‘Twas the week of Christmas, when all through the town, shoppers were shopping, ’till the final countdown. The rain was falling, not a drop of snow to be found, but the city was buzzing with events all around.
The children were packed into the car nice and tight, while friends grabbed an Evo to head to Bright Nights. And Scrooges who shouted “No Fun City – It’s true!”, had only to read Vancity Buzz for some things to do.
What: Celebrate the beginning of Winter’s end at the 22nd Annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival. Taking place every year on the longest night, the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival brings communities together with a self-guided lantern tour, spread out over a series of blocks in various neighbourhoods in Vancouver.
What: The Arts Club’s production of A Christmas Story brings the classic film to life, along with a musical soundtrack. If you’re not already familiar with the plot, it’s about a young boy named Ralphie in the 1940s who sets his eye on the Official Red Ryder carbine-action BB gun as his must-have Christmas gift. Problem is, “it’ll shoot your eye out!”
Where: Stanley Industrial Alliance Stage – 2750 Granville Street, Vancouver
When: Now until December 27; evening and matinee productions
What: The Arts Club has been putting on It’s a Wonderful Life for so many years it has now become an annual Christmas tradition. “George Bailey performs countless good deeds for friends and townsfolk in Bedford Falls, yet all that seems to count for naught when he faces financial adversity. At George’s most woeful moment, his guardian angel, Clarence Odbody, swoops in to remind him that faith, hope, and family make life truly wonderful.” – The Arts Club
Where: Granville Island Stage – 1585 Johnston Street, Vancouver
When: Now until December 26; evening and matinee productions
What: The Goh Ballet presents their annual production of The Nutcracker for the seventh year in a row. The prestigious ballet is sure to entertain all ages, as the classicly whimsical tale has endured decades as a classic Christmas tradition.
Where: The Centre in Vancouver – 777 Homer Street, Vancouver
When: Thursday, December 17 to Tuesday, December 22; 7:30 p.m., matinees also available
What: Over three million dazzling lights decorate acres of the dark forest, reaching as high as the forest canopy for Bright Nights in Stanley Park. The attraction is also accompanied by a train ride, musics, snacks, entertainment, and even visits with Santa and his elves.
Where: Miniature railway area at Stanley Park, Vancouver
What: The suspension bridge, Treetops Adventure, Cliffwalk, the rainforest and canyon are transformed into a world of festive lights and visual enchantment. See the world’s tallest living Christmas tree (153 feet tall), experience the voice-activated light show, go on a scavenger hunt throughout the park, sing along with the holiday band, take a family photo at the Winter Pavilion, and more.
Where: Capilano Suspension Bridge – 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver
When: Friday, November 27 – Sunday, January 3, 2016; 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
What: Stroll with friends and family through interactive themed areas and enjoy the Dancing Lights show on Livingstone Lake, the gnome performance and the Vancouver Public Library’s Tales for a Winter’s Night. Have photos taken with Santa, savour holiday treats, and delight in much more.
Where: Vandusen Gardens – 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver
When: Tuesday, December 1 – Thursday, December 31; click here for hours.
What: Back once again at Queen Elizabeth Plaza, this bustling temporary alpine village will once again boast unique eats, handcrafted goods, and lots of fun for kids young and young-at-heart alike. The Vancouver Christmas Market will run from November 21 to December 24, and will have over 50 vendors selling gift-able treats from holiday ornaments to handmade toys.
Where: Queen Elizabeth Plaza, 650 Hamilton Street
When: November 21 to December 24, 2015, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. (11 a.m. to 6 p.m. on December 24)
What: Grouse Mountain becomes a holiday mecca during December for the Peak of Christmas, featuring Santa and his elves, live reindeer, sleigh rides, ice skating on the outdoor rink, all in the outdoor alpine beauty.
Where: Grouse Mountain – 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver
What: High up in the alpine range lies the Sea to Sky Gondola near Squamish, offering unparalleled views of snow-capped mountains. The Christmas festivities include snowshoeing, tubing, a forest walk, warm and cozy storytime and a brunch with Santa himself. There will also be a Christmas Market at the mountain base and local choirs singing holiday carols, including a special holiday concert.
Where: Sea to Sky Gondola – off Highway 99 just before Squamish
What: Christmas at Canada Place returns for its 28th year with exhibits and activities for the family along the Canadian Trail, the West Promenade of Canada Place. Christmas crafts, the Avenue of Christmas Trees, Rudolph’s Theatre and the historic Woodward’s Windows are all part of this free event.
Where: Canada Place – 999 Canada Place, Vancouver
When: Saturday, December 12 to December 30, closed December 24 & 25; noon to 6 p.m.
What: FlyOver Canada will transform into a magical winter wonderland this Christmas season. Guests will have fun helping Santa Claus search for his missing elves during an exhilarating flight across Canada and on to the North Pole. An extended holiday edition of FlyOver Canada that leads guests on to Santa’s workshop in the North Pole is also included.
Where: FlyOver Canada – 201 – 999 Canada Place, Vancouver
When: Friday, November 27 to January 5, 2016 – daily 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
What: Head out to VanDusen Garden’s Festival of Lights and Bright Nights at Stanley Park aboard the historical Vancouver Trolley Company’s fleet, all while singing Christmas carols along the way. Trolleys will be decked out with karaoke machines, but unfortunately no liquid courage to get the vocal chords ready.
Where: Trips depart from Canada Place – 999 Canada Place, Vancouver
What: The rink at Robson Square is operated seasonally by the provincial government when the temperatures begin to dip, running from morning into the late evening hours. Skaters can skate for free if they bring their own skates while those without skates can rent a pair on-site. There is also a concession stand serving snacks and warm drinks.
Where: 800 Robson Street, Vancouver (Robson & Howe)
When: December 1, 2015 until February 28, 2016; times vary
What: Scuba Claus is back in town for another underwater adventure at the Vancouver Aquarium. Scuba Claus will be making special trips to deliver gifts to the most deserving creatures in the sea while entertaining guests on the other side of the glass. Once that’s done, families can catch a showing of the Polar Express in 4-D.
Where: Vancouver Aquarium – 845 Avison Way, Vancouver
What: The sweetest lane in the city celebrates its 25th annual return to the lobby of Hyatt Regency Vancouver from December 4 through December 27. Executive Chef Jeff Szombaty and the engineering team are hard at work constructing this year’s stunning gingerbread house, built to serve as the centrepiece for more than 30 gingerbread creations designed by secondary schools, professionals and amateur culinary artists.
Where: Hyatt Regency – 655 Burrard Street, Vancouver
What: Beginning Friday, December 4, Bear Creek Park in North Surrey will run the Christmas train between 10 a.m. and 4 p.m. each day and host Santa Claus himself. Each person will receive a free candy cane, meet Santa and take a ride through the Christmas forest.
Where: Bear Creek Park – 13750 88th Avenue, Surrey
When: Friday, December 4 to January 3, 2016 – Santa will be there until December 24
What: Santa Claus will be arriving at Metropolis at Metrotown straight from the North Pole, moving into SantaLand on Friday, November 20th and staying until Christmas Eve. As always, children are encouraged to drop off their letters to Santa at Santa’s mailbox. Just make sure to include a return address and Santa might write back!New this year: Interact with our giant light curtain by choosing your favourite snowflake pattern!
Where: Metropolis at Metrotown – 4700 Kingsway, Burnaby
When: Santa arrives November 20 unti December 24. Click here for hours.