50 things to do in Vancouver this holiday season

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It’s the most wonderful time of year! Food, art, music, holiday cheer, neighbourhood celebrations, LOTS of shopping and plenty of fun free events for the family. Here are 50 things to do in Vancouver this Holiday season:

SHOPPING

1. Portobello Holiday Market

Looking for the perfect Holiday gift? Browse Portobello West’s 90+ 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.

Portobello West Holiday Market
Nov 25 – 26, 2017
Creekside Community Centre (Olympic Village)

2. Eastside Flea December Markets

Local artisan goods, vintage collectibles, rarities and so much more. Eastside Flea (ESF) 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. ESF is the perfect one-stop-shop for some truly unique Holiday gifts.

Eastside Flea December Markets
Weekend of November 17 – 19, December 1 – 3 and December 15 – 17
Ellis Building (1024 Main St)

3. Make it! Handmade Shopping Experience

Another fantastic opportunity to actually enjoy your Holiday shopping this year! Hundreds of local artisans will gather at the PNE Forum to sell a selection of gorgeous handmade 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 7 – 10, 2017
The PNE Forum (2901 East Hastings St)

4. Fall for Local Holiday Market

Fall for Local is one-of-kind shop small event, that prides itself on curating a high-quality modern pop-up featuring independent brands. Not only can you shop from 80 brands, but can get festive and make a free holiday wreath, wrap your gifts at their free gift wrapping station and warm up with fresh coffee. Get there early as the first 50 guests will receive a free canvas tote bag filled with local goodies on both days.

Fall for Local Holiday Market
December 9 – 10, 2017
The Pipeshop Venue (115 Victory Ship Way)

5. TOQUE Fundraiser and Craft Fair

TOQUE 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 Fundraiser and Craft Fair
December 1 – 3, 2017
Western Front (303 8 Ave E)

6. ShinyFuzzyMuddy Holiday Market

Created as an antidote to large-scale craft fairs, ShinyFuzzyMuddy aims to present a pleasant shopping atmosphere for those who love art and design. With a decided lack of holiday music and kitschy decorations, patrons can be sure to find meaningful objects to enhance the quality of their lives.

ShinyFuzzyMuddy Holiday Market
December 9 – 10, 2017
Heritage Hall (3102 Main St)

7. Emily Carr Student Art Sale

A Vancouver tradition, the legendary Emily Carr University of Art and Design Student Art Sale is now in it’s 44th 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 2017
November 24 – 26, 2017
Emily Carr School of Art + Design (520 East 1st Ave)

8. Retro Design and Antiques Fair

Looking for a unique gift? 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 3, 2017
Croatian Cultural Centre (3250 Commercial Dr)

9. Britannia Christmas Craft Fair

Want an early start on your Christmas shopping? Come check out the 34th annual Britannia Christmas Craft Fair.

Britannia Christmas Craft Fair
November 17 – 19, 2017
Britannia Community Services Centre ( 1661 Napier St)

HOLIDAY EVENTS

10. Vancouver Christmas Market

The Vancouver Christmas market is a German-inspired Christmas Market that 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 22 – December 24, 2017
Jack Poole Plaza (1055 Canada Pl)

11. Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park

It’s the 20th year of Bright Nights! Did 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!

Bright Nights Christmas Train
November 30, 2017 – January 6, 2018
Stanley Park

12. Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden

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, all 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, 2017 – January 7, 2018
VanDusen Botanical Garden (5251 Oak St)

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13. 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 the Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting.

Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting
December 1, 2017 from 5:00pm – 7:00pm
Vancouver Art Gallery (750 Hornby St)

14. Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge

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 and see the world’s tallest living Christmas tree (153 feet tall!).

Canyon Lights
November 23, 2017 – January 28, 2018
Capilano Suspension Bridge (3735 Capilano Rd)

15. Santa Claus Parade

Yes, it’s happening! The annual Santa Claus Parade is one of downtown’s most cheerful Holiday festivities. This year’s parade will feature over 60 floats and 2,700 participants. With the support of sponsors and parade spectators, the parade collects thousands of dollars and thousands of pounds of food for the numerous local families the Food Bank supports.

