25 things to do this Christmas in Vancouver

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Christmas in Vancouver

Christmas in Vancouver is the most wonderful time of the year as the tree-lined streets of downtown and around town become adorned in lights and other festive displays. From parades to holiday themed markets, we have the city’s most comprehensive Christmas coverage.

Get in the Holiday Spirit

St. Paul's Hospital Lights of Hope Vancouver

2014 Christmas Parade in Vancouver

The annual Rogers Santa Clause Parade in Vancouver brings in close to 300,000 people to the downtown core to watch Santa and his reindeer march through the downtown streets.

  • When: Sunday, December 7, start time 1 p.m.
  • Where: The parade is in downtown Vancouver, located just blocks from the Burrard, City Centre, Granville and Waterfront SkyTrain stations.
  • Parade route: The 1.8 kilometre parade route starts at Georgia and Broughton, travels east on Georgia to Howe, turns south on Howe, and finishes at Howe and Davie.

Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

The 50-foot tree will be the tallest Christmas tree in the city.

  • When: Friday, December 5 from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
  • Where: Jack Poole Plaza, Vancouver Convention Centre

Christmas at Canada Place

The sails will be lit up in festive colours and you can also check out the Woodward’s Windows display.

The Woodward’s Windows are a treasured part of Vancouver’s history that was originally displayed in the Woodward’s department store. The windows featured classic holiday scenes with animated characters and elaborate decor.

Following the closure of the Woodward’s department store, Canada Place purchased the displays in 1993 and has continued to incorporate them into the Christmas at Canada Place experience.  

CandyTown at Yaletown

Thousands of seasonal revellers will descend upon Yaletown as the neighbourhood welcomes back downtown Vancouver’s sweetest winter festival.

  • When: Saturday, November 22 from noon to 7 p.m.
  • Where: Mainland Street in Yaletown, Vancouver

St. Paul’s Lights of Hope Ceremony

  • When: Thursday, November 27, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m.
    • Countdown to the lighting of the display and fireworks: 6:30 to 7:00 p.m.
    • Festivities: 7:30 to 8:30 p.m.
  • Where: St. Paul’s Hospital Burrard entrance – 1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver

Go for a walk and check out the many light displays around the city

From Robson Street to the Sheraton Wall Centre, hotels and offices will have some amazing festive displays. The Trinity Street light display in East Vancouver are always impressive.

Donate

From the annual Pan Pacific Christmas Wish Breakfast to the countless charities accepting cash, toys, clothes and canned goods, we should be giving all year round, however, during the holiday season, it’s always great to give a little extra if you can.

Get a real Christmas tree

If you live in a condo, chances are you aren’t allowed to have a real tree, however, for those of you who can, there are plenty of tree lots around the city to get a real tree this Christmas. Check out our guide on where to buy real Christmas trees in Vancouver.

Craft and other markets

Christmas Market

2014 Christmas Market in Vancouver

The beloved annual Vancouver Christmas Market will be celebrating its fifth anniversary in the heart of downtown at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza starting November 22 and will run until Christmas Eve.

With a total of over 50 unique vendors, local and international flavour, beautiful lights and delicious food, guests of all ages will find something to satisfy their yuletide appetites at this year’s Christmas Market.

  • When: November 22 to December 24, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily (11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on December 24)
  • Where: Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza – 650 Hamilton Street, Vancouver

Chinatown Mall Holiday pop up streetwear marketplace

Chinatown Mall is Vancouver’s original pop up streetwear marketplace, occurring seasonally in historic Chinatown.

They work with the best emerging artists, artisans, brands, collectors, curators, designers & shops to create a unique shopping concept targeting Vancouver’s ever growing streetwear community.

  • When: Saturday, December 6 from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
  • Where: 50 East Pender, Chinese Cultural Centre, Vancouver.
  • Tickets: tickets available on Eventbrite

Got Craft?

Vancouver largest indie craft fair’s holiday edition happens over two days and aims to bring together a community that fosters handmade and DIY culture. The fair features over 75 handmade designers, craft workshops, tasty treats, music, free swag bags and more!

  • When: Saturday, December 13 and Sunday, December 14 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
  • Where: Maritime Labour Centre – 1880 Triumph Street, Vancouver

Concerts, shows and other holiday events

shutterstock_162854663

Image: Ugly Christmas Sweater via Shutterstock

Book your night out for NYE

It’s never too early to plan for the biggest night out in the city, this holiday season, make sure to grab your tickets to the NYE party of your choice. Check out our guide to NYE 2015 Parties in Vancouver.

Krakit Escape Game HolidayThemed Room

  • When: November 27hth to January 1st

Hours: 

  • Monday to Thursday, 3 to 10:30 p.m.
  • Friday. 2:45 p.m. to 12 a.m.
  • Saturday & Sunday 11:00 a.m. to 12 a.m.
  • Where: 4035 North Road, Burnaby (North of Lougheed Hwy on the West Side of North Road)

    Phone: 604-868-5512 (call for private bookings and corporate team building events)

Concerts

There are plenty of concerts happening this holiday season. From big to small we have covered them all. Check out our listings for more concert information.

