44 free things to do in Vancouver in December

Nov 25 2016, 2:19 am

With December in sight, the year is almost over.

Take some time for both yourself and your loved ones to check out some of the 44 free events taking place in Vancouver this December.

See also

Food and Drink

Food gift/Shutterstock

Food gift/Shutterstock

Holiday Cookie Swap at the Hastings Park Farmers’ Market

  • What: A great holiday season includes cookies! So, we’re holding a cookie swap at the Hastings Park Farmers Market at the PNE Fair Grounds.
  • Where: Hastings Park Farmers Market at the PNE – 2901 East Hastings Street, Vancouver
  • When: Sunday, December 18, from 11 am to 12:30 pm
  • Cost: Free to register on Eventbrite



  • What: “ART is HERE: Reshaping Identities” is an art exhibition hosting local artists from all ages and backgrounds. The theme is all about inclusion and diversity.
  • Where: The Hive Vancouver – 128 West Hastings Street, Vancouver
  • When: Thursday, December 1, from 6 to 9 pm
  • Cost: Free

Sell Out featuring iHeart

  • What: Sell Out features a fun and twisted collection of new and old works by the mysterious Vancouver street artist, iHeart. As a work sells, a new piece will replace it, leaving you wondering what will be next.
  • Where: Hot Art Wet City – 2206 Main Street, Vancouver
  • When: From December 1 to December 17, from 12 to 5 pm daily
  • Admission: Free

Make+Shift Art Show

  • What: This Makeshift Spaces art show will feature local artists displaying a collection of works that celebrate their evolution as an artist.
  • Where: Makeshift Spaces – 89 Smithe Street, Vancouver
  • When: December 7 to December 11, From 10 am to 4 pm daily
  • Admission: Free


Christmas shopping

Gift shopping/Shutterstock

Wesbrook Community Craft and Artistry Fair

  • What: Dedicated to promoting creative expression and encouraging the success of local artists, we are throwing an exciting Craft & Artistry Fair! This December, thousands of people will come together to celebrate the world of arts and crafts.
  • Where: Wesbrook Community Centre – 3335 Webber Lane, Vancouver
  • When: December 2 to December 4, from 6 to 10 pm on Friday and from 11 am to 5 pm on Saturday and Sunday
  • Cost: Admission is by donation

Sweet Bake Shop pop-up shop

  • What: Tessa Sam, Sweet Bake Shop’s owner, whose first baking book is due for release in 2018, will bring her signature aesthetic and sweets back to Vancouver for this fun two-day pop up.
  • Where: LYNNsteven – 225 Carrall Street, Vancouver
  • When: Saturday, December 10 and Sunday, December 11, From 10 am to 5 pm daily
  • Cost: Free to attend

Wesbrook Community Craft and Artistry Fair

  • What: Local artists and artisans from around BC will be selling items in knitting, soap, jewelry, baked goods & much more!
  • Where: Wesbrook Community Centre – 3335 Webber Lane, Vancouver
  • When: Saturday, December 3, from 10 am to 5 pm
  • Cost: Free to attend

Odds and Ends



Intro to tools: Plant Stand

  • What: Learn how to use a table saw, mitre saw, drill and other basic tools to build a plant stand! As per usual, this workshop is intended for woodworking beginners and will focus on safety around power tools.
  • Where: The Wood Shop – 251 Southern Street, Vancouver
  • When: Saturday, December 3, from 10 am to 12 pm
  • Cost: By donation on Eventbrite

Coffee with Wayne: Post Production – Image Editing, Software and Techniques

  • What: In this hour long workshop, Wayne will explain and demonstrate techniques to enhance your photos through a few of the most common image editing softwares available: Lightroom and Photoshop.
  • Where: Lens & Shutter – 2918 West Broadway, Vancouver
  • When: Saturday, December 3, from 11 am to 12:30 pm
  • Cost: Free to register on Eventbrite



