40 Things to do in Vancouver this Holiday Season

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cold-1840617_960_720It’s the most wonderful time… Music, art, neighbourhood celebrations, LOTS of shopping and plenty of fun free events for the family. Here are 40 things to do in Vancouver this Holiday season!

SHOPPING

1. Portobello Holiday Market

Portobello Holiday Market - 2016Looking for the perfect Holiday gift? Browse Portobello West’s 85+ vendors at their annual Holiday Market! If you’re looking for the best in high quality, locally made, one-of-a-kind goods, this is the place to be. Make a day of it and enjoy their selection of live music, food trucks and other family friendly activities. Read our Holiday gift-buying guide HERE for more info.

Portobello West Holiday Market
Nov 26 – 27, 2016
Creekside Community Centre (Olympic Village)
Admission is $2. Children under 12 free and you can RSVP online.

2. Eastside Flea December Markets

Eastside Flea Holiday - 2016Local artisan goods, vintage collectibles, rarities and so much more. Eastside Flea has made quite a name for themselves in the past few years, partly for their ability to throw an excellent party. Expect DJs, Food Trucks, and seasonal drink specials. Now at their permanent location situated right between Mount Pleasant and Chinatown, they’re the perfect one-stop-shop for some truly unique Holiday gifts.

Eastside Flea December Markets
December 2, 4, 16 and 18
Ellis Building (1024 Main St)
$3 admission or $5 weekend pass. All ages welcome.

3. Etsy Made in Canada Vancouver Market

Etsy MarketDiscover some new local designers and artists from Vancouver! The Etsy Vancouver Market features over 80 independent makers in the gorgeous Pipe Shop Building in North Vancouver. Each market is uniquely and carefully curated, featuring amazing new talent and debut vendors at every event.

Etsy Made in Canada Vancouver Market
Saturday December 3, 2016 10:00am – 8:00pm
Sunday December 4, 2016 1:000am – 5:00pm
115 Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver

4. Retro Design and Antiques Fair

Looking for something truly one-of-a-kind? Don’t miss the Retro Design and Antiques Fair at the creation Cultural Centre! 175 tables and booths of fabulous finds for you and your eclectic abode. Mid century modern, art deco and plenty more!

Retro Design and Antiques Fair
December 4, 2016
Croatian Cultural Centre (3250 Commercial Dr, Vancouver BC)

5. Make it! Handmade Shopping Experience

Make It VancouverAnother fantastic opportunity to actually enjoy your Holiday shopping this year! 265 local artisans will gather at the PNE Forum to sell a selection of gorgeous handmade, one-of-a-kind items ranging from clothing, jewelry, food, décor, art and everything in between. There will also be food trucks and a beer garden, perfect for even the most pessimistic shoppers.

Make it! Handmade Shopping Experience
December 8 – 11, 2016
The PNE Forum (2901 East Hastings St)
$7, Free for kids 12 & under

6. Strathcona Winter Craft Fair

Strathcona Craft FairCome out and support your local economy by buying handmade at the 2016 Strathcona Winter Craft Fair! There will be a wide variety of items from local crafters, as well loads of delicious baking for sale.

Strathcona Winter Craft Fair
November 26, 2016 10:00am – 4:00pm
601 Keefer St, Vancouver BC

7. Emily Carr Student Art Sale

14925266_10154092105097602_1612840024265392947_nA Vancouver tradition, the legendary Emily Carr University of Art and Design Student Art Sale is now in it’s 43rd year! Choose from a wide selection of original paintings, photographs, prints, ceramics, sculpture, wearable works, housewares, greeting cards and more. A wonderful opportunity to purchase original artwork from Emily Carr’s up-and-coming artists and designers!

Emily Carr Student Art Sale 2016
November 25 – 27, 2016
Granville Island (1399 Johnston Street)

8. TOQUE at the Western Front

Toque Western Front 2016TOQUE is Western Front’s annual fundraiser and craft fair. The event features a curated selection of talented B.C.-based artists, designers and artisans and attracts over 2000 visitors over three days. Proceeds from TOQUE support the year-round art and music programs at Western Front.

TOQUE
December 2 – 4, 2016
Western Front (303 8 AVE E, Vancouver, BC)

9. The Oddfellows Market – Get Scrooged

Get your Christmas shopping done at this amazing market where you will find local artisans, tasty treats and vintage goods all under one roof. Worried about shopping fatigue? Just take a break at one of the market’s food trucks.

