25 free things to do this winter in Vancouver

Dec 14 2018, 6:44 am

Enjoy a winter wonderland without breaking the bank! Here are 25 free things to do in Vancouver this season, from Christmas events to Lunar New Year and more!

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

Christmas Events and Holiday Lights

Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum

What: Stroll through the streets of Burnaby Village Museum to see wreaths, cedar swags and vintage-themed displays. At the bandstand, visitors can create their own magical holiday show with lights that change colours to sound. Special entertainment is scheduled throughout the season including theatre performances, community choirs, street characters and musicians. Many family-favourite activities are back including craft for children, baking in the Farmhouse and visits with Father Christmas.

When: Now to Friday, January 4, 2019
Time: Various times
Where: Burnaby Village Museum – 6501 Deer Lake Ave Burnaby
Admission: Free, carousel rides $2.65

Heritage Christmas at Historic Stewart Farm

What: Taste fresh-baked festive treats, string popcorn and experience Christmas the Victorian way at Historic Stewart Farm. There will be a new craft to make each day of Heritage Christmas, plus check out the signature Christmas Open House on December 8 from 11 am to 3 pm, featuring live music and photos with Old Saint Nick.

When: Every weekend until Sunday, December 30, 2018
Time: 12 to 3 pm
Where: Historic Stewart Farm – 13723 Crescent Rd, Surrey
Admission: Free

Christmas at Canada Place 2018

What: Free Christmas attractions will be taking over the Canadian Trail, along the west promenade of Canada Place . This year’s festivities include giant light installations at the Canada North light display, the historic Woodward’s Windows, and the festive Avenue of Trees. Visitors will be able to enjoy the sounds of live Christmas performances along the west promenade of Canada Place from 12 to 2 pm on Saturdays and Sundays. For the whole of the Christmas celebrations, the iconic white sails of Canada Place will be illuminated with festive colours and designs.

When: Now to Thursday, January 3, 2019
 Time:  8 am to 11 pm. On December 31, Christmas at Canada Place will close at 6:00 pm
Where: The Canadian Trail, West Promenade – 999 Canada Pl, Vancouver
Admission: Free

Gingerbread Lane at Hyatt Regency Vancouver

What: The annual Gingerbread Lane has taken over the lobby of the Hyatt Regency. This year’s display features more than 30 gingerbread creations designed by secondary schools, professionals, and amateur culinary artists. As well as providing a welcome dose of holiday feels, the event also helps to raise money for local charities with more than $80,000 secured to date.

When: Now to Saturday, December 29, 2018
Where: Hyatt Regency Vancouver, 655 Burrard Street
Admission: Free

Dundarave Festival of Lights

dundarave

Dundarave Festival of Light/ John Martin

What: Fabulously festive and absolutely free, the Dundarave Christmas Fair kicks off their 10th anniversary in 2018, featuring four Saturdays of free concerts in the Festival Longhouse on Dundarave Beach. Claim a tree in the Forest of Miracles and enjoy one of the most spirited decorating parties anywhere.

When: Now to Saturday, December 22, 2018
Time: Various times
Where: Dundarave Park, West Vancouver
Admission: Free

Chalet Place Lights for Charity

What: A home up in the hills of North Vancouver has been lighting up with over 100,000 lights each Christmas for a few years, to raise donations for three good causes – the BC Epilepsy Society, Harvest Project, and Shriners Care For Kids. This is the final year of the display, so make sure to add it to your list.

When: Now to Sunday, January 6, 2018
Time: 5:30 pm to 11 pm
Where: 4967 Chalet Place, North Vancouver
Admission: By donation

Lights in the Park

What: The Town Square Park (located beside the Steveston Museum) will warm up the chilly winter evenings as it is illuminated with a beautiful light display.

When: Now to Monday, December 31, 2018
Time: Evenings
Where: Steveston Town Square Park – 3791 Moncton Street, Richmond
Admission: Free

Heritage Building Light Display

What: During this holiday season, Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site is lighting up their beautiful heritage buildings for all to see. Come down in the evenings and see the site all merry and bright.

When: Now to Monday, December 31, 2018
Time: Evenings
Where: Britannia Shipyards – 5180 Westwater Dr, Richmond
Admission: Free

Holiday Hi-Light Festival

What: This annual event features a majestic festival of illumination with more than 150,000 lights on display over three acres. Entry is by donation, with 100% of proceeds to the North Vancouver Firefighters Charitable Society.

When: Now to Monday, December 31, 2018
Time: 5 to 9 pm
Where: Park & Tilford Gardens – 333 Brooksbank Ave, North Vancouver
Admission: By donation

Lights on the Lake at Harrison Hot Springs

What: A Sasquatch-themed festival that hopes to share some of Harrison’s favourite ways to spend time outdoors. Light displays on the Harrison Lakefront will showcase the mythical creature hiking, biking, paddling, skiing, fishing, camping, and windsurfing. The celebration will also include a Christmas tree trail, Whoville-themed village, and cabin-style New Year’s celebration.

