35 free things to do in Vancouver in January

Jan 1 2017, 9:24 am

Is saving money one of your New Year’s resolutions?

We have got you covered. You definitely do not need to break the bank to have fun in the city. Here are 35 free things to do in Vancouver this January.

For more things happening around town, check out our events section.

See also

Food and Drink

Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival 

Hot chocolate/Shutterstock

  • What: Now in its seventh year, the annual Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival will make its sweet return to cups all over the city in January 2017. The month-long event finds cafes, sweet shops, and restaurants around Vancouver serving up special cocoa-y creations that hot chocolate lovers can enjoy and tick off their Festival must-do list.
  • Where: Participating locations TBA
  • When: January 17 to February 14, 2017
  • Cost: Free to attend… but bring some money to try the delectable drinks!

Free tastings

  • What: Ok, so it may not be an “event” in the traditional sense of the word but, it’s still certainly free. Many liquor stores do on-site sample tasting on select days, and provide people with the perfect opportunity to figure out what they really want. In fact the Everything Wine Store Everything Wine Store gives out free samples from 2 to 6 pm daily.

Puzzled Pint 

  • What: Love solving puzzles with friends while eating and drinking? Then the Puzzled Pint is for you!
  • Where: Location will be announced Friday, January 6. Check here for updates. 
  • When: Tuesday, January 10 (location and time TBA)
  • Cost: Free to attend… but bring some cash for some food and drink.

#openexperience Bug Protein- Tasting Menu 

  • What: Have you ever wondered about bug protein? Bugs are a more ecologically viable protein but they give us the heebie jeebies! Join Nicole Aleong, an amateur bug protein enthusiast! She’ll take you through a bug tasting menu experience and show you that maybe crickets aren’t such a scary snack!
  • Where: SFU Harbour Centre Campus- 515 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
  • When: Thursday, January 26, from 7 to 9 pm
  • Cost: Free with registration on Eventbrite


Enjoy Tuesdays at the Art Gallery

The Vancouver Art Gallery / Shutterstock

  • What: Make your Tuesdays a little more artsy, during the gallery’s ‘by donation’ night. But even if your pockets are empty, you can still check it out.
  • Where: Vancouver Art Gallery – 750 Hornby St. Vancouver
  • When: 5 pm to 9 pm, every Tuesday night.

Strong Female Character by Hot Art Wet City 

  • What: In this group exhibition, Strong Female Character, these 3 female artists look at feminine identity, both past and present, as defined within Western culture.
  • Where: Hot Art Wet City- 2206 Main Street, Vancouver
  • When: From January 12-28, various times, check website for details 
  • Cost: Free

Get Lucky: An Art Show 

  • What: In celebration of Chinese New Year and the Year of the Rooster 2017,  Vancouver artists are invited to create artwork on red pocket/lucky envelopes. Artists will have the freedom to use their media of choice, using red envelopes as the canvas.
  • Where: Fortune Sound Club- 147 East Pender Street, Vancouver
  • When: Sunday, January 29, from 12 to 4 pm
  • Cost: Free but a donation of $5 is recommended at the door

Vancouver Writers Fest Incite 2017 

Image: iStock/Close up on the hands of a young woman as she is writing in a small notepad at a wooden table

  • What: Incite is a free, bi-monthly reading series presented by the Vancouver Writers Fest and Vancouver Public Library.Did you resolve to read more poetry in 2017? Start the year off right with readings from four fine poets.
  • Where: CBC Studio 700 – 700 Hamilton Street, Vancouver
  • When: Wednesday, January 18, from 7:30 to 9 pm
  • Cost: Free, register online 

Odds and Ends

Stab Your Friends! Intro Night 

Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly‎/ Facebook

  • What: Want to get started at Valkyrie WMAA, but not sure where to begin? Intimidated by coming into a new space by yourself? Want to check out something new in a low-pressure environment? This free evening introductory session is a great way to see what we’re all about and make some new friends to stab things with!
  • Where: Valkyrie Western Martial Arts Assembly- 2603 Kingsway Street, Vancouver
  • When: Thursday, January 5 from 6 to 9 pm
  • Cost: Free. Register online, space is limited.

