April is spring in British Columbia. There's a lot of variation in climate from north to south, coast to mountains: northern, inland, and mountainous areas are typically colder than coastal areas, and the coastal regions are wetter. The weather in April is wildly variable, with a mixture of sun, rain, and even snow. Whatever the temperature, the days get longer as April progresses, adding light and warmth to spring.
Vancouver, on the southwestern coast, is mild year-round, including in spring, with a minimum April temperature of 43°F (6°C) and a maximum of 55°F (13°C). While inland areas are colder in winter, they tend to be warmer than the coast come spring and summer. For example, Kelowna, in inland southern British Columbia, has a minimum of 37°F (3°C) and a maximum of 61°F (16°C). Meanwhile, northern areas are warming up in April. However, they are still pretty chilly: Fort Nelson, for example, in northeastern British Columbia and at roughly the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska, has a minimum April temperature of 26°F (-3°C) and a maximum of 50°F (10°C).
Crowds & Costs
April is the shoulder season for travel to British Columbia. Ski season is ongoing in some mountainous areas, although it's important to check local conditions in your preferred destination because April is toward the end of the season. Book accommodation and transport to popular resort towns such as Whistler, Revelstoke, and Kicking Horse in advance, especially if you're traveling at a weekend or around Easter (if Easter falls in April).
With other outdoor activities back on the agenda this month, many non-ski towns around British Columbia will start opening again after the winter. While some tourism facilities may still be closed, in other places, you might be able to find shoulder season discounts.
Where to Go
Coastal British Columbia is a great place to visit in April as the climate is mild, if wet, and the hiking and kayaking opportunities open up again. Head to Vancouver Island to enjoy the thriving arts scene, go whale watching, hike in the forested national and provincial parks, soak in natural hot springs, and more. The town of Nanaimo is popular for its arts scene, while Tofino and Ucluelet are whale watching hot spots in April.
The Pacific Rim Whale Festival in Tofino from mid-March to early April coincides with the northward migration of more than 20,000 gray whales along the western coast of Vancouver Island. The whales feed in the shallow waters, making them relatively easy to see from shore or open ocean boat tours from Tofino or Ucluelet. As well as whale watching, festival attendees can watch programs and talks by ocean scientists, researchers, and conservationists.
Vancouver Island is always a popular destination, but if you'd like to visit a more offbeat place that's a hub for outdoor adventure activities, check out Quadra Island. It sits between the city of Campbell River on Vancouver Island and the mainland. You can spot orcas, and bears, and kayak through Johnstone Strait, Desolation Sound, and the Discovery Islands.
What to Do
If you'd rather experience British Columbia from the comfort of a padded chair than a kayak or on foot, then April's a good time to ride the Rocky Mountaineer train. This service starts operating for the summer season in April (and will run until October). Various routes and packages are offered, including 2-4 day train journeys and bus tours. All offer fantastic views of a variety of landscapes, including the Rocky Mountains (as well as parts of western Alberta province), Kamloops, Kelowna, Whistler, and Vancouver.
Beer lovers should consider heading to British Columbia's famous wine-producing region in April for the Okanagan Fest-of-Ale beer festival. Dozens of craft beers, ciders, and maybe even a bit of wine, are served at this long-running festival in Penticton, a town between two lakes, over one or two days. There are concerts and plenty of local food specialties to try, too. Note that this festival is sometimes held in May.
Events in April
Easter, nationwide. Good Friday and Easter Sunday are public holidays throughout Canada, so expect business closures. While Easter Monday isn't an official holiday, many people take this day off, and businesses remain closed. Easter can fall in March or April.
World Ski & Snowboard Festival, Whistler. An annual celebration of skiing, music, and ski/snowboard culture with competitions, performances, and big-time parties at and around Whistler ski resort and a chance to enjoy some sunny spring skiing.
Cherry Blossom Festival, Vancouver. Vancouver is awash with the pink blossoms of cherry trees in parks across the city, with concerts, picnics, bike tours, and Japanese cultural performances to celebrate the scene.
Okanagan Fest-of-Ale, Penticton. Over 70 craft beer producers gather in the Okanagan Valley for this food and drink festival that ushers in the spring and summer seasons.
Traveling to British Columbia in April? Check out this great itinerary
Vancouver to Calgary: Whistler, Wells Gray & the Canadian Rockies - 14 Days. Two weeks is the perfect time to drive across British Columbia without feeling too rushed. This itinerary is designed for those seeking to spend most of their days outdoors and covers the province's best mountain parks and trails.