When: Now to Monday, January 28, 2019
Time: Various times
Where: Harrison Hot Springs
Admission: Free

Lights at Lafarge Lake

Lights at Lafarge

Lights at Lafarge (Ania Jedrzejewska / Instagram)

What: Lights at Lafarge Lake is one of the largest free light displays in Metro Vancouver, and features more than 100,000 twinkling lights. The outdoor display wraps its way entirely around the lake, leading visitors on a 1.2-km loop through 10 themed zones. The display is located just steps from SkyTrain’s Lafarge Lake-Douglas Station, and the lights will remain on from dusk each night until 11 pm.

When: Now to Sunday, January 20, 2019
Time: Dusk to 11 pm daily
Where: Town Centre Park – 1299 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam
Admission: Free

Celebrate New Year’s Eve

Concord’s New Year’s Eve Vancouver: Countdown to 2019

Concord New Year's Eve Vancouver nye

Fireworks at Concord New Year’s Eve Vancouver. (Vancouver New Year’s Eve Celebration Society)

What: One of the largest New Year’s Eve celebrations in Canada, the fireworks spectacle on the Coal Harbour waterfront in downtown Vancouver on this auspicious night sees an attendance of over 100,000 people. Returning for its fourth consecutive year, Concord’s New Year’s Eve Vancouver’s celebration is promising dazzling fireworks shows, a free outdoor street party at Jack Poole Plaza, and an extravagant premium indoor party held inside Vancouver Convention Centre West.

When: From 7 pm on Monday, December 31, 2018, to early morning on Tuesday, January 1, 2019

  • NYE Vancouver Street Party at Jack Poole Plaza: Starts at 7 pm
  • Concord Countdown Central Indoor Party at Vancouver Convention Centre West: Starts at 7 pm
  • Family Countdown Fireworks: 9 pm
  • Midnight Countdown Fireworks: 12 am

Where: Jack Poole Plaza, Vancouver Convention Centre West, and Jack Poole Plaza in downtown Vancouver
Tickets: Available now online

Robson Square Ice Rink 2018

What: The provincial government’s Robson Square Ice Rink is open for the 2018 and 2019 season. 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 for a fee. An on-site concession stand will also serve warm drinks and snacks. Robson Square Ice Rink is open until 11 pm on New Year’s Eve.

When: Now to February 28, 2019
Time: Sunday to Thursday from 9 am to 9 pm; Friday and Saturday from 9 am to 11 pm. Holiday hours vary – Robson Square Ice Rink is open until 11 pm on New Year’s Eve.
Where: 800 Robson Street, Vancouver (Robson Street and Howe Street)
Cost: Free for all ages, if you bring your own skates (Skate rentals are $5, 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

Happy Lunar New Year

Aberdeen Centre’s Chinese New Year Flower & Gift Fair

What: The hallways of Aberdeen Centre will be transformed into a Chinese New Year Flower & Gift Fair, featuring vendors selling including gifts, decorations, fresh flowers, crafts, food, home goods and more. Your one-stop-shop for all Chinese New Year essentials.

When: Wednesday, January 30 to Tuesday, February 5, 2018
Time: 11 am to 7 pm
Where: Aberdeen Centre – 4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond
Admission: Free

Yaohan Centre Chinese New Year Celebration

What: The hallways of Aberdeen Centre will be transformed into a Chinese New Year Flower & Gift Fair, featuring vendors selling including gifts, decorations, fresh flowers, crafts, food, home goods and more. Your one-stop-shop for all Chinese New Year essentials.

When: Tuesday, February 5, 2018
Time: 1 to 2 pm
Where: Yaohan Centre – 3700 No 3 Rd, Richmond
Admission: Free

Chinese New Year Celebration at International Village Mall

What: International Village Mall’s celebration will bring traditional Chinese Spring festivities and rituals to the community of Vancouver, with exhibition and sales booths on both the Main and Upper Mall Levels. Come out for Chinese New Year festive items, souvenirs, culinary delights, giftware, multicultural live performances on stage, a lucky draw and more. This three-day event includes an opening celebration with a ceremonial lion dance.

When: Friday, February 8 to Sunday, February 10, 2018
Time: Various times
Where: International Village Mall – 88 W Pender St, Vancouver
Admission: Free

LunarFest Celebrations

week

Christophe Testi / Shutterstock

What: Start our Lunar New Year celebration with a “gong” and take a money bath. LunarFest brings cultures and traditions outdoor in downtown Vancouver. Win a prize in the Universe of Piggy Banks and learn about cultures and currencies around the world. Be sure to meet the Pig Heroes, DIY a lantern and take home lots of crafts. Presented by TELUS.

