33 FREE things to do in Vancouver this December

Nov 25 2018, 4:17 pm

Enjoy December on a budget by checking out our list of fun free events happening in Vancouver. From Concord’s New Year’s Eve to Holiday Lights, here are 33 FREE events in the city this month.

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

Explore the city

In Conversation: Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir


Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir/Olympics.ca

What:  Join the most decorated figures skaters in the history of the sport, Tessa Virtue and Scott Moir as they discuss their new book, Tessa and Scott: Our Journey from Childhood Dream to Gold. Photo opportunity to follow. Individuals must purchase a copy of Tessa and Scott: Our Journey from Childhood Dream to Gold to get a wristband and then join the photo line

When: Thursday, December 6, 2018
Time: 7 to 8 pm
Where: Chapters Metrotown Metropolis – Metrotown 4700 Kingsway, Burnaby
Admission: Free

Friday Flicks: Home Alone

What: Join Burnaby Public Library for a screening of Home Alone. When eight-year-old Kevin McCallister’s family left for vacation, they forgot one minor detail: Kevin. Left on his own, Kevin must protect his home from two wily burglers.

When: Friday, December 7, 2018
Time: 6:30 to 8:15 pm
Where: Burnaby Public Library – Tommy Douglas Branch – 7311 Kingsway, Burnaby
Admission: Free

Reflections: A Celebration of Cultural Diversity

What: Place des Arts and the Coquitlam Heritage Society present a free, all-ages celebration of diversity. Reflections showcases how the city’s diverse cultural traditions and customs are entwined over the holiday season.

When: Sunday, December 9, 2018
Time: 2 to 5 pm
Where: Place des Arts – 1120 Brunette Avenue, Coquitlam
Admission: Free

Casual Birding Walk

What: Check out shorebirds, waterfowl, raptors and more on this 2.5 hour birdwatching amble. Bring binoculars. Presented by Boundary Bay Park Association, all ages.

When: Wednesday, December 12, 2018
Time: 9 am to 12 pm
Where: Bounday Bay Regional Park – Meet at Cammidge House
Admission: Free

English Bay Beach Cleanup & Christmas social

What: Join Surfrider for their last Beach Cleanup of 2018. Put on your best ugly Christmas Sweater (there will be a prize for the ugliest), invite a friend, and help preserve and protect English Bay. Reusable gloves, buckets and pickers will be provided. However, cleaners are invited to bring their own as there is a limited supply. Also wear closed toe shoes and bring your own reusable mug.

When: Saturday, December 15, 2018
Time: 11 am to 1 pm
Where: English Bay Beach – 1790 Beach Avenue (Meet at the seawall just north of Cactus Club Cafe), Vancouver
Register: Online, Free

Pop-Up Library: Hyde Creek Recreation Centre

What: The Terry Fox Library is popping up on Fridays at the Hyde Creek Recreation Centre. Borrow children’s books and DVDs, place holds and participate in a children’s storytime. Call in advance to have your holds brought to Hyde Creek for pick-up.

When: Friday, December 21, 2018
Time: 11 am to 12 pm
Where: Hyde Creek Recreation Centre – 1379 Laurier Ave, Port Coquitlam
Admission: Free

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

Concord New Year's Eve Vancouver NYE

Fireworks views from the Indoor Party 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

Holiday Markets and Christmas Events

Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum

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

Light Up the Heights 2018

What: With a focus on shopping locally for the holidays, the Heights Merchants Association hosts a sidewalk festival, with carolers, the Man in the Red Suit and his helpers, all while Heights merchants offer holiday specials all day long. Plus check out the Trees Lighting Ceremony at 4:30 p.m. at Burnaby Fire Hall No. 5 (4211 Hastings Street).

When: Saturday, December 1, 2018
Time: 12 to 5:30 pm
Where: Burnaby Heights Neighbourhood
Admission: Free

Kensington Holiday Craft Fair

The 11th annual Kensington Holiday Craft Fair features holiday gifts and stocking stuffers crafted by local artisans. In addition to free parking, the event hosts a raffle and door prizes for attendees.

