43 FREE things to do in Vancouver this January

Dec 30 2019, 7:47 pm

Wallet feeling the pinch after the holidays? Keep the fun going without breaking the bank with these 43 FREE events around Vancouver this January. QS World MBA Tour, Lunar New Year, and more.

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

Explore the city and the great outdoors

Try Freestyle at Grouse Mountain

What: Confident skiers between the ages of 7 to 17 are invited to try freestyle skiing at Grouse Mountain on January 4 with a professional coach. Hosted by Freestyle Vancouver.

When: January 4, 2020
Time: 7:30 am to 2 pm
Where: Meet at base of Grouse Mountain, across from Starbucks
Admission: Free, register online

Robson Square Ice Rink

Robson Square

Robson Square

What: The provincial government’s Robson Square Ice Rink is open for the 2019/2020 season, and as per tradition, skating is free for all ages. Wedged under the covered outdoor plaza at Robson Square, the rink is operated seasonally by the government when temperatures begin to dip.

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.

When: Daily until February 29, 2020
Time: Sunday to Thursday from 9 am to 9 pm; Friday and Saturday from 9 am to 11 pm. Holiday hours vary
Where: 800 Robson Street, Vancouver (Robson Street and Howe Street)
Price: Free for all ages, if you bring your own skates. (Skate rentals are $5, and rentals end 30 minutes before closing time.) Robson Square Ice Rink accepts cash only. Helmets are mandatory for children 12 years and under.

Skate Plaza at The Shipyards

What: The Shipyards’ large, covered outdoor plaza has been converted into a free ice rink for the season. The rink will be open to skating seven days a week from 12 to 7 pm.

The skateable surface is approximately 20,000 sq. ft., including the floor area of the 12,000-sq-ft plaza and the adjacent 8,000-sq-ft summertime water spray area, both of which are covered by a retractable roof. Skaters can either bring their own skates or rent a pair of skates on-site for $7, although quantities are limited. Helmets and skating aids are free.

When: Daily until the end of season
Time: 12 to 7 pm
Where: The Shipyards Commons, North Vancouver
Admission: Free, skate rentals are available at a cost of $7 (quantities are limited)

Walk Richmond – King George Park

What: Go on a guided walk of King George Park, a 30-acre urban park in East Richmond, and discover the many amenities, including community gardens and a waterplay area. Attendees are invited to stop by the Richmond Public Library pop-up table afterwards to learn about library resources and free community classes.

When: January 4, 2020
Time: 10 to 11 am
Where: Meet at main entrance to Cambie Community Centre — 12800 Cambie Road, Richmond
Admission: Free

Sunday Night Movie Series at Bells and Whistles

What: Enjoy movies every Sunday night at Bells and Whistles. January screenings include The Hangover (January 5), Galaxy Quest (January 12), The Naked Gun (January 19) and This is Spinal Tap (January 26). Enjoy free popcorn.

When: January 5, January 12, January 19 and January 26, 2020
Time: 9 pm
Where: Bells and Whistles – 3296 Fraser Street, Vancouver
Admission: Free

Preparing for Job Interviews: A Free Career Workshop


What: WorkBC Centre and Port Moody Public Library teaches basic strategies on answering interview questions. A WorkBC Career Advisor will provide attendees the tools needed to structure answers and place skills at a higher level.

When: January 6, 2020
Time: 2 to 4 pm
Where: Port Moody Public Library – Parklane Room — 100 Newport Drive, Port Moody
Price: Free

Nature Work Parties

What: Help take care of Surrey’s unique urban forest in Hazelnut Meadows Community Park by removing invasive plants and litter. No experience is required and everyone is welcome to take part. Tools, training, and light refreshments will be provided.

When: January 11 and February 8, 2020
Time: 10 am to 12 pm
Where: Hazelnut Meadows Community Park – 14069 68 Avenue, Surrey
Admission: Free

Herring Sale for Autism

What: Autism Community Training is hosting an Herring for Autism Sale, sponsored by Oceanside Fisheries, to raise funds for ACT. Last year over 20,000 pounds of herring was sold.