The Oddfellows Market
December 3 – 4, 2016
Wise Hall (1882 Adnac, Vancouver BC)

HOLIDAY EVENTS

10. Vancouver Christmas Market

Christmas Market 2016A Vancouver tradition! The authentic German-inspired Christmas Market boasts delicious food, drinks and a ton of holiday themed activities. If you’re looking for some traditional holidays gifts, be sure to browse their selection of authentic wood carvings, toys, knitted goods, nutcrackers and pottery.

Vancouver Christmas Market
November 26 – December 31, 2016
Jack Poole Plaza (1055 Canada Place, Vancouver BC)

11. Enchant Christmas Light Maze and Market

Enchant Maze 2016The most immersive Christmas experience out there. Enchant is the world’s largest Christmas Light Maze, made up of over 55,000 sq. ft. of illuminated Christmas themed sculptures. Enchant also features a market with over 40 local vendors, 12 food trucks and a licensed eating area. Eat, drink and get lost!

Enchant Christmas Light Maze and Market
November 25 – December 31, 2016
1st and Crow St

12. Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park

Bright Nights 2016Did you know the Bright Nights Christmas Train and Stanley Park Train Plaza get their sparkle from over three million twinkling lights? Hop on and enjoy the beautiful displays and live performers along the way!

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Bright Nights Christmas Train
November 28 – January 1, 2017
Stanley Park

13. The Spirit of Christmas At Historic Stewart Farm

Snow_Farmhouse A small
Historic Stewart Farm is open all holiday season to remind you just what Christmas is all about. The heritage farmhouse is decorated in authentic Victorian style, complete with local greenery and fresh baking in the wood stove. Guests are welcome to tour the farmhouse and take a scenic walk of the riverside grounds, or partake in one of their many festive activities.

Historic Stewart Farm
Tuesday to Friday10:00am to 4:00pm
Saturday and Sunday12noon to 4pm.
Holiday events: Nov 26 – Dec 18, 2016
13723 Crescent Road, Surrey BC

14. Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden

VanDusen Festival of Lights - 2016
A true winter wonderland decorated with over one million twinkling lights. Enjoy the garden’s new carousel and the famous Dancing Lights show on Livingstone Lake while keeping an eye out for roving Scandinavian gnomes and reindeer in the garden. Don’t forget to take a photo with Santa.

Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden
December 1 – January 2, 2017
5251 Oak St, Vancouver, BC

15. Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting

People are always asking when it’s appropriate to start decorating the house, well, how about when the city’s tree is officially lit! Join in on the lighting ceremony and all the other family friendly activities this year at Robson Square.

Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting
December 2, 2016 (5:00pm – 7:00pm)
800 Robson St, Vancouver, BC

16. CandyTown: Downtown’s Free Holiday Festival

CandyTown - YaletownExperience Yaletown as CandyTown! Mainland Street will transform into a complete winter wonderland, complete with lights, giant candy canes, live music, free horse carriage rides, ice carving, candy making and plenty of opportunities to do your Holiday shopping.

CandyTown
November 26, 2016 (12:00pm – 7:00pm)
Mainland Street (Yaletown)

17. Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge - Holiday 2016
Photo: Jon Ross (Heliwood Media).

One of the most beautiful ways to spend a holiday evening. Experience the suspension bridge, rainforest and canyon as a world of visual enchantment. See the world’s tallest living Christmas tree (153 feet tall!) and check out ‘Fireflies’, a new interactive lighting display in the rainforest. Using giant flashlights, guests can magically awaken waves of tiny lights that glimmer and twinkle like fireflies.

Capilano Suspension Bridge
November 24 – January 8, 2017
3735 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver, BC

18. Santa Claus Parade

Santa Claus Parade 2016The Annual Rogers Santa Claus Parade is one of downtown’s most cheerful Holiday festivities. This year’s parade will feature over 65 floats and 3,500 participants. They’ll also be collecting food bank donations at the Coast Capital Savings Christmas Square.

Santa Claus Parade
December 4, 2016 at 12:00pm
800 block of Robson Street, between Howe and Hornby

19. Christmas in Kerrisdale

Kerrisdale ChristmasFree horse carriage rides and plenty of seasonal cheer for the whole family, every Saturday in December!

Christmas in Kerrisdale
Saturdays from December 3 – December 23, 2016
2225 West 41st Ave, Vancouver BC

20. Carol Ships ‘Parade of Lights’

‘Parade of Lights’ has been gracing Vancouver’s waters with Holiday cheer for over 50 years. On peak evenings, this holiday tradition has grown to more than 50 decorated boats, with in excess of 100,000 lights, and carries over 30,000 people during the month of December festival.

