-February. Celebrations include parades, dragon and lion dances, fireworks, and family gatherings. Vancouver’s Chinatown hosts one of the largest Lunar New Year parades in North America, attracting thousands of participants and spectators.


Diwali, the Hindu festival of lights, is celebrated by the South Asian community in BC. The festival, which usually occurs in October or November, symbolizes the victory of light over darkness and good over evil. Celebrations include lighting oil lamps, decorating homes with rangoli (colorful patterns), and enjoying festive meals. Public events in cities like Surrey and Vancouver feature cultural performances, fireworks, and community gatherings.


Vaisakhi, a significant Sikh festival, marks the Punjabi New Year and the founding of the Khalsa (the Sikh community). Celebrated on April 13 or 14, it includes parades, religious ceremonies, and community meals known as langar. The Vancouver Vaisakhi Parade is one of the largest outside of India, drawing over 100,000 participants annually. The event showcases Punjabi culture through music, dance, and traditional foods.

National Indigenous Peoples Day (June 21)

National Indigenous Peoples Day, observed on June 21st, celebrates the cultures and contributions of Indigenous peoples in Canada. In British Columbia, the day is marked by cultural events, educational activities, and ceremonies that honor the province’s Indigenous heritage. Many communities host traditional dance performances, storytelling sessions, and art exhibitions, highlighting the rich traditions and histories of First Nations, Métis, and Inuit peoples.

Pride Celebrations

Pride celebrations in British Columbia honor the LGBTQ+ community and promote inclusivity and equality. Vancouver Pride, held in late July and early August, features a vibrant parade, festivals, and various events promoting LGBTQ+ rights and culture. Other cities, including Victoria and Kelowna, also host Pride events, fostering a sense of community and support for LGBTQ+ individuals and their allies.

Unique Local Festivals

In addition to statutory holidays and cultural celebrations, British Columbia boasts a plethora of local festivals that reflect the province’s unique character and communal spirit. These festivals often celebrate local traditions, arts, and the natural environment.

Vancouver International Film Festival (VIFF)

The Vancouver International Film Festival, held annually in late September and early October, is one of the largest film festivals in North America. It showcases a diverse range of films from around the world, including Canadian and Indigenous cinema. The festival attracts filmmakers, actors, and film enthusiasts, offering screenings, panels, and networking opportunities.

Pacific National Exhibition (PNE)

The Pacific National Exhibition, held in Vancouver every summer, is a beloved tradition that dates back to 1910. The PNE features amusement rides, games, concerts, agricultural exhibits, and a variety of food vendors. The fair attracts families and visitors of all ages, offering a blend of entertainment and education.

Celebration of Light

The Celebration of Light is an annual fireworks competition held in Vancouver, typically in late July and early August. Teams from different countries compete in choreographed fireworks displays over English Bay. The event includes live music, food stalls, and family-friendly activities, drawing large crowds to the city’s waterfront.

Whistler Ski and Snowboard Festival

The Whistler Ski and Snowboard Festival, held in April, is a major event for winter sports enthusiasts. The festival features competitions, concerts, film screenings, and art exhibits. It celebrates the end of the ski season and the vibrant culture of one of North America’s premier ski resorts.

See also:Where Is Cheap To Go On Holiday In December


British Columbia’s holidays and festivals reflect the province’s rich cultural diversity, historical heritage, and vibrant community spirit. From statutory holidays that provide time for rest and reflection to cultural celebrations that honor the province’s diverse population, these observances play a crucial role in fostering a sense of identity and belonging. Local festivals and community events further enrich the cultural landscape, offering opportunities for residents and visitors to engage with the unique traditions and natural beauty of British Columbia. As one of Canada’s most dynamic provinces, BC’s holidays are a testament to its inclusive and celebratory nature.


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