5 holly jolly spots to see holiday lights in downtown Vancouver

Dec 14 2021, 12:40 am

The weather might be rather dreary, but the city is starting to feel like a winter wonderland.

Downtown Vancouver’s iconic holiday light displays are back, prompting friends, families, and loved ones to get together and into the holiday spirit. With bigger trees, brighter lights, and great causes, this year’s displays are an absolute must-see.

To ensure you maximize your time, we’ve curated a list of some of the best the city has to offer.

šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square (formerly known as North Plaza) Christmas Tree — 750 Hornby Street

Holiday lights display and Christmas tree at šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl'e7énḵ Square

šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énḵ Square Christmas Tree (John Lau/Daily Hive)

Vancouver’s official Christmas tree returns for its 15th year. Located at the North Plaza at the Vancouver Art Gallery, this gigantic, illuminated 80-foot-tall Christmas tree stands taller than the Rockefeller Tree in New York City. You can catch this big and bright display until January 4, 2022.

To make this location even more festive, there’s the Holiday Pop-Up on the Square organized by the Downtown Vancouver Business Improvement Association (DVBIA) on the weekend of December 11 and 12, and then again on December 18 and 19. Stop by to hear live music, sip hot chocolate, and shop gifts made by local vendors. 

On any of the activation days, if you bring a receipt to the CF Pacific Centre Guest Services (located next to LUSH) showing your same-day downtown purchase, you’ll get a voucher for a free hot chocolate, which can be redeemed between 11 am to 6 pm.

Bentall Centre Christmas Tree — 1055 Dunsmuir Street 

Holiday lights display at Bentall Centre

Bentall Centre Christmas Tree (John Lau/Daily Hive)

One of the most beloved holiday displays in the city is back with a 45-foot-tall tree and twinkling archway at Four Bentall and a 35-foot tree at Two Bentall — be sure to bring your camera to snap all the Instagrammable pics. 

This Bentall Centre tradition goes back 40 years, with the first holiday tree installed in the Four Bentall plaza on December 1, 1981, signalling the start of the festive season in downtown Vancouver. The display this season will be on until January 7, 2022.

Fleurs de Villes Noel Roaring Twenties Mannequin at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver — 900 West Georgia Street

A Roaring Twenties Mannequin at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver for Fleurs de Villes Noel 2021

Fleurs de Villes Noel Roaring Twenties Mannequin at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver (DVBIA)

Florists from around Vancouver are partnering up with local retailers and businesses to create festive floral art displays ranging from couture mannequins and beautifully adorned doorways to holiday wreaths and a truly show-stopping floral mountain. The overall art trail will decorate the streets of Vancouver from December 10 to 19, and this roaring twenties mannequin by Granville Island Florist can be found at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver (900 West Georgia Street). Did we mention it’s free?  

St. Paul’s Hospital Lights of Hope — 1081 Burrard Street

Holiday lights display at St. Paul's Hospital Lights of Hope

St. Paul’s Hospital Lights of Hope (John Lau/Daily Hive)

Lights of Hope is a holiday tradition that brings locals and tourists alike to St. Paul’s in downtown Vancouver to admire the festive display. According to the hospital, there are hundreds of volunteers who help decorate the exterior of the building using donated materials.

This must-see, annual activation (which uses 10 kilometres of lights) is not just to help people get into the holiday spirit, it’s a fundraiser that supports frontline workers at the hospital.

Canada Place Sails Display — 999 Canada Place

Holiday lights display at Canada Place

Canada Place Sails Display (John Lau/Daily Hive)

One of the city’s most iconic landmarks is officially lit up for the holidays. While visiting this festive display, you can also admire the Avenue of Christmas Trees and historic Woodard’s Windows. Once found in Woodward’s department store back in the ’60s, these handcrafted windows feature classic holiday scenes like Santa’s Workshop, The Candlestick Factory, and The Lamplighter.

For more information on these holly jolly spots or to learn more about DVBIA’s Holiday Pop-Up on the Square (750 Hornby Street), visit dtvan.ca or look out for updates on Instagram (@downtownvan).

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