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Fun at the PNE (Pacific National Exhibition)

Main gate to Playland and PNE on Hastings Street

If you live in British Columbia, you have likely heard of the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) held annually in Vancouver, BC. The Fair at the PNE has been around since 1910 and draws over 900,000 visitors during its' 17 day run in August. Also on the PNE grounds is Playland, the 15 acre amusement park which is open from April to October.

Being a frugal mom, I took advantage of the free gate admission that is offered one day every year. This year, it was on Tuesday, August 19th from 11 am to 1 pm. The little man and I headed down to the PNE (after securing free parking in the residential neighbourhood).

Saturday, August 16, 2014 - Monday, September 1, 2014
Hours: 11am to late (usually past 10 pm based on my past visits)
Closed: Mondays, August 18 and August 25, 2014

Here are my favorites at the Fair.


1) Game of Thrones The Exhibition (This year only! Limited tickets available each day. See tip below)

Game of Thrones (GOT) Exhibition: The most popular attraction at the PNE this year.
  • Only location in the Pacific Northwest where you can see the travelling GOT exhibition.
  • Collection of over 100 artifacts (including the iron throne, original costumes, props, armour and weapons) from Seasons 1 to 4. 
  • Fully interactive virtual reality experience that transports you to the world of Westeros.
  • A photo opportunity to sit on the infamous Iron Throne.

  • To get into the exhibit, you need to pick up a free time assignment ticket from the ticket booth (across from the exhibit, near the Renfrew/Hastings entrance) which lists your scheduled time slot. Once you receive this ticket, go back at your scheduled time and line up for the exhibit.
Ticket booth where you get a free time assignment ticket. Sold out when I went at 3 pm.
  • Get there early! Tickets sell out fast and I was told to get my ticket from the ticket booth before noon. They have limited tickets each day so pick up your ticket upon arrival.
  • If you go to the exhibit right when the PNE opens at 11 am, you can walk straight in without needing to get a time assignment ticket or wait in the line outside the exhibition.

2) Presidents Choice Superdogs

The obstacle course for the amazing Superdogs
  • See the Superdogs in action as they jump, run, and weave through the obstacles
  • Great for all ages, especially families with children
  • Meet and greet with the Superdogs and trainers after the show
  • Purchase dog food, frisbees ($5) and more (after the show)
Super Trainer and Fitz (the Superdog). I was sitting in the third row!
  • To secure good seats (on the lower rows), get to the venue at least 45 minutes before the start of the show.
  • There is a VILP (Very Important Little People) stroller check-in where you receive a ticket stub for stroller pickup after the show. 
  • If you are checking in your stroller, ask someone else in your party to save you a seat. The stroller check-in does not open until 30 minutes before the show.
  • Sections V to S are the best sections to sit in as you are directly in front of the obstacle course.
  • After the show, go visit the Superdogs to avoid the huge crowds leaving the Colosseum.
  • Go to the washroom before the show, or use the washrooms elsewhere after the show to avoid the super long lineups.

3) Free Concerts
  • There are two concert stages: WestJet Concert Stage (near Playland) and Chevrolet Performance Stage (near the food concourse) 
  • WestJet Concert Stage (free with admission)
    • Shows start at 8pm nightly
    • Featured musicians such as: LeAnn Rimes, Boyz II Men, Plain White Ts and Glass Tiger
    • Stadium style bleachers
    • Stroller and wheelchair accessible (near the bottom ramp by the main Beer Garden); gates open at 6:30 pm
    • Optional: WestJet Fan Zone (reserved seating starting at $20) 
Concert listing for WestJet Concert Stage
  • Chevrolet Performance Stage
    • Shows at 7:30 pm and 9:00 pm
    • Musicians such as Spirit of the West, Prism and Alex Cuba
    • Stroller and wheelchair friendly
    • Bring a blanket to sit on the lawn as there are only a few benches available

Concert listing for Chevrolet Concert Stage
  • WestJet Concert Stage is open at 6:30 pm. I was told if you want free seats that has a good view of the stage, grab a seat right when it opens.

WestJet Concert Stage - Blue seats (reserved seating); free seating on bleachers behind (not shown)
  • Chevrolet Performance Stage has musical acts all day. Bring a blanket, have a picnic and take a nap while enjoying the music.
Chevrolet Concert Stage - great for a picnic, a nap or a break from the activities

4) Safeway Farm Country

Barn animals, live honeybees, market and much more
  • See farm animals (cows, baby chicks, ducks, lambs and horses) up close
Baby chicks
Baby ducks
  • Live honeybees exhibit
  • Watch pig races
  • Kids play area
  • Pet the dairy cows (not shown)
  • Measure your height against farm animals
Yay, I am taller than a cow! :)

  • Talk with the farmers about animal husbandry
  • Purchase honey directly from the farm

5) Playland

Wave Swinger and the famous Wooden Roller Coaster
  • Amusement rides for kids of all ages
  • Popular attractions and my personal favorites: 1958 wooden roller coaster, Hellevator, Hell's Gate, Corkscrew and Flume (water log ride)

  • Twilight Ride Pass – Save $13 on the price of a Ride Pass when you purchase a Twilight Ride Pass Tuesday through Thursday after 5pm.
  • Guardians (21 years or older) can ride FREE with a paying child under 4 feet (48”) on selected rides.