When:  Sunday, December 1, 2018
Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Location:  Kensington Community Centre – 5175 Dumfries Street, Vancouver
Admission: Free of charge

Burnaby Christmas Craft Fair

The fifth annual Burnaby Christmas Craft Fair features local handmade items, live music, as well as a number of raffles and prizes. Proceeds from the event go towards the music program at Burnaby Central Secondary School.

When: Saturday, December 1 and Sunday, December 2, 2018
Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Location:  Burnaby Hall – 7837 Canada Way, Burnaby
Admission: Admission by donation

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 from Saturday, December 1 to Sunday, December 30, 2018
Time: 12 to 3 pm
Where: Historic Stewart Farm – 13723 Crescent Rd, Surrey
Admission: Free

Songs in the Snow

What: Gather friends and family to welcome the holiday season with the Songs in the Snow concert series in Steveston Museum’s Town Square Park. The series will showcase local professional and amateur performers. There will be vintage style crafts, refreshments and other activities offered.

When: Saturday, December 1, Saturday, December 8, and Saturday, December 15, 2018
Time: 4 to 6 pm
Where: Steveston Museum – 3811 Moncton St, Richmond
Admission: Free

Christmas Open House

What:  Drop in to the Nature House to enjoy crafts and complimentary refreshments or join a guided nature walk. Presented by Burnaby Lake Park Association, all ages.

When: Sunday, December 2, 2018
Time: 11 am to 2 pm. Drop in anytime
Where: Burnaby Lake Regional Park – Meet at Burnaby Lake Nature House, 4519 Piper Avenue, Burnaby
Admission: Free

2018 Christmas with the Horses

What: This free, family-friendly event features pony rides, crafts, barn tours, drill team, demos and more. BBQ and snacks available.

When: Sunday, December 2, 2018
Time: 10 am to 2 pm
Where: Burnaby Equestrian Center – 9080 Avalon Avenue, Burnaby
Admission: Free

Yule Duel Vancouver 2017 carolling competition

What: Hundreds of voices from Vancouver’s best choirs will again echo through the streets of Gastown on Thursday, December 6, 2018, during Yule Duel: BC’s largest outdoor carolling competition.

When: Thursday, December 6, 2018
Time: 6 to 9 pm
Where: Gastown
Admission: Free, but a $5 donation to May’s Place is suggested

3rd Annual Port Moody Christmas Craft Fair

What: Browse over 40 vendors and craft tables and you may find that perfect Christmas gift for that someone special. Enjoy handcrafted items, snacks, raffle prizes, and entertainment. Admission by donation with all proceeds to Share Family Services Society.

When: Saturday, December 8, 2018
Time: 10 am to 4 pm
Where: Port Moody Civic Centre – Galleria 100 Newport Drive, Port Moody
Admission: Free

Gingerbread Village 2018

Gingerbread house (Leena Robinson/Shutterstock)

What: The Downtown Surrey BIA’s 2nd annual Gingerbread Village is a charity event that raises money for the Surrey Christmas Bureau. The creations will be on display at Central City Shopping Centre from December 8 to 16 near the Winners and can be viewed during mall hours. Make a cash donation anytime during Gingerbread Village to vote for your favourite, and the creation that raises the most money will win. All donations raised will go toward the Surrey Christmas Bureau to help them support low-income families during the holidays.

When: Saturday, December 8 to Sunday, December 16, 2018
Time: Regular Mall Hours
Where: City Central Shopping Centre, 10153 King George Blvd, Surrey
Admission: Free

Carol Ships Parade of Lights

What: A shore-side celebration to see the Carol Ships sail by. Come to Barnet Marine Park and watch the flotilla of carol ships sail past. The ships are expected to sail by between 8 to 8:30 pm, times may vary depending on weather. Please come early to avoid missing the ships. Drink concession will be available, weather permitting from 6:30 to 9 pm.

