Adults to roam free with booze at the PNE's new 19+ nights

The fair is hosting the event on Friday nights in July.

Visitors can drink anywhere in park for extended Friday night hours in July

Beer-drinkers can go anywhere within the PNE during its adult-only events this summer.

For a handful of nights this summer, visitors drinking at the Pacific National Exhibition's Playland amusement park won't have to stay cooped in beer gardens anymore.

On Monday, officials announced the fair would host adults-only nights on Fridays in July. Those of legal drinking age can visit between 7 p.m. and midnight.

A statement by the PNE said they'll be free to stroll anywhere in Playland with craft beer, wine and "Playland-themed cocktails like a candy floss martini."

The roller coasters, midway games and other rides will also be open.

PNE staff say anyone who is too intoxicated won't be allowed on rides. (Jonathan Hayward/CP)

Usually, the exhibition closes around 6 p.m. and alcohol has to be consumed in beer gardens, save for special events.

CEO Mike McDaniel said it was time the exhibition offered an event for the big kids.

"Obviously [the PNE] is very well-known for adults and teens, but we wanted to do something a bit different," he said. "We're wanting to make sure that people can come out and have a great time ... but also have the freedom to not be stuck in a beer garden drinking."

As for the logistics and inherent risks of allowing people to ride fair rides after a few, McDaniel said park staff have been prepared to prevent mishaps.

The PNE has over 15 acres of park space with roller coasters, carnival games and other attractions. In the past, visitors have been confined to beer gardens if they wanted to have a drink. (Jonathan Hayward/CP)

"Obviously, if somebody has had too many, we would probably not allow them on that ride. We've gone through specific training to ensure staff can spot if someone is too intoxicated for a ride." 

He said visitors will ultimately be responsible to know their limit.

The PNE consulted with the Vancouver Police Department as well as provincial and municipal officials to obtain appropriate liquor licensing for the event. McDaniel said there will also be increased staff and security on site during those nights.

The exhibition has opened up for alcohol friendly events in the past, including 19+ only concerts and craft beer festivals.

With files from Farrah Merali