TELUS Santa Claus Parade
December 3, 2017 at 12:00pm
800 block of Robson St, between Howe St and Hornby St

16. A Fort Langley Christmas

Hear Kwantlen stories, taste a chestnut roasted over the fire, and make a beautiful cedar ornament. Take a guided tour or see what Fort Langley’s interpreters have baked up in the outdoor oven. Admire the giant outdoor Christmas tree and take family photos at various scenic spots on site. ??lel?m’ at the fort café will offer hot drinks, baked goods, tourtière and cookie decorating.

A Fort Langley Christmas
December 22, 23, 27 – 30, 2017
Fort Langley (23433 Mavis Ave)

17. Glow Christmas Light Gardens & Market

Glow Christmas/Facebook

This winter season, Glow Christmas Light Gardens & Market is bringing the holiday magic to the Fraser Valley. This massive, indoor Christmas event includes 4 holiday themed light gardens, a stunning 210 ft. light tunnel, and a huge Christmas market with food, beverages, and local pop-up shops.

Glow Christmas Light Gardens & Market
November 22 – December 30, 2017
Milner Village Garden Centre (6690 216 St)

18. CP Holiday Train

The CP Holiday Train passes through the Continental Divide

The CP Holiday Train is an annual Christmas tradition that began in 1999. The fun, free community event pairs the excitement of a train lit up in holiday lights with the spirit of giving.

CP Holiday Train
December 16 – 17, 2017
Includes stops at Haney-Maple Ridge, Pitt Meadows, Port Moody, and Port Coquitlam.

19. Balloon Winter Wonderland in Wesbrook Village

 


Ring in the holidays 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.

Balloon Winter Wonderland in Wesbrook Village
December 2 – 10, 2017
Wesbrook Village (3378 Wesbrook Mall)

20. Christmas in Kerrisdale

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

Christmas in Kerrisdale
Saturdays from December 2 – December 23, 2017
2225 West 41st Ave

21. Holiday Heights at Bloedel Conservatory

Oh, an arctic oasis! Warm up inside the tropical dome while enjoying the exotic birds, lush gardens and holiday light display produced by MK Illumination. Find all the hidden penguins in the arctic oasis for our holiday-themed scavenger hunt. Enjoy the evening city views and lit fountains at Queen Elizabeth Park.

Holiday Heights at Bloedel Conservatory
December 15, 2017 – January 7, 2018
Bloedel Conservatory (4600 Cambie St)

22. Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum

A Season of old-fashioned Fun and spectacular light displays. Stroll through the streets of the village to see wreaths, cedar swags and vintage-themed displays. At the bandstand, visitors can create their own magical holiday show with lights that change colours to sound.

Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum
November 25, 2017 – January 5, 2018
Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum (6501 Deer Lake Ave)

23. Christmas at Canada Place 

For the past 30 years, Christmas at Canada Place has been one of Vancouver’s favourite holiday events, bringing communities together to celebrate the festive season while raising funds and awareness for Strathcona Community Centre’s Food Security for Children program. Highlights include the Woodward’s Windows, the avenue of Christmas trees, festive arts and crafts, and much more.

Christmas at Canada Place
November 23 – December 31, 2017
Canada Place (999 Canada Pl)

24. Santa Day at the Cannery Farmers’ Market 

We’ll be on our best behaviour on December 3rd at the Cannery Farmers’ Market  because Santa is coming to the Cannery! Kids of all ages will be able to meet the jolly elf himself in the Boiler House Theatre for photos (bring your own camera).

Cannery Farmers’ Market
December 3, 2017
Gulf of Georgia Cannery (12138 Fourth Ave)

25. Lights at Lafarge

Lights at Lafarge Coquitlam holidays
City of Coquitlam – Municipality/Facebook

Join in the magic of the opening night of the Lower Mainland’s largest free outdoor lights display. Expect stunning light displays, live entertainment and activities for the whole family. Free family fun!

