Winter isn’t Vancouver’s finest time of the year. It’s cold, dark, grey, rain mixed with a little bit of snow. That being said there is a lot of stuff happening in the city from now unti March. Here is our guide to Winter in Vancouver.
Christmas in Vancouver
Image: Peter So Photography
We’ve highlighted 24 things to do in Vancouver this Christmas. Some of which are below.
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
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. end time 4 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.
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
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.
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.
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. Some notable spots to check out:
- St. Paul’s Hospital
- Harbour Centre
- Canada Place
- Jack Poole Plaza
- Robson Square
- Sheraton Wall Centre
- Trinity Street Christmas Light Festival in East Vancouver
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
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: Nov
ember 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
- 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
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
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.
- When: December 5 to January 6
- Where: 201-999 Canada Place, Vancouver
- Tickets: at FlyOver Canada
Stay active even if it’s cold outside
Image by Mark Klotz
Take a dip at the annual Polar Bear Swim
Kick start 2015 on a cold note with thousands of other Vancouverites as they all take a dip in English Bay at the annual Polar Bear Swim on New Year’s Day.
Go for a Bike Ride
Yeah, we said it. Winters in Vancouver can have the odd warm week or two, so take advantage of any sunny weather by going on a bike ride. We’ve listed 10 amazing bike routes you can try.
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)
- 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
Hit the local ski hills or head up to Whistler
Rain in Vancouver means snow on the mountains. With plenty of ski hills to choose from why not take advantage of what Mother Nature has graced Vancouver with, moutains and plenty of them.
Hit the gym
It’s almost the new year after all, and in the winter everyone goes to the gym at least once before they fall back into their normal routine. The first week of January will be busy but it will be back to normal within a few days.
Go for a run
Even in the Winter months you’ll see the seawall full of runners. Why not join them and shed some of that holiday weight!
Badminton Vancouver opened their courts on Mitchell Island back in 2012. The state of the art facility offers 12 courts featuring Mondo badminton floor, which is the same supplies to the Olympic Games.
- Where: 13100 Mitchell Road, Richmond
- Phone: (604) 325-5128
Concerts, Parties and More
Check out Contact Music Festival
Blueprint, in partnership with Live Nation Canada, has announced the full artist line-up and details for the city’s most anticipated electronic music event of the year: CONTACT Winter Music Festival.
- Where: BC Place Stadium, Vancouver
- When: The December 26 and 27 event will be open to all ages, and will feature VIP areas for attendees who are 19 and older carrying ID. Doors open at 5 p.m. each day, with acts running until midnight.
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.
From Trap superstart R.L. Grime to Sir-Mix-Alot the winter season is a good one for the music fans in the city. From big to small we have covered them all. Check out our listings for more concert information.
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
Take in a dinner and a show at Stake Restaurant and the Hard Rock Casino Vancouver.
- Dec. 14th Comedy Night w/ Peter Kelamis, Kyle Bottom, Sunnee Dhaliwal Tickets Online
- Dec. 20th Naked & Everlast (Hard Rock’s 1-year anniversary party) Tickets Online
- Dec. 31st Party 2015 with Loverboy New Year’s Party & Dinner Tickets Online
- Feb. 24th Tom Cochrane with Red Rider Tickets Online
Food and Drinks
Girl drinking hot chocolate via shutterstock
20 of the best craft breweries + live music + photobooth + ugly sweater contest
- When: Dec. 5 at 6 p.m.
- Where: Studio East, 1480 Frances St.
Grab a hot chocolate at the annual Hot Chocolate Festival
Back again this year, the annual Hot Chocolate Festival celebrates the best in the city. Look for more information on the 2015 dates on Vancity Buzz when they are released.
Dine Out Vancouver
Dine Out Vancouver Festival is Canada’s largest annual dining celebration, attracting tens of thousands of local and visiting food enthusiasts to experience the city’s exceptionally diverse culinary scene at restaurants all over the city.
Enjoy Some of the finest street food at Street Food City 2015
- When: Wednesday, January 19 to January 25
- What: Part of the Dine Out Festival, this event brings together a wide variety of popular Vancouver Street Food carts in one location: the Vancouver Art Gallery’s North Plaza.
- Where: Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza
Vancouver Winter Farmers Market at Nat Bailey Stadium
- When: Saturdays through April 26
- What: Shop for fresh produce and more at Vancouver’s winter farmers market.