When: Saturday, February 9 to Sunday, February 10, 2018
Time: Various times
Where: Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza – 750 Hornby St, Vancouver
Admission: Free

Chinese New Year Cultural Showcase

What: Colourful dance shows and Chinese Orchestra performance featuring hundreds of spectacular talents from the Vancouver Academy of Dance, Colors of Dance Academy, BC Chinese Music Association, and more.

When: Saturday, February 9, 2018
Time: 1 to 4 pm
Where: Aberdeen Centre – 4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond
Admission: Free

Explore the city

SAP Networking Event & Live Performance by KT Tunstall

KT Tunstall/Facebook

What: Multinational software company SAP will be hosting a free exclusive networking event in Vancouver for those who are interested in connecting and networking with various diverse members of the SAP community from all over the world. Those attending the event will be able to speak about the opportunities with hiring managers and senior leaders within the company, as well as get an insight into a leading global organisation’s company culture. Additionally, SAP has invited award-winning Scottish singer-songwriter KT Tunstall to perform live at the event, bringing her unique brand of alternative rock to Vancouver.

When: Monday, January 7, 2019
Time: 7 pm
Where: Commodore Ballroom — 868 Granville Street
Price: FREE — Register here to RSVP

Women’s Personal Safety Workshops 2019

What: Women looking to learn more about self-defence are invited to join the Vancouver Police Department (VPD) for women’s personal safety workshops this winter. Participants will be able to learn easy self-defence tactics, and no prior training is required. The safety team encourages skills that involve “effective” self-defence.

The workshop is hosted by the VPD’s Women’s Personal Safety team and will take place on January 11 and February 7, 2019. The VPD says the workshop is open to all women, but the minimum age to sign-up is 16-years old. Anyone under 18 must come with a parent to sign a waiver. More information is available online.

When: Friday, January 11 and Thursday, February 7, 2019
Where:

  • January 11 from 6:15 to 8:15 pm:  Coal Harbour Community Centre — 480 Broughton Street, Vancouver
  • February 7 from 6 to 8 pm:  St. George’s School — 4175 West 29th Avenue, Vancouver

Registration: 

Price: Free

Kit And Ace Metrotown Pop-Up Shop

What: Kit and Ace has opened a pop-up shop at Metropolis at Metrotown to celebrate the holiday season, and this is the first-ever time the brand has had a physical presence in Burnaby. Visitors to the pop-up will have the chance to win a head-to-toe Kit and Ace look featuring both the Navigator and Brushed French Terry fabrics. Look for the mannequins wearing these looks and leave your email address to be entered to win. Two winners will be selected at the end of each month. Shop the latest products at the Kit and Ace pop-up in Burnaby or at the brand’s other locations in Vancouver. This includes the flagship store at 165 Water Street and the West 4th Avenue location in Kitsilano.

When: Open now through Thursday, January 31, 2019
Time: Regular mall hours
Where: Level 1 through Entrance 4 on the left, Metropolis at Metrotown – 4700 Kingsway, Burnaby
Price: Free admission

Eat fresh with farmers’ markets

Riley Park and Nat Bailey Stadium Farmers’ Market

What: Each week you can look forward to finding locally grown vegetables and fruit, meat and seafood from local ranchers and fishermen, artisan cheese and bread, herbs and seasonal nursery items, baked goods, prepared foods and artisanal crafts.

When: Every Saturday to April 27, 2019 (except December 30)
Time: 10 am to 2 pm
Where: Riley Park Plaza – 50E. 30th Ave., Vancouver, Nat Bailey Stadium – 4601 Ontario Street, Vancouver
Admission: Free

Hastings Park Farmers’ Market

What: Find a great selection of local produce, fish, meat, dairy, artisan prepared foods, baked goods, local crafts, craft alcohol producers, and food trucks. There is free parking for market shoppers at Gate 2 off of Renfrew St.

When: Every Sunday to April 28 (except December 30)
Time: 10 am to 2 pm
Where: Hastings Park Centregrounds – 2901 East Hastings Street
Admission: Free

Port Moody Winter Farmers Market

What: Established in 2008, the Port Moody Winter Farmers Market began as a bi-weekly market in the lobby and courtyard of the Port Moody Rec Centre. Now a weekly market, shoppers can stop by every Sunday for local BC produce, artisan crafts, and delicious baked goods.

When: Every Sunday to April 28, 2019
Time: 10 am to 2 pm
Where: Port Moody Recreation Complex – 300 Ioco Rd, Port Moody
Admission: Free

Cannery Farmers’ Market

What: The Cannery Farmers’ Market is Steveston’s indoor winter market, held at the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site. This unique market features local food and artisan merchants, inside a historic cannery setting. Admission to the museum is free on market days, with guided heritage tours by donation.

When: Various dates from Sunday, October 21, 2018, to Sunday, April 28, 2019 
Time: 
10 am to 3 pm
Where:
 Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site – 12138 Fourth Avenue, Richmond
Admission:
 Free

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