  • What: Lighting up Vancouver’s iconic West End, Morton Park and Jim Deva Plaza will come alive with a series of light art installations, performances and community building initiatives.
  • Where: Various West End venues
  • When: December 3 to December 6
  • Cost: Free

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, December 4 to December 25, 10:30 am – 12 pm
  • Price: Register for free on Eventbrite

Groundswell SocialS

  • What: Groundswell SocialS is a weekly gathering featuring local folk (including entrepreneurs, leaders, activists, professionals, & other inspiring people), who are making on-the-ground, real positive change and are eager to share their experience and knowledge with the greater community.
  • When: Tuesday, December 6, 13, and 20, from 5 to 8 pm
  • Where: Groundswell Cafe & Learning Space – 566 Powell Street, Vancouver
  • Price: Free with RSVP on Eventbrite

Coping with holiday stress

  • What: Join Homewood Health where their clinicians will discuss some of the various emotional challenges associated with the holiday season, paying special mind to some of the unhealthy impacts of the holiday season can have on our mental well-being.
  • Where: The Homewood Clinic – 6th Floor of 575 West 8th Avenue, Vancouver
  • When: Thursday, December 15, from 6:30 to 7:30 pm
  • Cost: Free with registration on Eventbrite

Sacred Energy of Chi Kung

  • What: Learn more about spiritual Chi Kung, an approach to practice which results in the “Chi Kung state”: a focused awareness of existing fully in the present moment.
  • Where: Ontogony Evolution Centre – 2667 West Broadway, Vancouver
  • When: Wednesday, December 7, from 6:30 to 9 pm
  • Cost: Free with registration on Eventbrite

Hour of Code: Minecraft

  • What: In partnership with Microsoft Vancouver, Kids Code Jeunesse is offering a free Hour of Code workshop featuring a Minecraft lesson plan from Code.org for kids 8 to 12 years old.
  • Where: Microsoft Vancouver – 7th Floor of 725 Granville Street, Vancouver
  • When: Saturday, December 10, from 1 to 2:30 pm
  • Cost: Free with registration on Eventbrite


tree xmas

Karen Grigoryan/Shutterstock


St. Paul’s Hospital Lights of Hope

  • What: A longstanding annual tradition at St. Paul’s Hospital is back: 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: Light display is up throughout December.

Bright Nights at Stanley Park

  • 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
  • When: November 28 to January 1, 2017
  • Price: Entry by donation

Holiday Hi-Light Festival

  • What: More than 50,000 Christmas lights + Family Night with Santa, hot chocolate, face painting and more, supporting North Vancouver Firefighters.
  • Where: Park & Tilford Gardens, North Vancouver
  • When: Friday, November 27 to December 31, 2016

Dundarave Festival of Lights

  • What: A beloved West Vancouver tradition returns with the Dundarave Festival of Lights.
  • Where: Dundarave Park – 25th Street and Bellevue Avenue, West Vancouver
  • When: Every Saturday from November 26 until December 31 2016; noon to 6 pm
North Vancouver house with Christmas lights/Michael Iwasaka

North Vancouver house with Christmas lights/Michael Iwasaka

Chalet Place, North Vancouver Light Display

  • 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. On opening night, the lights will be viewable from 6:30 pm, on all other nights, the house will be illuminated from 5:30 pm.

Vancouver Christmas Tree at Robson Square

  • What: For the 10th year in a row, Vancouver’s official Christmas Tree has been lighting up the Christmas spirit, and this year the tree will be located at Robson Square.
  • When: Throughout December, tree lighting on December 2 at 5 pm
  • Where: Robson Square – 800 Robson Street, Vancouver

McArthurGlen Vancouver Sparkle Brighter

  • What: Along with one of Lower Mainland’s biggest trees, the centre is decked out in a variety of holiday decorations including 25,000 lights and more than 3,000 festive ornaments.
  • Where: McArthurGlen Designer Outlet Vancouver Airport –
    1000-7899 Templeton Station Road
  • When: Throughout December

mcarthurglen ChristmasTrinity 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

Christmas at Canada Place

  • What: Christmas at Canada Place returns for its 29th 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: December 16 to December 30, from noon to 6 pm daily; Woodward’s Windows on display from 9 am to 10 pm. Everything closed on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.