Puzzle party 

  • What: Fan of puzzles? This event is for you!
  • Where: Gordon Neighbourhood House – 1019 Broughton Street Vancouver
  • When: Sunday, January 15, from 10 am to 1:30 pm
  • Cost: Free

Sam’s Dance Free Open House- Hip Hop & Hustle 

© Lior + Lone / Stocksy

  • What: Learn how to pop, lock, and drop at this free dance hip hop open house.
  • Where: Carousel Theatre -1411 Cartwright Street, Vancouver
  • When: Saturday, January 7, from 7 to 10 pm
  • Cost: Free to register on Eventbrite

Chess Lessons for Advanced Players 

  • What: Learn how to advance your chess skills, to become a master at the game.
  • Where: Bonsor Recreation Complex- 6550 Bonsor Avenue, Burnaby
  • When: Sunday, January 15 from 4:40 to 6 pm
  • Cost: Free to register on Eventbrite 

Ninjutsu Sundays

  • What: Ninjitsu is the ancient art of the ninja shadow warriors of Japan. It is a unique method of moving and thinking which developed a system often referred to us the art of winning.
  • Where: Vital Health Medical Clinic Kitsilano – 1855 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver
  • When: Sunday mornings in January, from 10:30 am to noon.
  • Price: Register for free on Eventbrite

Qui Gong Saturdays 

  • What: Qi Gong is a gentle flowing movement class taught by master Hing Tse.
    This is a class that everyone can participate in from youngsters to seniors. Hing will show you how to move your body for greater flexibility, balance and well-being. Wear loose, comfortable clothing and flat shoes. All levels welcome.
  • Where: Vital Health Medical Clinic Kitsilano – 1855 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver
  • When: Saturday mornings in January, from 9 to 10 am
  • Price: Register for free on Eventbrite

Richmond Cuddle Party


  • What: Wanna socialize? Fill your cuddle Tank? Practice clear communication? Many find it a cheerful environment to meet others. In an atmosphere that’s nurturing and fun. And you decide with whom and how to cuddle. Including the option to not cuddle at all but socialize, relax.
  • Where: #307-6451 Minoru Blvd (buzz #7224), Richmond
  • When: Saturday, January 21 from 6 to 9 pm
  • Price: Free with registration on Eventbrite, donation recommended at the door

Creative Neighbours Salon 

  • What: Connect with community members and learn more about arts programs in the city
  • Where: MLA David Eby’s Community Office- 2909 West Broadway, Vancouver
  • When: Sunday January 22, from 6 to 9 pm
  • Cost: Free with registration on Eventbrite

Pipelines and Climate Change Policy: Where are We Now? 

Pipelines / Shutterstock

  • What: Over the past several months the Trudeau government has made some major choices about energy and environmental policy for Canada. This panel of UBC experts and community representatives assesses these decisions and discusses what’s next.
  • Where: Room 120 CK Choi Building – 1855 West Mall, Vancouver
  • When: Friday, January 6, from noon to 2 pm
  • Cost: Free with registration on Eventbrite

Family Storytime 

  • What: A program for parents and caregivers with young children. Songs, rhymes and stories are shared.Suitable for children of all stages and abilities to enjoy and learn together.
  • Where:  Dunbar Branch Library – 4515 Dunbar Street, Vancouver
  • When: Various dates and times throughout January, check website for details
  • Cost: Free

Lost Neighbourhood Walking Tour: Kawamuko

Kawamuko/ Eventbrite

  • What: Discover the lost vibrant Japanese-Canadian neighbourhood of Kawamuko in Vancouver on this walking tour.
  • Where:  305 West 4th Avenue, Vancouver
  • When: Monday, January 16, from 6 to 7 pm
  • Cost: Free with registration on Eventbrite 

Sass Class 

  • What: Get sassy at this free dance class hosted my Army of Sass.
  • Where:  12372 84 Avenue, Surrey
  • When: Sunday, January 8, from 12:30 to 1:30 pm
  • Cost: Free

No Pants Skytrain Ride

vancouver no pants skytrain ride

No Pants SkyTrain Ride/Shutterstock

  • What: The No Pants Skytrain Ride is an annual global event started by Improv Everywhere in New York in 2002. The mission is simple: you ride the Skytrain with no pants.
  • Where: Meet on the south side of the Commercial-Broadway SkyTrain Station by the ticket machines. From there, the group will divide. Full route coming soon.
    RSVP: On Facebook, participation is free, commemorative t-shirts are $20.
  • When: Sunday, January 8 at 2:30 pm

Willow Arch Work Party 

  • What: Come help with the annual willow harvest that creates the shaping of the lower arch canopy on the Means of Production Garden hillside.Participants may leave with a fistful of willow for their own projects and the rest is used in various community weaving events throughout the year. Bring a cup for tea and a snack to share.
  • Where: Means of Production garden- East 6th Avenue, Vancouver
  • When: Sunday, January 14, from 10 am to 2 pm. Workshop is outdoors, rain or shine.
  • Cost: Free with registration on Eventbrite 

Mindful Eating Workshop

vegan food


  • What: Learn how to change your food habits at this mindful eating workshop.
  • Where: Karma Teachers- 45 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
  • RSVP: On Facebook, participation is free, commemorative t-shirts are $20.
  • When: Wednesday, January 4 from 6:30 to 8 pm
  • Cost: $15-$20 is a suggested donation at the door but no one will be turned away for a lack of funds