Lights at Lafarge (Coquitlam)
November 25, 2017 – January 21, 2018
Lafarge Lake, Town Centre Park (1299 Pinetree Way)

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26. Winter Holidays at the Roundhouse

Join the Roundhouse Community Centre for photos with Santa, cookie decorating with Holiday themed cookies, and festive outdoor lighting. Bring the whole family to enjoy some hot chocolate while taking in this fun event. All proceeds benefit the Roundhouse and Elsie Roy after-school programming.

Winter Holidays at the Roundhouse
December 9 – 10, 2017
Roundhouse Community Centre (181 Roundhouse Mews)

27. Karaoke Christmas Lights

Join The Vancouver Trolley Company and sing your favourite holiday carols while visiting two of Vancouver’s most spectacular light displays. Festively decorated trolleys equipped with TV’s and karaoke machines for your seasonal singing enjoyment will depart every evening from Canada Place at 6:30pm.

Karaoke Christmas Lights
December 1 – 29, 2017
Canada Place (999 Canada Pl)

OUTDOOR

28. Robson Square Ice Rink

Whether 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 better 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, 2017 – February, 2018
Robson Square (800 Robson St)

29. Visit the Peak of Christmas on Grouse Mountain

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

The Peak of Christmas on Grouse Mountain
November 24, 2017 – January 7, 2018
Grouse Mountain (6400 Nancy Greene Way)

30. Snow tubing at Mt Seymour

They’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.

Mount Seymour (1700 Mount Seymour Rd)

31. Skiing, snowboarding and so much more

Photo: Revelstoke Mountain 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 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 of Vancouver. Find the opening dates for 18 BC ski areas HERE.

32. The Spirit Of Christmas: Sea to Sky Gondola

On November 24th, 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: Sea to Sky Gondola
November 24, 2017 – January 7, 2018
Sea to Sky Gondola (36800 BC-99)

33. Winter Solstice Lantern Festival 

Come 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, 2017
Throughout Yaletown, Granville Island, Chinatown and Strathcona

34. Polar Bear Swim 

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, 2018
English Bay

ART, CULTURE AND FUN

35. Goh Ballet presents The Nutcracker 

This heart-warming production is sure to delight audiences of all ages with more than 200 glittering costumes, dramatic sets and valuable lessons – all danced to Tchaikovsky’s memorable score performed live by members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra.

The Nutcracker
December 14 – 19, 2017
The Centre (777 Homer St)

36. Vancouver TheatreSports League’s Christmas Queen 4

She’s baaaaack! The Christmas Queen, in all her nasty glory is returning this holiday season with the latest installment in the series, Christmas Queen 4 – Secret Santa. Confusion and hijinks ensue when the Queen and Santa exchange bodies in a Freaky Friday-style magical sleight-of-hand.

VTSL – Christmas Queen 4
November 22 – December 23, 2017
Improv Centre (1502 Duranleau St)

37. Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s Traditional Christmas

Hark! 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.

VSO’s Traditional Christmas
December 8 – 17, 2017
Various Locations

38. The Day Before Christmas 

Alex is a perfectionist who is desperately holding fast to her Christmas traditions. While juggling family and work—and a movie star—she loses control of her holiday plans, and her home becomes a disaster zone. Can she save the turkey from the dog and salvage a broken-down tree? Find out in this infectious comedic play that is sure to make the holidays bright.

The Day Before Christmas
November 16 – December 24, 2017
Goldcorp stage at the BMO Theatre Centre (203 – 162 West 1st Ave)

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39. Christmas with the Bach Choir

Add your own voice to beloved carols and experience the thrill of singing along with 400 singers, the famous Orpheum Theatre organ and A Touch of Brass ensemble. Join in as all our choirs from the tiny Piccolos (age 5), to the celebrated adult choir perform celebrated holiday traditions. Capped off by the traditional singing of “O Holy Night” by all members of the choir, you’re sure to leave this event with an uplifted spirit filled with holiday cheer.