Winter Solstice Lantern Festival

  • What: Celebrate the beginning of Winter’s end at the 23rd 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.
  • Where: Various locations around Vancouver
  • When: Wednesday, December 21, 2016, 6 to 10 pm

Rogers Vancouver Santa Claus Parade 2016

  • What: The event has become a Vancouver tradition with hundreds of colourful floats and performances. With over 3,500 participants, the parade features bands, choirs, and community groups.
  • When: Sunday, December 4 at noon
  • Where: This year’s parade has a slightly different route. It will start at the same location – Georgia Street at Broughton, continue east along Georgia, turning south on Howe. It will now end on Howe and Smithe.

Santa Land at Metropolis at Metrotown

  • What: Santa Claus will be arriving at Metropolis at Metrotown straight from the North Pole, 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 18 until December 24
  • Cost: By donation (minimum $2 per photo)

Santa at Oakridge Mall

  • What: Santa Claus has arrived at Oakridge Mall, and even includes a special pet day. Give Santa your list, and if you’ve been good, you’ll get everything you’ve wished for.
  • Where: Oakridge Mall – 650 West 41st Avenue, Vancouver
  • When: Santa arrives November 19 until December 24. Click here for hours.
Santa Toronto


Park Royal Mall Santa

  • What: A jingle of bells and a clatter of hooves means Santa is coming to Park Royal. Join them until Christmas Eve to usher Santa into Park Royal South.
  • Where: Park Royal South – 2002 Park Royal South, West Vancouver
  • When: Santa arrives November 19 until December 24. Click here for hours.

Lansdowne Mall Santa

  • What: Santa comes to Lansdowne Centre with a special free holiday visit in their Holiday Court.
  • Where: Lansdowne Mall – 5300 No. 3 Road, Richmond
  • When: November 19 until December 24

Ice Skating at Robson Square

  • 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 until February 14, 2017; times vary
Christmas sweater / Shutterstock

Christmas sweater / Shutterstock

Yule Duel

  • What: Vancouver’s largest outdoor carolling competition returns to Gastown to kick off the holiday season, bringing together 20 of the city’s top choirs to sing their hearts out to raise money for May’s Place, which provides compassionate hospice care to vulnerable people in the Downtown Eastside.
  • Where: Along Water Street in Gastown
  • When: December 1 from 6 to 9 pm

Kensington Holiday Craft Fair

The 9th Annual Holiday Craft Fair at Kensington Community Centre will feature holiday gifts and stocking stuffers made by talented local artisans along with raffle and door prizes for attendees. This fair also offers free parking.

  • When: Saturday, December 3 from 10 am to 4 pm
  • Where: Kensington Community Centre – 5175 Dumfries Street, Vancouver
  • Price: Free admission.

TOQUE Fundraiser and Craft Fair

This annual craft fair is a fundraiser for Western Front. It features a variety of BC artists and artisans and attracts over 2,000 visitors each year. Proceeds from TOQUE support the art and music programs year-round at Western Front. Joining the impressive roaster of vendors in 2016 are the Capilano Tea House, Carrall St. Canvas Co., Nepheliad, Tony Dubroy, tuk + milo, and Wasted Effort. Drinks and a barbeque will take place on the opening night.

  • When: Friday, December 2 from 6 to 10 pm, Saturday, December 3 from 11 am to 5 pm, and Sunday, December 4 from 11 am to 5 pm
  • Where: Luxe Hall at Western Front – 303 East 8th Aveneue, Vancouver
  • Price: By donation
Toronto Holiday Markets

Christmas Market/Shutterstock

Kensington Holiday Craft Fair

The 9th Annual Holiday Craft Fair at Kensington Community Centre will feature holiday gifts and stocking stuffers made by talented local artisans along with raffle and door prizes for attendees. This fair also offers free parking.

