Vancouver Mural Festival

Botanical theme mural in Vancouver

If you live in Vancouver, you’ve probably heard of the Vancouver Mural Festival. If you haven’t – it’s the city’s largest annual free public art celebration. Thousands of people from across the city head to the Mount Pleasant neighbourhood to see some of the city’s coolest and most colourful murals and street art. It takes place just off hipster Main Street. In case you can’t come, I’ll guide you through the some of the most impressive street art of Vancouver. Check out the Vancouver Mural Festival’s Twitter to make sure you don’t miss a mural at the festival.

The Vancouver Mural Festival: Beginning on East 3rd Avenue

The Vancouver Mural Festival is the creation of the Create Vancouver Society, a non-profit organization for artistic and cultural development. By producing these colourful murals, the aim is to provide a platform for creativity in BC’s Lower Mainland. Each August, the Mural Festival takes place for a week and attracts people from all across the city.

Vancouver street art in Mount Pleasant

While some of the murals remained from previous Vancouver Mural Festivals, it’s still a great excuse to get out and see some of the awesome street art tucked away in alleyways and lanes. We began along Vancouver’s East 3rd Avenue near my apartment before walking up to Mount Pleasant.

Vancouver murals

We followed the crowds, soaking up the designs, pensive messages, and mantras of each individual mural.

Black and white mural in Vancouver
Girls at Vancouver Mural Festival
A colourful mural near Main Street, Vancouver

Virtually every corner you turn in the area, you’re faced with a new colourful mural.

Colourful mural through a fence at the Vancouver Mural Festival
Rainbow pattern mural at the Vancouver Mural Festival
Ocean themed mural in Vancouver

Every year, a growing number of murals can be found spreading across Mount Pleasant. They’re such a cool addition to a once industrial suburb.

Giant mural at Vancouver Mural Festival

The Vancouver Mural Festival: Up to East 5th Avenue

Walking along the streets, we neared East 5th Avenue. We really liked this mural which is a nod to Canada’s First Nations population and their indigenous art.

First Nations art at the Vancouver Mural Festival
Botanical theme mural in Vancouver

As well as plenty of murals, there are a few pop ups around the area and a bunch of food trucks. Each pop up offered chill out areas and photo booths.

Aurora pop up at Vancouver Mural Festival

Inside The James Black Gallery

The Vancouver Mural Festival is also a great chance to be nosy. We came across this adorable heritage house which has been converted into a gallery across three floors.

Contemporary art at the James Black Gallery, Vancouver

There were some really interesting contemporary pieces inside. Some of them could certainly resonate with today’s obsession with social media.

A contemporary piece in the James Black Gallery, Vancouver
Exhibition at the James Black Gallery, Vancouver
Contemporary art in Vancouver
Girls at the contemporary exhibition at the James Black Gallery in Vancouver

We continued into the Mural Festival outside to some of my favourite murals in Vancouver. I love the huge scale colourful murals that take up the entire walls on which they’re painted.

Giant mural at Vancouver Mural Festival
Colourful mural at Vancouver Mural Festival
A pensive mural at Vancouver Mural Festival

The Vancouver Mural Festival

For those who like watching skateboarders do tricks, there was also some of that set to music as entertainment.

Skateboarders at Vancouver Mural Festival
Colourful cartoon mural at Vancouver Mural Festival

The Mural Festival also has areas where you can relax with a cold drink.

Grabbing a drink at the Vancouver Mural Festival

Next, we headed along 7.5th Street to see some of the new mural creations for this year.

Banksy style mural at Vancouver Mural Festival

This reminded me a lot of Banksy’s street art. What do you think?

Dinosaur mural at Vancouver Mural Festival
A colourful unicorn mural at Vancouver Mural Festival
Mysterious street art at Vancouver Mural Festival

I found this mural quite mysterious and it reminded me a little of something spooky from Harry Potter. The murals vary so much. Some have more of a cartoon style, and this in particular made me think of Orla Kiely.

Orla Kiely mural in Mount Pleasant

This was one of my favourites! There’s so much to see in one mural, it was rather like a Where’s Waldo. We even got to see it being finished off.

A character mural in Vancouver
A Where's Waldo style mural in Vancouver
Character mural in Vancouver
Orca mural as part of the Vancouver Mural Festival

Main Street, Vancouver

Once we’d explored almost all of the murals, we headed to Main Street where the festival continued with food trucks and stalls. It’s a really cool quirky street, and even better right in my new neighbourhood. The mural theme continued, with plenty of opportunities for everyone to paint and express their own creativity.

Mural art on Main Street, Vancouver
Rollerbladers on Main Street, Vancouver
Girls with cotton candy on Main Street, Vancouver
T shirts for sale on Main Street, Vancouver
Walking along Main Street for Vancouver Mural Festival

We browsed some shops, watched rollerbladers, and stopped for ice cream at my favourite ice cream shop in the city, Rain or Shine. There was even a little piece of home for us along the way home!

British flags on Main Street, Vancouver
Sushi after Vancouver Mural Festival

We finished off a wonderful day with a few sushi rolls. Ultimately, it’s a really awesome festival that celebrates the best of Vancouver’s creativity.


Did you go to the Vancouver Mural Festival this year? Which mural is your favourite?

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Laura
Laura

I’m Laura, a roaming blonde who recently made the leap from my home in the Cotswolds, UK to be based across the pond in Vancouver, BC for a brand new job and plenty of adventures.

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Leave a comment

  1. September 15, 2018 / 11:57 am

    This is so cool!! What’s weird is I walked around taking photos of tons of murals a couple of months ago (I passed through the mural festival too) and I hardly saw any of these! But I’ve got a ton of different photos haha. Gonna have to have another explore!

    • Laura
      Author
      September 15, 2018 / 2:01 pm

      Haha yes I see what you mean! I’ve since seen a ton I didn’t even spot at the Festival. Gotta love Vancouver and its hidden gems!

  2. September 15, 2018 / 3:38 pm

    Thanks for finding me, Laura — soon as I finish this, I’ll click to follow you. Welcome to Vancouver, from someone here not all that long herself (moved from Toronto just over a year ago). Like you, love to travel, love to share what I see. Lots of familiar images here, but also reasons for me to go spend more time on 7th — I obviously missed a lot there. Hello also to Orcadian Abroad, who I must explore next — had a great time in Orkney some years back when it was a big Canadian-Orkney homecoming (the years of the Bay Boys, and all), but before I was blogging so no record on line. Fond memories, though. Enjoy Canada, Laura, and happy adventures for us all

    • Laura
      Author
      September 15, 2018 / 6:00 pm

      Hi Penny, thanks so much for your lovely comment! Looking forward to seeing your upcoming adventures, and hope you enjoy Canada too!

      • September 21, 2018 / 6:11 pm

        Here’s to all our adventures! (I possibly managed to mislead you: I am Canadian, though I’ve lived assorted places overseas, so while I am relatively new to Vancouver, I am not new to Canada.)

  3. November 5, 2018 / 7:40 pm

    Wow, these murals are beautiful! Made me realize there’s still a lot I haven’t explored yet!

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