Carol Ships ‘Parade of Lights’
Westin Bayshore Resort & Marina

21. Robson Square Ice Rink

Robson Square Ice RinkWhether you’re with the kids, in need of a romantic night out, or looking to laugh your head off amongst friends, there’s no place more ideal than the Robson Square Ice Rink. Skate rentals are $4.00 but it’s otherwise free for you to enjoy!

Robson Square Ice Rink
December 1 – February 14, 2017
800 Robson St, Vancouver BC

22. Balloon Winter Wonderland in Wesbrook Village

Westbrook Village BalloonsRing in the Holiday with free entertainment courtesy of Wesbrook Village! Holiday in Wesbrook will feature four familiar holiday scenes, made entirely from over 2,500 biodegradable, nitrogen-filled balloons. There will also be a Holiday craft fair, carolers, and photos with Santa on December 3rd.

Wesbrook Village
December 3 – 18 (10:00am – 8:00pm)

23. Kids Club: Make Your Own Cards

WF CardsHey kids! Whole Foods Burnaby has got all of the card making supplies you could ever dream. Personalize your Holiday greetings with stamps and other fun arts and crafts supplies.

Kids Club: Make Your Own Cards
November 26 – 27, 2016
Whole Foods Burnaby (4420 Lougheed Highway, Burnaby BC)

ARTS, CULTURE AND FUN

24. Vancouver TheatreSports League’s Christmas Queen

Christmas Queen - FeatureShe’s baaaaack! The Christmas Queen, in all her nasty glory is returning this holiday season with the latest installment in the series, Christmas Queen 3 – The Bachelorette Edition. Her beaus-in-waiting represent some of the ‘Who’s Who’ of the holiday season – Elf on a Shelf, Jack Frost, Scrooge, The Grinch and even Santa himself. Enjoy a laughing induced stomachache courtesy of the city’s best Improv players.

Christmas Queen at the Improv Centre
November 23 – December 17 (Wednesday through Saturday – 7:30pm)
December 18 (2:00pm and 7:30pm)
December 19 – 23 (Monday through Friday at 7:30pm)
1502 Duranleau St, Vancouver, BC

25. Nutcracker at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre

Nutcracker 2016A true Holiday CLASSIC! Set in turn-of-the-century Imperial Russia, this extravagant production displays more than a million dollars in stunning sets and costumes. Tchaikovsky’s glorious musical score will be played live by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. A Holiday event the family will remember for years to come.

Nutcracker at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre
December 8, 9, 10, 11
650 Hamilton St, Vancouver, BC

26. Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s Traditional Christmas

VSO - Traditional Christmas 2016Hark! The Herald, O Holy Night, O Come All Ye Faithful… Let the gorgeous sounds of the VSO set the mood for a perfect Holiday season. Yes, there will be plenty of opportunities to sing along. December 8 – 18 in various locations.

27. Paul Anthony’s Talent Time: Christmas Special!

rsz_talent-time-20160107-096_copyIt’s become a bit of a tradition…you can expect song, dance, comedy, weirdness and an over all feeling of joy to the world! Paul Anthony’s Talent Time is a live comedy/variety/talk show that pays homage to the classic variety format, with a focus on local personalities and novelty entertainment. You just never know what to expect.

Paul Anthony’s Talent Time
December 1, 2016
Rio Theatre (1660 E Broadway, Vancouver, BC)

28. Alice In Wonderland

Alice in Wonderland Holiday 2016In late December of 1865, Wonderland was introduced to Alice and her readers by Lewis Carroll, who quickly became one of best-selling books of all time. In honour of this timeless classic, Alchemy Theatre is bringing this beloved story to life in this visually stunning and family friendly production that combines the best moments and characters from both Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland, Through the Looking-Glass and What Alice Found There. Enter Promo Code “AWESOMEALICE” for discounted tickets until Dec. 4th.

Alice In Wonderland
December 8 – 18, 2016
Alchemy Theatre (Studio 1398, Granville Island, Vancouver BC)

29. Juxtapoz X Superflat at the Vancouver Art Gallery

DSC_9401_zpsjmoplfjs-1Pop-culture, street graffiti, traditional craft, fine art, Japanese culture, western culture and consumer culture collide in the VAG’s latest exhibition. It’s a colourful, wild and wonderful world!

Vancouver Art Gallery
November 5, 2016 – February 5, 2017
750 Hornby Street, Vancouver, BC

FOOD

30. Hot Chocolate Festival
Hot Chocolate Festival 2016How often do you allow yourself to indulge in a mug of hot chocolate? Make up for lost time at Vancouver’s 6th annual Hot Chocolate Festival. 25 participating cafes will provide 30 days of hot chocolate bliss featuring over 59 flavours and varieties of the wintery drink. Proceeds from the festival will go towards the DTES Women’s job training program of the PHS community services society and East Van Roasters.