6) Jigu! Thunder Drums of China (This year only!)

Jigu! Thunder Drums of China is at the Colosseum.
  • High energy show featuring Chinese drummers, percussionists and musicians blending traditional and modern elements.
  • Grab seats at least 45 minutes before the show starts as the seats fill up quickly
  • You can grab a seat as soon as the previous show has finished
  • All members of your party must be there as you cannot save seats for this show

7) PNE Prize Home

Would love to live in this house!
  • Tour the PNE prize home
  • Lottery tickets are 5 tickets for $25 or 15 tickets for $50
  • Tickets can be purchased throughout the park, by phone (604-252-3688 / 1-877-946-4663) or online
  • Fill in your information on purchased tickets and drop off at specified drop off locations throughout the park

8) CTV and Global Booths

CTV Booth. I was hoping to see Lynda Steele but she was not there. :(
  • Meet and greet your favorite local news personalities from CTV and Global (My favorite personality/news anchor is Lynda Steele, "Steele on Your Side" at CTV)
  • Test out your skills as a news anchor
  • Your tape may be featured on CTV!
  • Visit the booths during the news hour to watch your favorite anchors and personalities in action (I am always amazed how professional they are despite the rowdy crowds).
  • Photo opportunities with your favorite personalities (I saw Colleen Christie and Perry Solkowski of CTV who were taking pictures with fans).

Food and Drinks

1) Beer Gardens

The main beer garden. 19 years and older.
  • There are two beer gardens; one is located by the WestJet Concert Stage and the other is located by the Chevrolet Concert Stage.
  • 19 years or older (we did not go in as I was with my little man who is well under 19)
  • Be prepared to show two pieces of ID

2) Free Tap Water (Metro Vancouver)

Free tap water station next to Safeway Farm Country.
  • Fill up your water bottle with fresh tap water, provided by Metro Vancouver
  • Bring your own water bottle

3) Mini Donuts

Homer Simpson says it best "mmm...donuts..."

  • Freshly fried mini donuts served plain or with cinnamon sugar
  • 1 bag for $5 or 3 bags for $10
  • Buy in multiples and share with a friend (or not share at all!)
  • Buy donuts during non-peak times (after lunch, or before dinner) to avoid the super long line ups


London Drugs Parent Room (next to Playland)

Great place to change those diapers!
  • Stroller accessible change rooms

Frugal Tips

Before you go: Tickets

  • Online/Retailer Savings – Save up to $9 when you purchase your Fair Gate or Ride passes online or at the following Lower Mainland retailers: 7-Eleven, Safeway, Save-On Foods, Pricesmart Foods, Coopers Foods, Urban Fare and Overwaitea Foods.
  • Purchase Fair Gate tickets online to save up to $3.
  • Vancity members and their friends receive $5 admission on Wednesday, August 27, 2014.
  • Free admission for Seniors (65+) on Thursday, August 21, 2014 from 11 pm - 1 pm. 

Before you go: What to bring

  • Pack drinks, a light lunch and/or snacks (but definitely buy those mini donuts and other special treats!)
  • Wear comfortable walking shoes/sandals
  • Bring a camera, blanket, sunscreen and a refillable water bottle
  • For those with little ones, bring a small, inexpensive umbrella stroller (Note: not all attractions feature stroller check-ins. Some attractions require you to leave the stroller unattended).

Getting there

  • Park in the residential areas (east of Cassiar Connector to Boundary Road) to score free parking. Make sure to read and obey any posted signs/bylaws to avoid getting towed or ticketed.
  • Consider alternative transportation: public transit (bus), walk or bike.

While you are there

Adults ride free with kids 48" or shorter on selected rides.
  • Purchase a $2 Pinwheel Deals booklet at any Guest Services location which offers over $300 in savings throughout the fair.
  • If you are leaving the park (temporarily), you can get your hand stamped for re-entry for the same day

Overall, I feel the PNE offers great value for the price of admission: GOT exhibition, free concerts, free shows (Superdogs, Jigu!), carnival games, amusement rides, and those mini donuts! There is something for everyone and with so much to do, you may need to go back for another visit!

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