- Where: Nat Bailey Stadium, Vancouver
Celebrate Family Day with an evening out
Enjoy family day by taking your family to out to one of these family friendly restaurants.
Check out some of the city’s best eats
- When: February 23 – March 1
- What: multiple tasting events, wine seminars, and gala evenings to satisfy your
- Where: Various locations around Vancouver
Festivals, theatre and other things to do around town
Image: W.D. Worden
Chinese New Year Parade and Festival
Ring in the year of the ram in Chinatown.
- When: February 22, 2015 at 11 a.m.
- Where: Parade starts at Carrall and East Pender, travels through Chinatown and ends at Carrall and Keefer.
Take part in one of the world’s oldest traditions at this annual event that celebrates the return of the light after the year’s shortest day. Lantern displays, live music and events in five Vancouver neighbourhoods.
- Where: Locations in DTES, Yaletown, Granville Island, and Chinatown
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
The PuSh International Performing Arts Festival is one of Vancouver’s signature events. The festival expands on the horizons of Vancouver artists and audiences with work that is visionary, genre-bending, multi-disciplined, startling and original. The Festival showcases acclaimed international, Canadian and local artists and mixes them together with an alchemy that inspires audiences, rejuvenates artists, stimulates the industry and forges productive relationships around the globe.
- When: January 20 to February 8, 2015
- Where: Various Locations
An annual celebration of Jewish music, dance, theatre & comedy in venues across Vancouver
- When: February 19 to March 15, 2015
- Where: Various venues
We’re not just talking about Christmas here, but also those “legendary” boxing day sales and of course all the stuff that goes on sale in January that didn’t sell during the month of December.
Celebrate the holidays with your aquatic friends and experience a winter wonderland like no other!
- When: Ongoing until January 4
- Where: Vancouver Aquarium
The lunar new year festival returns with exhibitions, performances, a Lantern Palace, and the mini-food festival Dumpling Fest, the dumpling fest is only one tent, so don’t go thinking there will be many tents offering up dumpings.
- When: Friday, February 20 to 22
- Where: Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza
- Cost: Free
Winterruption Festival on Granville Island
The annual Winterruption Festival is an all-ages arts festival that includes theatre, live music, food, and local and international arts. The mix of free and ticketed events include kids’ theatre, art walks, open art studios, and live music from Coastal Jazz and Blues Society .
- When: February 20 – 21
- Where: Granville Island
The annual Talking Stick Festival is a celebration of Aboriginal performance and art, featuring music, dance, theatre, visual art and storytelling.
- When: February 17 to March 1, 2015
- Where: Various locations around Vancouver
Hop aboard the No Pants Skytrain ride
Every year hundreds of Vancouverites take off there pants and hop on the Skytrain. The look on unsuspecting peoples faces, priceless.
- When: January 11, 2015
- Where: Meet up point at Commercial and Broadway Station. Time has yet not been confirmed.
Gluten Free Expo & Non-GMO Show
- When: January 17-18, 2015, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Canada Place @ 999 Canada Place
- Advanced Online Tickets: $12, limited quantity. Tickets at the Door: $15 for adults, and free for accompanying children 10 years of age and under.
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
Imagine yourself in a world where reality collides with ideas in fascinating ways, where becoming a fantasy character is no longer only in stories, and where impossibles only exist to be made possible.
- When: Monday to Wednesdays: 4 to 10 p.m., Thursdays: 4 to 11 p.m. , Fridays and Weekends: 2 p.m. to midnight, Holidays: 2 p.m. to midnight
- Where: #140-6851 Elmbridge way, Richmond
- Phone: 604-655-4321
Make It Vancouver returns to the PNE Forum, bringing over 250 artists from all over Canada with them!
- When: December 4 to 7
Thursday and Friday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday, 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Sunday, 11 a.m. to 5 p.m.
- Where: PNE Forum – 2901 E Hastings, Vancouver
Shop the work of 20+ artists in the world of fashion, art and design.
- When: December 13 to 14
- Where: Heritage Hall, 3102 Main Street
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
- When: Saturday, December 20
- Times: Noon to 6 p.m.
- Where: Studio East – 1480 Frances Street, Vancouver
- When: December 7 and December 21
- Times: 11 a.m. to 4 p.m.
- Where: River District Centre, 8683 Kerr Street, Vancouver