When: January 11, 2020
Time: 8:30 am to 3:30 pm
Where: 7th Avenue Wharf – 3080 Moncton Street, Richmond
Admission: Free. Each 20lb (9kg) bag is $20 with all proceeds going to ACT.

In the BAG Family Sundays

What: Visit Burnaby Art Gallery for a different family-friendly art project at Family Sundays

When: January 12, 2020
Time: 1 to 4 pm, beginning on the hour and half-hour mark with the last at 3:30 pm
Where: Burnaby Art Gallery – 6344 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby
Admission: Free

Galleria Photography Exhibition: Visibility by Ya-Wei Lin

What: Visibility documents Ya-Wei Lin’s daily observation of the urban landscape. The ongoing series of observational photographic images reflect on and ponder the meaning of the word “visibility” in the broadest sense. The exhibition, in the works since 2016, showcases 11 images taken in the Greater Vancouver Area.

When: Monday to Friday from January 14 to March 2, 2020
Time: 9 am to 5 pm
Where: Richmond City Hall — 6911 No. 3 Road, Richmond,
Admission: Free

QS World MBA Tour Vancouver

What: QS World MBA Tour is a one-stop shop for anyone looking to pursue an MBA. Attendees will be able to meet in person with admissions directors from top business schools from local colleges as well as from around the world. They will also be able to get advice on their applications from industry experts, network with peers, and get resume and career guidance as well as a free professional headshot for their LinkedIn profile. Attendees are also eligible to apply for a pool of scholarships, worth up to $7 million USD, to help finance their MBAs.

When: January 16, 2020
Time: 4:30 to 9 pm
Where: Hyatt Regency Vancouver — 655 Burrard Street, Vancouver
Admission: Free

LunarFest 2020 Year of the Rat



What: LunarFest brings cultures and traditions together in a variety of events in January and February. Check out Lunarfest Visual Arts at Oakridge Centre from January 16 to February 10, and Coastal Lunar Lanterns at Jack Poole Plaza from January 18 to February 9. And then explore the Lunarfest Celebrations, with live performances, community booths, crafts and more, at Vancouver Art Gallery Plaza on January 25 and 26.

When: Various dates from January 16 until February 10, 2020
Time: Various times
Where: Various locations
Admission: Free

Street Food City 9

What: Now in its ninth year, the food truck extravaganza will take place on select dates from January 17 to February 6, where foodies can find a rotating selection of purveyors outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, in šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énk Square, on the north side of the building.

When: January 17, 18, 19, and 31, February 1 to 6, 2020
Time: 11 am to 3 pm on weekdays and 11 am to 5 pm on weekends
Where: šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énk Square (in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery), Vancouver
Admission: Free

Chinese New Year Market Place at Bodhi Meditation

What: Bodhi Meditation Vancouver hosts Chinese New Year Market Place on January 18 and 19. Featuring live performances, food and games, shopping, cultural activities, and more.

When: January 18 and 19, 2020
Time: 11 am to 4 pm
Where: Bodhi Meditation Vancouver — #140-7740 Alderbridge Way, Richmond
Admission: Free

North Surrey Sport & Ice Complex Grand Opening

What: Surrey’s Mayor and Council lead the grand opening of the city’s newest recreation facility. The afternoon includes free public skating with free skate and helmet rentals, skating demos, and live entertainment.

When: January 18, 2020
Time: 12 to 3 pm
Where: North Surrey Sport and Ice Complex — 10950 126a Street, Surrey
Admission: Free

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. There will also be a Golden Dragon and Lion Dance on January 25 at 11 am and 12:15 pm, hosted by Mayor Malcolm Brodie and three-level government officials.

When: January 18 until January 26, 2020
Time: 11 am to 7 pm
Where: Aberdeen Centre – 4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond
Admission: Free

Birding Walks in Surrey Parks

What: A local naturalist leads a birding walk through a Surrey park where you can see the various birds of the city.

