13 FREE things to do in Vancouver this weekend

Dec 16 2017, 12:29 am

Christmas is right around the corner, and with it comes the cost of presents, taxis, road trips, and more.

Save yourself some cash heading into the holidays by treating yourself to something free (though no less fun) this weekend!

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Lights at Lafarge Winter Lights Display

  • What: More than 100,000 twinkling lights will illuminate Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam this holiday season, in a magical outdoor display for visitors of all ages. The Lights at Lafarge Winter Lights Display is one of the largest free outdoor light events in the Lower Mainland, and this year’s spectacle will be even bigger and brighter than ever before. The display will wrap its way entirely around Lafarge Lake, leading visitors on a 1.2-km loop through 10 themed zones. There will also be roving performers, hot chocolate, festive choirs, and even a holiday fair.
  • When: Now to January 21
  • Time: Dusk to 11 pm
  • Where: Town Centre Park – 1299 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam
  • Price: Free admission

Dundarave Festival of Lights 2017

  • What: The Dundarave Festival of Lights is back for another Christmas, offering four days of festive, free concerts, a Christmas fair, and a Forest of Miracles. The festival, which supports the Lookout Emergency Aid Society’s North Shore Shelter, begins on Saturday, December 2 on Dundarave Beach. You’ll be able to enjoy concerts in the Longhouse and the Nativity Pavilion for free, decorate the festival Christmas Tree, and shop at the Christmas Fair. Dusk will see the official lighting of the Festival’s Forest of Miracles, the largest outdoor display of Christmas trees in British Columbia.
  • When: Now to December 23
  • Time: Every Saturday afternoon
  • Where: Dundarave Beach – 25th Street at Bellevue Avenue, West Vancouver
  • Admission: Free

Christmas in Kerrisdale Festival

  • What: Each Saturday afternoon in December, residents and visitors can head down to Kerrisdale Village on West 41st Avenue between Larch St. and Maple St. to take part in the free festive activities. Brass bands, Santa, horse and carriage rides,  and roving carollers are all part of the cherished family event. In addition to the events taking place on the four Saturdays, free ice skating will also be offered at the neighbourhood arena from 5:30 to 7 pm. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.
  • When: December 16 and 23
  • Time: Noon to 4 pm
  • Where: Kerrisdale Village – West 41st Avenue between Larch and Maple Street
  • Price: Free

St. Paul’s Hospital Lights of Hope


St. Paul’s Lights of Hope (Spencer Finlay / Flickr)

  • What: A longstanding annual tradition at St. Paul’s Hospital is back: More than 100,000 light bulbs, spanning a length of more than 10 kilometres, have been turned on for the Christmas-time Lights of Hope charity campaign supporting the hospital.
  • When: Every night – from dusk until dawn – until January 8
  • Where: St. Paul’s Hospital – 1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver

Christmas at Canada Place

  • What: The 30th annual Christmas at Canada Place invites you to experience the nostalgic tradition of the Woodward’s Windows, a magical holiday lighting display, the Sails of Light, and the festive Avenue of Christmas Trees. Presented by the Port of Vancouver.
  • When: Now to December 31
  • Time: 8 am to 11 pm (closes at 6 pm on December 31)
  • Where: Canadian Trail (west promenade) and North Point, Canada Place
  • Admission: Free

Lumière YVR 2017


Lumiere Vancouver/Facebook

Heritage Christmas

  • What: ​Heritage Christmas with old-fashioned fun. Special entertainment is scheduled throughout the season including theatre performances, community choirs, street characters and musicians.
  • When: Now to January 5
  • Time: November 25 to December 15: Monday to Friday 1 to 5:30pm, Saturdays and Sundays 1 to 9 pm; December 16 to January 5: daily 1 to 9 pm (closed December 24 and 25)
  • Where: Burnaby Village Museum – 6501 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby
  • Admission: Free

5th Annual Christmas Tree Festival

  • What: Check out the Christmas Trees at the Port Coquitlam Museum and Archives and partner locations Leigh Square, Terry Fox Library, and City Hall. Take part in the Christmas Tree Festival Scavenger Hunt for more festive fun.
  • When: Now to December 31
  • Where: PoCo Heritage Museum and Archives – 150-2248 McAllister Ave Port Coquitlam
  • Price: Free

Steveston Festival of Trees 2017

  • What: The event allows merchants and community groups from the Steveston area to show off their creative talents by decorating their own Christmas trees, which will be on display inside the historic cannery for a friendly competition. Favourite designs are decided by votes, and the winners take a prize. The multi-day festival kicks off on December 1 at the Cannery Farmers’ Market, and runs right through until New Years Eve.
  • When: Now to December 31
  • Time: 10 am to 5 pm
  • Where: Cannery Farmers’ Market – 12138 Fourth Avenue, Richmond
  • Admission: Free

Vancouver Christmas Tree at Vancouver Art Gallery

vancouver christmas tree

Vancouver’s official 2017 Christmas Tree (Kenneth Chan / Daily Hive)

  • What: Vancouver has a new official Christmas Tree in the heart of the city centre, and it’s brighter and taller than ever.
  • When: Now to December 31
  • Where: West Georgia Plaza at the Vancouver Art Gallery
  • Price: Free

Kitsmas on West 4th

  • What: Everything is set to be merry and bright over in Kitsilano, too, as the West 4th Business Improvement Association (BIA) is hosting its annual Kitsmas event, on right now through to December 24. The highly-anticipated month-long event is designed to make holiday shopping a little easier, and more merry and decorative. Oh, and it even includes free valet parking on select dates! Seriously.
  • When: Now to December 24
  • Where: West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano, Vancouver
  • Price: Free. Parking by donation.

Robson Square Ice Rink 2017


the ice rink at Robson Square (@bilalsayed19/ Instagram)

  • What: As per tradition skating is free for all ages for those who bring their own skates. Those without skates can rent a pair on-site. A concession stand on the side will also serve warm drinks and snacks.
  • When: Now to February 28
  • Time: 9 am to 9 pm from Sunday to Thursday; 9 am to 11 pm on Friday and Saturday
  • Where: 800 Robson Street, Vancouver (Robson Street & Howe Street)
  • Cost: Free for all ages if you bring your own skates. Skate rentals are $4, and rentals end 30 minutes before closing time.
  • Note: Helmets are mandatory for children 12 years and under. Robson Square Ice Rink accepts cash only.

The CP Holiday Train comes to Metro Vancouver

christmas train

CP Holiday Train

  • What: The 19th edition of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train is traveling across Canada this holiday season and makes stops in Metro Vancouver this weekend.
  • When: Saturday, December 16 and Sunday, December 17
  • Where: 
    • December 16 – Pitt Meadows, Corner of Harris Road and Advent Road, at the railway crossing.
    • December 17 – Port Moody, 300 loco Road, behind Arena and Rec Centre
    • December 17 – Port Coquitlam West Coast Express Station
  • Times: Various times, check schedule for details
  • Price: Free! Bring non-perishable donations to support your local food bank
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