The Best Things to Do in Vancouver During the Holidays

Christmas at Canada Place, Vancouver | © Vladimir Kostka / Flickr
Christmas at Canada Place, Vancouver | © Vladimir Kostka / Flickr
Photo of Hayley Simpson
Writer14 December 2017

Vancouver is one of the best places in North America to celebrate Christmas. There are plenty of events, places, and markets to visit to get into the Christmas spirit—from Stanley Park to Burnaby to Capilano Suspension Bridge. Check out our guide to the best things to do in Vancouver this holiday season.

Vancouver Christmas Market

Visiting the Vancouver Christmas Market may be the most popular holiday activity in the city. The market, inspired by the Christmas markets that you will find across Europe every year, features over 75 wooden huts selling handcrafted products, mulled wine, German and Austrian beers, and delicious sweet and savory treats. There’s also live entertainment throughout the week, a Christmas carousel, and stunning views across the water to North Vancouver. There’s something for everyone in the family at the Vancouver Christmas Market.

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Bright Nights in Stanley Park

The year 2017 marks the 20th anniversary of Bright Nights in Stanley Park. This area of the park turns into a Christmas wonderland with over three million twinkling lights. Buy a ticket to go on the Bright Nights Train, which takes guests through spectacular light displays. You can also sing along to Christmas classics and see live performances along the way. Entry is by donation, with all proceeds (and a portion of train ticket sales) going to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.

Karaoke Christmas Lights

For those of you who can’t wait to start listening to Christmas carols every year, this is the Vancouver holiday event for you! Hop onboard The Vancouver Trolley Company’s Karaoke Christmas Lights trolley, and sing Christmas karaoke while you visit some of the city’s best Christmassy sights. The first stop is Bright Nights in Stanley Park; you will then journey past more lights (and sing more tunes) before visiting the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden. The last viewing is at the Lights of Hope at St. Paul’s Hospital.

Inside the Karaoke Christmas trolley | © Hayley Simpson

Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain

Enjoy a winter wonderland at the Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain. There are many events to enjoy on top of the mountain, such as wandering through the Light Walk, skating on the pond, and watching Christmas movies at the Theatre in the Sky. You can also visit Santa and his reindeer, check out the Sliding Zone, go for a sleigh ride, and make crafts in the Elf Headquarters. The Peak of Christmas is open for an extended time as well—from November 24, 2017, to January 7, 2018.

Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden

Over one million lights decorate VanDusen Botanical Garden every year for its Festival of Lights celebration. Check out this video produced by the Vancouver Park Board for a glimpse at what you can expect inside the garden. There is also the Air France Carousel, a dancing lights show on Livingstone Lake every 20 minutes, Storytime with Santa, interactive musical puppet shows at Vancouver Puppet Theatre, and an outdoor licensed area at the Fireside Lounge.

Blending flowers with lights at VanDusen Garden |  © Judith Doyle / Flickr

Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum

Burnaby Village Museum is one of the city’s top museums, as it resembles a 1920s tramstop community. The museum celebrates a Heritage Christmas annually, with lights and vintage-themed displays decorating the olden day buildings. There is also Santa visits, theatre performances, community choirs performing on the retro bandstand, a crafts area for children, and heritage baking in the Farmhouse. Take a (free) step back in time this Christmas in Burnaby.

Robson Square Ice Rink

Open from December until late February, skating at the Robson Square Ice Rink is a popular holiday tradition for Vancouver locals. The ice rink is conveniently located in the heart of downtown Vancouver. It’s free and open to the public from 9 am every day (except Christmas Day). There are also rental facilities located at the rink, which is perfect for people visiting the city from out of town.

Robson Square’s ice rink | © Imogene Huxham / Flickr

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park’s Canyon Lights

Canyon Lights is Capilano Suspension Bridge Park’s winter festival. Running from late November to the end of January every year, the Capilano Suspension Bridge is aglow with festive lights, which decorate the Suspension Bridge, the Treetops Adventure area, the Cliffwalk, the rainforest, and the canyon. The eight decorated Douglas firs in Treetops Adventure are actually the world’s tallest Christmas trees, reaching up to 33.5 meters (110 feet) above the forest floor. There’s also a holiday band, a Winter Craft Tent, and the chance to go on a Snowy Owl Prowl. It’s definitely the top Christmas event in West Vancouver every holiday season.

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