Vancouver's Stanley Park Turns 125 Years Old: Free Party in the Park

Inukshuk in Stanley Park. Photo by Sue Frause.
Stanley Park officially opened on September 27, 1888. Originally it was the Coast Salish territories of the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Waututh First Nations. Designated in 1988 as a National Historic Site of Canada, 2013 marks Stanley Park's 125th anniversary. And this weekend, August 24-25, the City of Vancouver and the Park Board is throwing a free party in the park. 

Cyclers and walkers on Seawall Park overlooking the Burrard Inlet. Photo by Sue Frause.
Stanley Park attracts more than eight million visitors a year. Its 400 hectares (1,001 acres) include 27 km of forest trails and a popular 8.8 km (5.5 miles) seawall (pictured above) used by inline skaters, cyclists and walkers. Named after Lord Stanley, who was Governor General of Canada (and who the Stanley Cup is named after), it served as a military reserve in the mid-1800s. The Nine O'Clock Gun near Brockton Point is still fired off each evening at 9 PM. In 1939, an aquarium opened next to the park on English Bay, which was managed by Ivar Haglund, who went on to start Ivar's Acres of Clams -- a successful seafood chain in Seattle. The Vancouver Aquarium opened at its present location in 1956.

A view of Stanley Park and Vancouver aboard Helijet to Victoria. Photo by Sue Frause.
A Coast Salish traditional welcome with representatives from the Musqueam, Squamish and Tsleil-Wautuh Nation will officially welcome visitors to the Celebrate Stanley Park on Saturday and Sunday at noon at Lumbermen's Arch. More than 200 activities will take place during the two-day family event from noon to 10 PM at five outdoor venues. The free events include children's entertainers; Canadian bands (Arkells, Born Ruffians, Washboard Union, The Matinee, We Are The City, Alexandria Maillot); walking tours; dance performances; face painters; sports demos and games; vintage car display; food and premium licensed areas. 

Bicyclists on Seawall Park looking back at Coal Harbour. Photo by Sue Frause.
Ticketed evening performances include Boca del Lupo's Fall Away Home (a free outdoor modern fairytale) and a Theatre Under the Stars singalong with the hit movie musical Grease. On Friday, the day before the weekend celebration, a free Sunrise Swim at Second Beach Pool will be held from 6:30-10:00 AM. It's hosted by CBC Radio and will be broadcast live. Canoe races by the Coast Salish will be held on Sunday from 9:00 AM to noon, launching off Deadman's Island. 

Stanley Park's restaurants, concessions and attractions will be operating all weekend long. A fleet of food trucks will feature pizza, pulled pork sandwiches, dim sum, fish 'n chips, grilled cheese and more. There will be a salmon barbecue from Salmon n' Bannock and a chicken barbecue from Railtown Cafe at the Live at Second Beach festival zone.
Summer sunset in Stanley Park overlooking English Bay. Photo by Sue Frause.

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