December is one of the busiest months of the year for most, with the holidays keeping families and friends entertained with dozens of festive events throughout the month. Aside from Christmas and holiday festivities, there are numerous concerts, sporting events, markets and more coming to town in December.
Jump down below for your complete guide to what’s happening in Vancouver in December.
What: KOOZA is a return to the origins of Cirque du Soleil: It combines two circus traditions – acrobatic performance and the art of clowning. The show highlights the physical demands of human performance in all its splendor and fragility, presented in a colorful mélange that emphasizes bold slapstick humor.
Where: Concord Pacific Place – 88 Pacific Boulevard, Vancouver
When: Now until Sunday, December 27; various times
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: Grammy Award nominee and multi-platinum selling artist The Weeknd is coming to Vancouver this December. The stop is part of The Madness Fall Tour, promoting The Weeknd’s upcoming album “The Beauty Behind the Madness.”
Where: Rogers Arena – 800 Griffiths Way, Vancouver
What: Loved by filmmakers and film lovers alike, the Whistler Film Festival is a place where artists are celebrated, audiences are inspired and new ideas enter the cultural dialogue. The festival features 89 innovative and original films from around the world alongside opportunities to connect with the people who created them.
What: On December 3, Water Street will transform into a series of outdoor stages, hosting more than 20 choirs in Vancouver’s first street-carolling competition – Yule Duel. The event is inspired by Figgy Pudding, a renowned annual carolling competition and charitable fundraiser in Seattle. Yule Duel aims to raise $20,000 for May’s Place, a hospice in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside
What: The Vancouver Chamber Choir is putting on three fabulous Christmas concerts this season, beginning on December 4 with Christmas in the Orpheum, a collection of renaissance, baroque & carols. Next is A Dylan Thomas Christmas, followed by the ever-popular A Charlie Brown Christmas.
Where: The Orpheum – 601 Smithe Street, Vancouver & Shaughnessy Heights United Church – 1550 West 33rd Ave, Vancouver
When: Friday, December 4, December 18, and December 19; 8 p.m.
What: The Vancouver Bach Choir knows a thing or two about how to nail a Christmas carol. More than 400 singers will fill the stage to sing all the beloved Christmas classics during this afternoon concert, featuring the Children’s Chorus and Youth Choir.
What: The VSO plays its annual Traditional Christmas concert in neighbourhoods around Metro Vancouver, including the North Shore, Burnaby, Surrey, Delta, and Vancouver this holiday season. Experience the delight of Christmas music straight from the city’s most talented musicians.
Where: Various locations
When: Thursday, December 10 to Sunday, December 20; Nightly
What: “An Eastside musical set on Coast Salish Territories” – that’s what SFU Woodward’s Bah! Humbug! production is described as. Starring Jim Byrnes as Ebenezer Scrooge, the play will weave current issues of the Downtown Eastside into Charles Dicken’s classic A Christmas Carol. “A modern-day, sushi-loving Ebenezer Scrooge owns a pawn shop on Vancouver’s Hastings Street, where he is timing Bob Cratchit’s late arrival to work on his iPhone.”
Where: Fei & Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, Goldcorp Centre for the Arts – 149 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
When: Thursday, December 10 to 12 and Tuesday, December 15 to 19; 7:30 p.m., matinees at 2 p.m. on Saturdays
What: International pop icon and former Family Channel star Miley Cyrus will come to Vancouver in December as part of her sold out tour. Promoting her new album, Miley Cyrus & Her Dead Petz, the 22-year-old headline machine is hitting cities around the U.S., but will also stop in Vancouver for her only Canadian show.
Where: Queen Elizabeth Theatre – 649 Cambie Street, Vancouver
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: Now in its fourth year running as a two-day event, CONTACT 2015 returns to downtown Vancouver’s BC Place and will be headlined by Above & Beyond on Saturday, December 26 and Hardwell on Sunday, December 27, along with 16 other artists from across the electronic dance music spectrum.
Where: BC Place – 777 Pacific Boulevard, Vancouver
When: Saturday, December 26 and Sunday, December 27; 5 p.m. to midnight
What: Ballet BC presents Alberta Ballet’s annual production of The Nutcracker, a city-wide favourite and consistently ranked as one of the most quintessential Christmas traditions. Tchaikovsky’s beautiful music accompanies the classic story of Clara, live toy soldiers, dancing mice and more.
Where: Queen Elizabeth Theatre – 649 Cambie Street, Vancouver
When: Tuesday, December 29 to 31; 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m.
What: Now in its 9th year, this weekly market offers visitors locally-grown fruit and vege, meat, and seafood from local ranchers and fishermen, artisan cheese and bread, herbs and seasonal nursery items, baked goods, prepared foods and artisanal craft.
Where: Nat Bailey Stadium – 4601 Ontario Street
When: Saturdays, November 7 to April 23, 2016 (excluding December 26); 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
What: Open year-long, the Public Market at Granville Island is a favourite destination for locals and tourists alike. There are several produce vendors, along with local food and craft artisans, prepared foods, and much more to see and do.