When: Friday, December 14, 2018
Time: 6:30 to 9 pm
Where: Barnet Marine Park – 8181 Barnet Road, Burnaby
Admission: Free

Burnaby Firefighters Breakfast in Support of the Angel Toy Drive

What: The Burnaby Firefighters’ 7th Annual Pancake Breakfast in support of the Burnaby Christmas Bureau’s Angel Toy Drive and the CKNW Kid’s Fund. Bring a brand new toy or cash donation for a free pancake breakfast served by the Burnaby Firefighters, or take your breakfast to go. Plus enjoy performances by The West Coast Symphony, The Vancouver Fire Fighters Band Burnaby South Secondary School Bands (Grade 9, 10, 11, 12), and more.

When: Friday, December 14, 2018
Time: 6 to 10 am
Where: Hilton Vancouver Metrotown – Crystal Ballroom – 6083 McKay Avenue, Burnaby
RSVP: Online, Free

Fridays on Front Holiday Market

New West’s weekly summer night market Fridays on Front wrapped up in August, but the much-loved event is returning for a one-night holiday version this winter. On Friday, December 14, marketgoers can head to the festivities happening under the parkade on Front Street and enter for free to enjoy a selection of delicious local eats and drinks available for purchase.

When: Friday, December 14, 2018
Time: 4 to 9 pm
Where: Under the parkade on Front Street in New West
Price: Free entry

Very Vintage Christmas

What: Step back in time to a retro holiday party for the whole family. After you play old school games and make a vintage decoration, visit with Mr. and Mrs. Claus. Sip free hot chocolate as you bask at our huge textile themed Christmas tree. Then do a selfie scavenger hunt for a chance to win $100. Also, enjoy the various exhibits such as Dinosaurs Unearthed and the TD Explore Zone.

When: Saturday, December 15, 2018
Time: 1 to 4 pm
Where: Museum of Surrey – 17710 56a Ave, Surrey

Christmas Songs with the Cutie Circle

What: Spread some holiday cheer. Join the CUTIE circle and the library’s ukulele jam group as they sing and play Christmas carols. Everyone is welcome.

When: Saturday, December 15, 2018
Time: 1:30 to 3:30 pm
Where: Terry Fox Library – 2470 Mary Hill Road, Port Coquitlam
Admission: Free

Light & Dark: A Seasonal Arts Experience

What: Celebrate the season with an arts experience for the whole family. Enjoy interactive art activities, a labyrinth of light cause & effect, circus family entertainment and more.

When: Saturday, December 15, 2018
Time: 3 to 8 pm
Where: Shadbolt Centre for the Arts – 6450 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby
Admission: Free

CP Holiday Train BC 2018 


CP Holiday Train (jonathanjacobs_/Instagram)

What: The 20th edition of the Canadian Pacific Holiday Train brings holiday cheer to 164 communities and collect donations for local food banks. Each stop features live entertainment, music, and festive activities.

When: Monday, December 17 and Tuesday, December 18, 2018
Time: Various times, check schedule for details
Where: Maple Ridge — Across from Billy Miner Pub
Pitt Meadows  — Corner of Harris Road and Advent Road, at the railway crossing
Port Moody — Behind the Recreation Complex – 300 Ioco Road
Port Coquitlam — Port Coquitlam West Coast Express Station
Admission: Free. Bring non-perishable donations to support your local food bank

Christmas and Holiday Lights

Dundarave Festival of Lights


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: Saturday, December 1 to Saturday, December 22, 2018
Time: Various times
Where: Dundarave Park, West Vancouver
Admission: Free

Lights at Lafarge Lake

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

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: Opening night Saturday, December 1, 2018
Time: Evenings
Where: Britannia Shipyards – 5180 Westwater Dr, Richmond
Admission: Free

Lights on the Lake at Harrison Hot Springs

Harrison Hot Springs

Graham Osborne/Slap Communications

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

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 Centre grounds – 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

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