Hot Chocolate Festival
January 16 – February 14, 2017
Various Locations

OUTDOOR

31. Visit the Peak of Christmas on Grouse Mountain

Grouse Mountain X-MasSkating on a 8,000 square foot mountaintop frozen pond, walking through light installations, petting reindeer, strolling through the gingerbread village, and easting breakfast with Santa are just a few of the activities happening this year on Grouse Mountain!

The Peak of Christmas on Grouse Mountain
November 25 – January 2, 2016
6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, BC

32. Go play on Mt Seymour

Mt SeymourThey’ve got trails for the snowboarders and skiers in the family, but if you’re looking for something a little less “extreme” try out snowshoeing, tobogganing or snowtubing at Mt Seymour! All the fun without the falling.

1700 Mount Seymour Road North Vancouver, BC

33. Enjoy the Snow!

Photo: Big White Ski Resort.  Yes, ski season is just around the corner! Whether you’re a snowboarder, skier or just a fan of wool socks and fireplaces, British Columbia is definitely the place to be. The province’s 13 major ski resorts account for over 1,400 designated runs, making for a true winter wonderland of mountains, resorts and snowy activities all within driving distance. Read our guide to BC’s 13 major ski resorts for more information!

34. The Spirit Of Christmas: Sea to Sky Gondola

Sea to Sky ChristmasGo up, up and away! On Dec 1st, Sea to Sky Gondola will launch its holiday season complete with an apres program that includes cheese and chocolate fondue, winter stew, cocoa and festive cocktails in the Summit Lodge. Throughout the season, Sea to Sky Gondola will be offering a ton of other festive activities, including Christmas forest walks, pancakes and pictures with Santa, snowshoeing, Christmas storytimes, family sing-a-longs, caroling and more!

The Spirit of Christmas
December 1 – January 1, 2017
Sea to Sky Gondola (36800 BC-99, Squamish, BC)

35. Polar Bear Swim 

Bill Keay / Vancouver Sun.
Bill Keay / Vancouver Sun.

What a way to ring in the new year! The Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club is one of the largest and oldest Polar Bear Clubs in the world. Its initial swim was in 1920 when a small number of hardy swimmers took the plunge into English Bay on New Year’s Day.

Vancouver Polar Bear Swim
January 1, 2017 (2:30pm)
English Bay

36. Winter Solstice Lantern Festival

Winter Lantern FestivalCome celebrate this free community event with a glowing constellation of lanterns shining in four Vancouver neighbourhoods. These four little festivals are community-based and reflect the unique nature of each neighbourhood. Intimate and accessible, each invites your participation.

Winter Solstice Lantern Festival
December 21, 2016 (6:00pm)
Throughout Yaletown, Granville Island, Chinatown and Strathcona

CHARITY AND GOOD WILL

37. Yule Dule

Yule Duel brings together choirs from across the Lower Mainland to sing Christmas carols loud and proud from the sidewalks of Gastown. The best in show go head-to-head in a series of sing-offs on the main stage, with awards presented in various categories. All proceeds benefit May’s Place, a hospice in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

December 1, 2016
Water St in Gastown

38. Best X-Mas Ever: Fundraiser for the Sarah Mclachlan School Of Music

Best X Mas EverIt wouldn’t be the holidays without a little good will. Mt Seymour and a few other fantastic local businesses will be throwing a party this December at Vancouver’s famous Anza Club. Live music, dancing, door prizes and a merry X-mas for all!

Best X-Mas Ever
December 3, 2016
Anza Club (3 W 8th Ave, Vancouver, BC)

39. Ugly Christmas Sweater Party 2016

Ugly Sweater Party 2016One of the weirdest and wildest Holiday events of the year! For all the debauchery that might ensue, there’s a good cause at hand. The Ugly Christmas Sweater movement in Vancouver raises money in support of the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada. Get ugly, celebrate and make some wishes come true!

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party 2016
December 23, 2016
Commodore Ballroom (868 Granville St, Vancouver, BC)

40. St. Paul’s Lights of Hope Fundraiser

St Pauls Lights of HopeOne of the best parts about driving through downtown during the season! Join St. Paul’s on November 24th for our community celebration and fundraiser, complete with fireworks, food and those iconic Holiday decorations.

St. Paul’s Lights of Hope Fundraiser
November 24, 2016
1081 Burrard St, Vancouver BC