Groundhog Day in Newton 

  • What: Join Lou Jack the Groundhog in the Newton Grove for a pajama party to celebrate an early Groundhogs Day! Complete with crafts, games and hot chocolate, the third annual Groundhog Day in Newton is sure to have something for everyone.
  • Where: Newton Recreation Centre- 13730 72 Avenue, Surrey
  • When: Saturday, January 28, from 10 am to noon
  • Cost: Free

QTBIPOC Gathering 

  • What: This is an event facilitated by and for QTBIPOC youth (Queer Trans Black Indigenous and People of Colour 25 and under). There will be multiple workshops designed specifically to support QTBIPOC youth in sharing their experience or knowledge around what safer spaces look like for youth who identifiy as both LGBTQ2S and Indigenous/Black/Person of Colour.
  • Where: Britannia Secondary School- 1001 Cotton Drive, Vancouver
  • When: Monday, January 30, from 9 am to 4 pm
  • Cost: Free with registration on Eventbrite 

Farmers Markets

Hastings Park

Farmers Market / Shutterstock

  • What: Find a great selection of local produce, fish, meat, dairy, artisan prepared foods, baked goods, local crafts, and food trucks.
  • Where: Hastings Park Centregrounds – 2901 E Hastings Street, Vancouver
  • When: Sundays from 10 am to 2 pm, January 8 to April 30

Nat Bailey Stadium

  • What: Find local produce, meat, seafood, artisan cheese, bread, herbs, baked goods, artisanal crafts, and more.
  • Where: Nat Bailey Stadium – 4601 Ontario Street, Vancouver
  • When: Saturdays from 10 am to 2 pm, January 7 to April 22

Chinese New Year

2017 Chinese New Year Parade 

chinese new year parade vancouver (Image: Sergei Bachlakov / Shutterstock)

  • What: Vancouver’s Chinese New Year’s celebration isn’t something to be missed, and the free, annual parade is one of the celebrations biggest draws. In 2017, the Year of the Rooster begins on January 28.
  • Where: The parade route begins at the Millenium Gate on Pender Street between Shanghai Alley and Taylor Street). See map here. 
  • When: Sunday, January 29 at 11 am
  • Cost: Free

Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival- Cultural Fair 

  • What: This festive fair will feature multicultural performances, special lion dance grand finale, martial arts demonstration and more.
  • Where: Sun Yat-Sen Plaza- 50 East Pender Street, Vancouver
  • When: Saturday, January 28, from 1 to 4 pm and Sunday, January 29, from 2 to 4 pm
  • Cost: Free

 Winter fun

Chalet Place, North Vancouver Light Display

North Vancouver house on Chalet Place with Christmas lights (Michael Iwasaka)

North Vancouver house on Chalet Place with Christmas lights (Michael Iwasaka)

  • What: A home up in the high hills of North Vancouver has been lighting up with over 100,000 lights each Christmas for a few years, all in a good cause. The homeowners welcome visitors but encourage a donation to the Harvest Project in return.
  • Where: 4967 Chalet Place, North Vancouver
    When:  Monday, November 28 to Friday, January 6, 2017

Trinity Street

  • What: For well over a decade, homeowners on Trinity Street (between the 2400 and 2900 blocks) in East Vancouver are known for going all out during the holidays. While there might not be an actual festival happening, be sure to pass by the neighbourhood and take in the lights.
  • Where: Trinity Street, Vancouver (between Slocan and Renfrew)
  • When: Throughout winter

Tubing or tobogganing

Snow tubing (Image: Syda Productions/Shutterstock)

  • What: When there’s snow on the ground, There are numerous areas around Metro Vancouver to try your hand at snow tubing and tobogganing on our local mountains.
  • Where: Various locations
  • When: Throughout winter months as conditions allow.




  • What: Whether you’re a regular or a beginner, snowshoeing is a fun and easy way to get outside in the winter, see some marvellous scenery, and have some exercise.
  • Where: Various locations.
  • When: Throughout winter months as conditions allow.

Lights at Lafarge Lake

Photo by: Ania Jedrzejewska / Instagram

  • What: See more than 100,000 twinkling lights light up Coquitlam’s Lafarge Lake, in a magical, free, outdoor display for visitors of all ages.
  • When: Town Centre Park – 1299 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam
  • When: Nightly from dusk to 11 pm, until January 22

Robson Square Skating Rink

Image: beccafeng/ Instagram

  • What: The Robson Square Ice Rink, located in downtown Vancouver, is open all through the Christmas Holidays, including Christmas Day and New Year’s Day. Skating is free with your own skates, otherwise, rentals are available. The rink also features a concession stand with snacks and warm drinks.
  • Where: Robson Square – 800 Robson Square, Vancouver
  • When: The rink is open daily from 9 am to 9 pm Sunday to Thursday, and from 9 am to 11 pm Fridays and Saturdays, until February 14.


DH Vancouver StaffDH Vancouver Staff

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