What: The Vancouver Farmers’ Market gets in the Christmas spirit once a year at the Croatian Cultural Centre. Seasonal vegetables and other goodies will be available to purchase, along with other artisanal items and VFM gift cards and merchandise.
Where: Croatian Cultural Centre – 3250 Commercial Drive, Vancouver
What: Port Moody’s most festive 5 km run returns December 5, with the Ugly Christmas Sweater Dash. Don your most heinous holiday attire and take a jaunt around Port Moody, raising money for the Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.
Where: Rocky Point Park – 870 Washington Drive, Port Moody
What: A longstanding annual tradition at St. Paul’s Hospital returns in November: Over 100,000 light bulbs, spanning a length of more than 10 kilometres, will be turned on for the Christmas-time Lights of Hope charity campaign supporting the hospital’s initiatives.
Where: St. Paul’s Hospital – 1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver
When: Lights go on November 19 at 6:30 p.m.; display is up throughout November and December.
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: The Christmas Tree Lighting at Jack Poole plaza has become an annual holiday tradition for Vancouver families. Back for its ninth year, the Christmas tree lighting will take place on December 4, where four beautiful trees will be lit up with festive lights (one that’s over 50 feet tall).
Where: Jack Poole Plaza – 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver
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: Shop for beautiful and unique handmade goods at the Kensington Holiday Craft Fair. With a collection of over 50 vendors attendees are guaranteed to find a range of imaginative gifts and stocking stuffers.
Where: Kensington Community Centre, 5175 Dumfries Street
What: Vancouver’s largest indie craft fair returns for a holiday edition on December 12 and 13. Gathering a range of vendors focusing on handmade and handcrafted originals, Got Craft? features over 75 unique and local artisan designs, craft workshops, edible treats, entertainment, and more.
Where: The Pipe Shop Building at the Shipyards – 115 Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver
When: Saturday, December 12 and Sunday, December 13, 10 a.m. to 5p.m.
What: The third annual East Van H.A.M. will bring together over 50 local artists and vendors. Aimed at satisfying the most discriminating last-minute shopper, this craft market and community gathering boasts a curated selection of gifts and goods made by locals in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere, complete with live DJs and wintery refreshments.
What: The Shipyards Christmas Market will bring back many of the vendors patrons have come to know and love from the summer night markets, with a festive twist. Over 70 vendors will congregate on December 18 to 20 inside the historic Pipeshop at the foot of Lonsdale Avenue.
Where: Pipeshop building – 115 Victory Shipway, North Vancouver
When: Friday, December 18; 5 to 10 p.m., Saturday, December 19 and Sunday, December 20; 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
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: Every year, hundreds of floats, marching bands, and performers take to the streets in celebration of the holiday season. Organizations, businesses, and communities across Vancouver are represented, with a visit from the big man himself, Saint Nicholas. It will feature 3,500 participants and an estimated 300,000 spectators in downtown Vancouver.
Where: East down Georgia Street, starting at Broughton Street, then south on Howe Street to Davie Street
What: Vancouver Winter Wonderland Festival will be the largest indoor Christmas festival in Canada with 100 vendors, food and drinks, a three-storey walk-through snow globe and more inside the 35,000 sq. ft. PNE Forum. Guests will pay $5 to enter.
Where: PNE Forum – 2901 East Hastings Street, Vancouver
What: The premise is simple: dress up as Santa, meet in a specific location and go on a festive pub crawl with hundreds of other people dressed just like you. You don’t have to replicate Santa’s likeness exactly, but you need more than a Santa hat, and everything needs to be red.
Where: Top secret – check back to the Facebook page to learn where it’ll be.
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: 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: 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.
What: The Heritage Christmas event is full to the brim with traditional holiday trappings, with brilliant strings of lights lining every building, branch, and bough. Carollers, musicians, dancers, and more will entertain the crowds, and children and adults alike can take part in crafts, baking, theatre performances, and a visit with Santa himself. As always, the famous Burnaby Village Carousel will be offering rides on their authentic 18th Century merry-go-round.
Where: Burnaby Village Museum – 6501 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby
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: #SocialMediaYVR is a panel discussion with leading specialists from the industry’s top companies and thought leaders. Join expert panelists as they discuss social media and many of the tricks they’ve learned over the years that will help to build your brand; personal or for business.
Where: Brainstation YVR HQ – #410 1110 Hamilton Street, Vancouver
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: Vancouver’s first free New Year’s Eve celebration in more than 10 years is now offering premium viewing lounge tickets. The all-ages event, presented by the Vancouver New Year’s Eve Celebration Society, will kick off December 31 at 6 p.m. for everyone and at 8 p.m. at the CF Pacific Centre Lounge for VIP ticket holders.
Where: Canada Place – 999 Canada Place, Vancouver
Cost: Free. Premium tickets are available – Click here for more.