Christmas with the Bach Choir
December 3, 2017
Orpheum Theatre (601 Smithe St)

40. A Christmas Carol at the Gateway Theatre

Ebenezer Scrooge is a greedy miser who despises Christmas. One Christmas Eve, he is visited by the ghost of a deceased business partner and the Spirits of Christmas Past, Present, and Future. Scrooge is given the opportunity to reflect upon his life, examine his heart, and be transformed by the spirit of the season.

A Christmas Carol at the Gateway Theatre
December 7 – 24, 2017
Gateway Theatre (6500 Gilbert Rd)

41. Chutzpah! Festival 2018

Chutzpah! The Lisa Nemetz International Jewish Performing Arts Festival is the Lower Mainland’s winter music, dance, comedy and theatre festival presenting international, national and local artists. The Chutzpah! Festival delivers audiences work that is forward-looking, multi-layered, and entertaining.

Chutzpah! Festival 2018
February 16 – March 13, 2018
Norman Rothstein Theatre (950 W 41st Ave)

42. CONTACT Winter Music Festival

Western Canada’s largest indoor EDM festival, will return to BC Place for the sixth consecutive year. CONTACT 2017 will feature headlining performances by Armin Van BuurenMarshmelloCarnage and more.

CONTACT Winter Music Festival
December 26 – 27, 2017
BC Place (777 Pacific Blvd)

43. Takashi Murakami: The Octopus Eats Its Own Leg

From his early works to new, never-before-seen paintings and selected sculptures from different periods, the more than fifty works in this exhibition reflect Takashi Murakami’s exquisite level of craft, his insightful engagement with history and the consistent, universal themes that have guided his practice over the past three decades.

Takashi Murakami Exhibit at the VAG
February 3 – May 6, 2018
Vancouver Art Gallery (750 Hornby St)

44. KURIOS by Cirque du Soleil

Step into the curio cabinet of an ambitious inventor who defies the laws of time, space and dimension in order to reinvent everything around him. Suddenly, the visible becomes invisible, perspectives are transformed, and the world is literally turned upside down.

Cirque du Soleil
Ongoing until December 31, 2017
Concord Pacific Place (88 Pacific Blvd)

FOOD AND DRINK

45. Hot Chocolate Festival

How often do you allow yourself to indulge in a mug of hot chocolate? Make up for lost time at Vancouver’s 7th annual Hot Chocolate Festival. 29 participating cafes will provide one month of hot chocolate bliss featuring over 61 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 19 – February 14, 2018
Various Locations

46. Dine Out Vancouver 2018

Hundreds of participating local restaurants will offer fixed price menus at $20, $30, and $40 price points, including many that will include exciting BC VQA wine pairings (for an additional charge). Here’s an opportunity to enjoy Vancouver’s finest restaurants!

Dine Out 2018
January 19 – February 4, 2018
Various Locations

CHARITY AND GOOD WILL

47. Yule Duel

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.

Yule Duel Carolling for a Cause
December 7, 2017
Water St in Gastown

48. Now That’s Ugly – Ugly Christmas Sweater Party

One 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 Make A Wish Foundation of Canada (B.C. and Yukon), who grant wishes for children with a life threatening illness. With each dollar raised, you support giving hope and happy memories to children, their families and their communities.

Ugly Christmas Sweater Party 2017
December 23, 2017
Commodore Ballroom (868 Granville St)

49. St. Paul’s Lights of Hope Fundraiser

One of the best parts about driving through downtown during the season! Join St. Paul’s on November 16th for their community celebration and fundraiser, complete with fireworks, food and those iconic Holiday decorations.

St. Paul’s Lights of Hope Fundraiser
November 16, 2017
St. Paul’s Hospital (1081 Burrard St)

50. Hope in Shadows Calendar by Megaphone Magazine

The Hope in Shadows calendar is sold on the streets of Vancouver and Victoria by Megaphone’s homeless and low-income vendors. Vendors buy each calendar for $10 and sell them for $20, keeping the profit. The calendar is made up of photos taken by our vendors in an annual photography contest. All photos are taken on single-use disposable film cameras. 2017’s contest theme is “Heart and Soul.”