Walks are drop-in and will happen rain or shine but may be cancelled due to high winds or extreme weather conditions. Wear appropriate footwear and clothing, and bring binoculars and a field guide if you have them. Binoculars will be available to borrow as well.

When: January 18, February 15, March 21, April 18, May 16, 2020
Time: 9 am to 11 am
Where: Various parks in Surrey
Admission: Free

Movie & Games Night at The Study

What: The Study Public House screens Ferris Bueller’s Day Off on the big screen on January 19. Attendees are also invited to play board games for free during the evening.

When: January 19, 2020
Time: Starting at 6:30 pm
Where: The Study Public House — 8888 University Drive, Burnaby
Admission: Free

Jazz Jam

Music mile

Jazz music horn ( Ezume Images / Shutterstock)

What: ​Cory Weeds hosts the Jazz Jam at Shadbolt Centre, with local jazz musicians performing an improvised evening of music. Attendees of all ages and abilities are welcome to bring their own instrument to jam.

When: January 21, 2020
Time: 6 to 9 pm
Where: Shadbolt Centre for the Arts – 6450 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby
Admission: Free

Ann Pearson at Richmond Public Library

What: Author Ann Pearson converses about her new book, A Promise on the Horizon, a historical novel based on events in the life of French writer Stendhal (Marie-Henri Beyle). Pearson will share the challenges of writing biographical fiction and what the medium can achieve that traditional biography can not. Presented in partnership with Granville Island Publishing.

When: January 22, 2020
Time: 7 to 8:30 pm
Where: Richmond Public Library — 100-7700 Minoru Gate, Richmond
Admission: Free

Ted Talks Discussion Circle: Overcoming Depression

What: ​Burnaby Public Library hosts a discussion circle, where attendees watch two or three short TED talk videos on a specific topic, then take part in a conversation led by a librarian. This month’s featured TED talks are on Overcoming Depression.

When: January 22, 2020
Time: 7 to 8:30 pm
Where: Burnaby Public Library – Cameron Branch — 9523 Cameron Street, Burnaby
Admission: Free

Community Movie Night: Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse

Spider-Man Into The Spider-Verse

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse (Columbia Pictures / Sony Pictures Animation / Marvel Entertainment)

What: City Centre Community Centre hosts a free, all ages screening of Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse. Light refreshments will be provided to the attendees.

When: January 23, 2020
Time: 7 pm

Where: City Centre Community Centre — 5900 Minoru Boulevard, Richmond
Admission: Free

Opening Reception: Sea to Sky

What: Port Moody Art Association hosts the opening reception for Sea to Sky, new works inspired by local landscapes around us. Juried selections embody interpretations of Sea to Sky, and showcase the varied painting styles of their members. Opening reception will have artists in attendance, and refreshments will be served.

When: January 23, 2020. Exhibit runs from January 23 until February 27, 2020. Closed stat holidays
Time: 6 to 8 pm (opening reception), 12 to 9 pm (Monday, Wednesday, Friday), 10 am to 9 pm (Tuesday and Thursday), 10 am to 4 pm (Saturday and Sunday)
Where: Port Moody Arts Centre – 2425 St. Johns Street, Port Moody
Admission: Free

Chinese New Year Countdown at International Buddhist Temple

What: International Buddhist Temple hosts a Chinese New Year Countdown on January 24. Enjoy cultural celebrations throughout the day, with the countdown starting at 10:30 pm.

When: January 24, 2020
Time: Countdown from 10:30 pm to 12 midnight. Activities throughout the day.
Where: International Buddhist Society — 9160 Steveston Highway, Richmond
Admission: Free

Chinese New Year Celebration at International Village Mall

What: International Village Mall’s celebration features traditional Chinese Spring festivities and rituals, as well as exhibition and sales booths on the Main and Upper Mall Levels. There will be Chinese New Year items, multicultural live performances and more. This three-day event includes an opening celebration with a ceremonial lion dance.