  • When: Saturday, December 3 from 10 am to 4 pm
  • Where: Kensington Community Centre – 5175 Dumfries Street, Vancouver
  • Price: Free admission.

Coquitlam Christmas Farmers’ Market

The Coquitlam Christmas Farmers’ Market will have everything you need to make this holiday a special one. With a selection of artisan crafts, bakers confections, spice, wine, and vinegars, this is one market you wont want to miss if you’re in the area.

  • When: Sunday, December 10 from 9 am to 4 pm
  • Where: Poirier Sport & Leisure Complex – 633 Poirier Street, Coquitlam
  • Price: Free admission.

Friends of the VPL: Christmas Used Book Sale

  • What: Looking for a special gift for someone on your holiday shopping list? Find thousands of gently used children’s and adult books, DVDs, CDs and more – all at bargain prices. Everything is half-price on Saturday.
  • Where: Vancouver Public Library Central Branch – 350 West Georgia Street, Vancouver
  • When: December 1 to December 3, from 10 am to 5 pm daily
  • Cost: Free

Christmas Kick-Off at the Quay

  • What: Do you hear what I hear? It’s time to Kick Off the Holiday Season at the Lonsdale Quay Market.
  • Where: Lonsdale Quay Market – 123 Carrie Cates Court, North Vancouver
  • When: Thursday, December 1, from 5 to 7 pm
  • Cost: Free

Event/Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting

2016 Christmas Tree Lighting!

  • What: Back for its 10th year, the Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting will have four magnificent holiday trees, one of which is 50 feet tall, come alive with hope and light. This family-friendly event features live entertainment and music, free cookies and hot chocolate, local food trucks and fun activities for kids!
  • Where: Robson Square, Vancouver
  • When: Friday, December 2, from 5 to 7 pm
  • Price: Free

The World Vision Gift Catalogue presents: The Polar Express

  • What: This Tom Hanks film features Billy, a reluctant passenger on the ride of his life to the North Pole. His adventure pays off with a chance encounter with Santa.
  • Where: Gastown Neighbourhood, Vancouver
  • When: Thursday, December 1, 6 to 9 pm
  • Cost: Free

Gifts of Light – Christmas Concert

  • What: This is a highlight event of our year at Tenth Church as we go all out to celebrate the meaning of Christmas through music and various performing arts.
  • Where: Tenth Church – 11 West 10th Avenue, Vancouver
  • When: Saturday, December 10, from 3:30 to 5:15 pm
  • Cost: By donation with registration on Eventbrite
Toronto Christmas Tree


“Hark the Herald Angel” Children’s Christmas Musical

  • What: The Fraser Lands Church presents: “Hark the Herald Angel” Children’s Christmas Musical.
  • Where: Fraser Lands Church – 3330 Southeast Marine Drive, Vancouver
  • When: Sunday, December 11, from 7 to 8:30 pm
  • Cost: Free with registration on Eventbrite

Christmas Carols and Story Time with Elsa & Anna

  • What: They are back. Elsa and Anna return to Lonsdale Market for a Christmas inspired storytime and singalong.
  • Where: Lonsdale Quay Market – 123 Carrie Cates Court, North Vancouver
  • When: Sunday, December 18, from 10:30 to 11:30 am
  • Price: Free with online registration

New Years Eve

Image: Jenn Chan / New Year's Eve Vancouver

Image: Jenn Chan / New Year’s Eve Vancouver

Concord’s New Year’s Eve

  • What: A sweet, nostalgic, and hopeful celebration packed with fireworks and live music will return to Coal Harbour in downtown Vancouver on December 31, 2016 to ring in the New Year on the North American West Coast.
  • Where: Waterfront along Canada Place Way
  • When: Saturday, December 31, from 6:30 pm to 12:10 am
  • Cost: Free to $237.50 online
Vanessa TamVanessa Tam

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