Christmas in Vancouver is the most wonderful time of year. If you’re spending the holidays in town, don’t miss out on Vancouver’s best Christmas events. Standouts include the Rogers Santa Claus Parade, the world’s tallest living Christmas tree and free ice skating at Robson Square. You’ll also want to make your season brighter with a visit to Vancouver’s shiniest Christmas light displays, including the dazzling Bright Nights at Stanley Park.
Without further ado, here’s your guide to Christmas in Vancouver 2013.
When: Sunday, December 1 , 2013
This free, one-day Christmas extravaganza evokes classic Christmas flick Miracle on 34th Street. An onslaught of red-and-green floats, marching bands, dance troupes, and community performers draw 300,000+ spectators to downtown Vancouver. Get in the spirit of giving by bringing a non-perishable food donation.
When: November 15, 2013 to February 28, 2014
Take a twirl on the only outdoor rink in downtown Vancouver. Perfect for date night or family night, the Robson Square Ice Rink is free if you BYOS (Bring Your Own Skates).
When: November 22 to December 24, 2013
Ja, bitte! A charming, old-world village in the heart of downtown Vancouver that’s bursting with Gemütlichkeit (German-style Christmas cheer). The evidence is in the menu: mulled wine, weissbier, stollen, marzipan, bratwursts and so many more tempting treats. Don’t forget to browse the Christmas crafts, admire the Tannenbaum, enjoy a live show, and decorate some gingerbread.
When: December 1 to December 31, 2013
This December, you can experience a traditional Canadian Christmas for FREE under one roof at Christmas at Canada Place! The festival is returning for its 26th year with more activities, entertainment, lights and decor than ever before.
Come to the the Cruise Ship Terminal at Canada Place for skating, curling, performances, the holiday train, Woodward’s Window displays and more! Santa Claus will also be making visits to his workshop on weekends.
Help Santa save Christmas this Holiday season at FlyOver Canada! Running until January 5, FlyOver Canada at Canada Place will feature a specially themed Christmas experience from the very moment you arrive to when you exit your flying ride seat. The attraction’s outdoor plaza also boasts festivities such as scheduled live entertainment, live ice carvings, waffles and hot chocolate.
When: November 30, 2013 to January 4, 2014
Gaze up at the mighty spectacle at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. The 46.4 m. (152 ft.) tall Douglas fir is adorned with luminescent bling. And so is the rest of the rainforest, including the suspension bridge.
When: November 23 to December 24, 2013
Set 15 minutes from downtown Vancouver on Grouse Mountain, Vancouver’s version of the North Pole, this is a one-stop-shop for ice skating, live reindeer, romantic sleigh rides, gingerbread house viewing, Christmas music concerts, the chance to meet Santa and so much more. Don’t forget to go skiing/snowboarding while you’re up there there.
When: December 11, 2013 to January 4, 2014
An over-the-top, truly magical wonderland of 1.4 million twinkling Christmas lights arranged by playful themes like Santa’s Workshop, Candy Cane Trees, Dancing Lights and Gingerbread Walks. An ideal event for date night. Refreshments including cocoa are available from the garden’s Truffles Cafe.
When: Friday, December 6, 2013
See the decadent, 50-ft. beacon of Christmas shining bright at Jack Poole Plaza anytime throughout December, but the must-attend event is the annual free Christmas tree lighting ceremony December 6. The festivities include caroling and sweet holiday treats.
When: December 6 to 23, 2013
A very Vancouver tradition, 50 ships decked out in sparkling lights parade along the Burrard Inlet while fans watch and celebrate the spectacle from on shore. You can view it from one of the boats. Or better yet, find a free bonfire parties for landlubbers in North Vancouver.
When: Friday, December 20, 2013
Don your ugliest Christmas sweater and join 1,000 other Vancouverites at the Commodore Ballroom for this raucous bash. Festivities include eggnog chugging, caroling, live music and an ugly sweater contest. Proceeds go to The Children’s Wish Foundation of Canada.
When: December 28 to 31, 2013
Alberta Ballet’s sugar-plum version of the traditional holiday classic The Nutcracker sparkles with festive holiday spirit. Choreographed by Edmund Stripe, with spectacular sets and costumes by Emmy Award-winning designer Zack Brown, The Nutcracker is set to the glorious Tchaikovsky score, played live by the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
When: December 12 to 22, 2013
This event is best for old-school, classic Christmas lovers. Enjoy heartwarming Christmas music and carols performed by the talented Vancouver Symphony Orchestra.
When: December 5, 2013 to January 5, 2014
During the holiday season the Stanley Park forest glitters with 2 million lights. Ride the Bright Nights Train to glimpse the bedazzled wilderness. Vancouver’s best asset shines brightest at Christmas.
When: December 11 to 30, 2013
What could be better than hopping onto a festively-decorated trolley equipped with a karaoke machine and yodeling Christmas carols into the Vancouver night as you view two of the city’s finest Christmas light displays? Seriously. Top that, Santa.
When: Through to December 20, 2013
Take a break from the cozy, heartwarming Christmas shows and enjoy a yuletide-themed improv fairytale by Vancouver’s impudent Vancouver Theatre Sports League at The Improve Centre on Granville Island. It will make you cry. But not in the It’s a Wonderful Life sort of way. These will be the kind of tears that follow uncontrollable laughter.
When: November 28, 2013 to January 22, 2014
Come in out of the cold and enjoy a unique experience of aquatic light that will lift any winter blues. Discover the incredible world of fluorescent and bioluminescent light that exists in the dark depths of the ocean. There’s even a tree decorated with lanterns that alight when an electric eel swimming in the water below discharges a pulse.
When: November 28, 2013 to January 22, 2014
Stroll through the streets of the Village to enjoy the traditional sights and sounds of Christmases past-wreaths, cedar swags and seasonal displays.
There are more shimmering lights to enjoy this year. Look for a welcoming new display just inside the Main Gate, the lighted stars and spheres on the Beech tree near Elworth House, an enchanted path between Elworth and the Bandstand, and much more!
Free gate admission, Carousel rides are only $2.21 each.
Image: Rogers Santa Claus Parade