The Nutcracker

Follow the fearless female heroine, Clara, as her Christmas dream becomes magical reality. Danced to Tchaikovsky’s glorious music, Clara’s turn-of-the-century stately mansion becomes a whirlwind fantasy of live toy soldiers, dancing mice and a mischievous bear who steals the Christmas pudding. Tickets here.

  • When: December 12 to 14, performances at 7:30 p.m.; December 13 to 14, performances at 2 p.m.
  • Where: Queen Elizabeth Theatre
  • Who: Royal Winnipeg Ballet

Flyover Canada Christmas Edition

FlyOver Canada transforms into a winter wonderland this holiday season as we take guests on a magical journey with Santa across Canada and on to the North Pole – from December 5 to January 6.

In addition to the special Christmas edition of the ride, they’ve got Christmas decorations, holiday music, lights, hot drinks, festive food and more!

  • When: December 5 to January 6
  • Where: 201-999 Canada Place, Vancouver
  • Tickets: at FlyOver Canada

Karaoke Christmas Trolley Tour

Three hours of Christmas family fun featuring Stanley Park’s Bright Nights Display and Van Dusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights.

  • When: December 10 to December 30 (no tours on Christmas Day)
  • Where: Departure at 6:30 p.m. from Canada Place every evening

A Traditional Christmas from the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

Metro Vancouver’s most beloved Holiday music tradition plays to sold out houses in South Delta, Burnaby, the North Shore, Surrey and downtown Vancouver. Get your tickets early.

  • Where: Various theatres across Metro Vancouver
  • When: See details at the VSO website

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

The most fun you can have with your knitwear on. Celebrate a season of sweateriness with the original Ugly Christmas Sweater Party. It’s your opportunity to showcase your ugliest, loudest, jingle-bell-est sweater and grant a wish for a seriously ill child.

  • When: Friday, December 19
  • Where: Commodore Ballroom, Vancouver

Holiday Cheer at Park Place West 

Music fest, selfie and holiday lights at Surrey City Centre.

  • When: December 1 to 31
  • Where: Park Avenue West

Around Town

Canyon Lights

Go Ice Skating for free at Robson Square

Open from December 1 until, likely, the end of February 2015, go skating in the heart of downtown!

  • Sunday to Thursday, 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Friday and Saturday, 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.

Holiday dates and times

  • Christmas Eve, December 24 – 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • Christmas Day, December 25 – Noon to 5 p.m.
  • Boxing Day, December 26 – 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.
  • New Year’s Eve, December 31 – 9 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • New Year’s Day, January 1 – 9 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Where: 800 Robson Street, Vancouver (Robson & Howe)

Note:

  • Skate rental ends 30 mins prior to close
  • Cash only
  • Helmets are mandatory for Children 12 years and under
  • Skate and helmet rentals, and a concession stand are available on site
  • Skating is free if you bring your own skates
  • Rentals are available for a cost of $4

The Peak at Grouse Mountain

Bring your family to Santa’s Workshop and meet reindeer, or take a sleigh-ride through our mystical alpine forest. You can also experience the tranquil beauty of skating on our 8,000 square foot mountaintop Ice Skating Pond, surrounded by snow-topped trees.

  • When: November 28 to December 24, 2014
  • Where: Grouse Mountain, North Vancouver

VanDusen Garden’s Festival of Lights

Experience the Festival of Lights, a frozen winter wonderland with over one million lights decorating VanDusen Garden.

Stroll with friends and family through themed areas and enjoy the Dancing Lights show on Livingstone Lake, the gnome performance, and the shadow puppet show. Have photos taken with Santa, savour holiday treats, and delight in much more!

  • When: Wednesday, December 10 to Sunday, January 4. Closed on Christmas Day
  • Where: VanDusen Botanical Gardens – 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver

See the tallest Christmas tree in the world at Canyon Lights in North Vancouver

  • When:  November 29 to January 3
  • Holiday activities from 4 to 9 p.m.; Park is open from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily (except Christmas Day when the park is closed)
  • Price: $69 for a family (two adults, one or two children – includes memberships for B.C. residents) or $32.95 for adults, $12 for children (6-12) 
  • Where: Capilano Suspension Bridge Park – 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver

Bright Nights at Stanley Park

During the holiday season, the Bright Nights Train and Plaza at Stanley Park sparkles with three million twinkling lights, decorating the darkness that comes early at this time of year.

  • When: Thursday, November 27, to Sunday, January 4 (Closed on Christmas Day)
  • Where: Stanley Park, more info here
  • Tickets: Entrance by donation (to see the lights), $6-11 for train tickets

Holidays at the Aquarium

Celebrate the holidays with your aquatic friends and experience a winter wonderland like no other.

Start your visit by entering the giant walk-through Christmas tree in the Ocean Courtyard and see if you can make your way through the outdoor maze of decorated trees.

  • When: November 27 to January 4
  • Where: Vancouver Aquarium

 

Know of something we missed? Let us know below!

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