When: January 24 to January 26, 2020
Time: Various times
Where: International Village Mall – 88 W Pender Street, Vancouver
Admission: Free

Walk Richmond – Minoru Park

What: Walk Richmond leads attendees through Minoru Park in Richmond’s City Centre. The walk begins and ends on the Clement Track before making its way north to the Minoru Lakes area.

When: January 25, 2020
Time: 10 to 11 am
Where: Meet in front of the grandstand on Clement Track – 7191 Granville Avenue, Richmond
Admission: Free

Flea Market

What: ​Find a great bargain at the Confederation Community Centre Flea Market. More than 50 tables of pre-loved items are on display to comb through.

When: January 25, 2020
Time: 9:30 am to 2 pm
Where: Confederation Community Centre – 4585 Albert Street, Burnaby
Admission: Free for buyers

Family Day at PdA

What: Place des Arts hosts Family Day, where attendees can take a self-guided tour of the exhibitions. Afterwards, try the three drop-in style art activities inspired by the artwork.

When: January 26, February 16, 2020
Time: 2 to 4 pm
Where: Place des Arts – 1120 Brunette Avenue, Coquitlam
Register: Online, Free

Lunar New Year Celebration at CF Richmond Centre

What: CF Richmond Centre celebrates Lunar New Year with a Lion Dance Ceremony with the God of Fortune on January 26.

When: January 26, 2020
Time: 11 am to 2 pm
Where: CF Richmond Centre — 6551 No. 3 Road, Richmond
Admission: Free

Shakespeare’s EM

What: Pi Theatre invites the public to peek behind the curtain of their new adaptation of Othello, based on the point of view of character Emilia. From January 29 to 31 from 12 to 5 pm, attendees can see Pi Theatre choosing text, working on the show tech, and talking about characters. On January 31 from 2 to 4 pm, Pi Theatre will be performing scenes.

When: January 29 until January 31, 2020
Time: 12 to 5 pm

Where: Anvil Centre Theatre — 777 Columbia Street, New Westminster
Admission: Free

KDOCS presents Because We Are Girls

Because We Are Girls

What: KDOCS presents Because We Are Girls, which tells the story of a conservative Indo-Canadian family in small-town British Columbia that must come to terms with a devastating secret: three sisters were sexually abused by an older relative beginning when they were children. After remaining silent for nearly 25 years, the sisters decide to come forward, not only to protect other young relatives but to also set an example for their daughters.

The film subjects Jeeti Pooni, Kira Pooni, and Salakshana Pooni. Director Baljit Sangra will be in attendance, and Karen Snowshoe will be the keynote speaker. Health and wellness counsellors will also be on-site for the screening.

When: January 30, 2020
Time: 3;30 to 7:15 pm
Where: Kwantlen Polytechnic University — 12666-72 Avenue, Surrey
Admission: Free, register online

Keep the holiday fun going

Christmas at Canada Place

Christmas at Canada Place

What: Free Christmas attractions presented by the Port of Vancouver will be taking over the Canadian Trail, along the west promenade of Canada Place from now until January 1, 2020, from 8 am to 11 pm daily. This year’s festivities include a historic peek into the past with Woodward’s Windows displays, the festive Avenue of Trees, and the iconic white sails of Canada Place being illuminated with bright colours and designs throughout the holidays. And make sure to stop by Canada’s North light display including “Chrismoose,” a massive 15-ft-tall moose light sculpture. Snap a photo to commemorate a fun time at Christmas at Canada Place.

When: Now until January 1, 2020
 Time: 8 am to 11 pm Daily
Where: The Canadian Trail, West Promenade – 999 Canada Place, Vancouver
Admission: Free

Heritage Christmas

What: Take a trip back to holidays past at Burnaby Village Museum with Heritage Christmas. See vintage-themed displays, listen to live music, and enjoy theatre performances. There will also be crafts for children, baking in the Farmhouse, and visits with Father Christmas. There’s even the option to have a full turkey dinner, or festive drinks or treats from the Ice Cream Parlour.

When: Now until January 3, 2020
Time: Various times
Where: Burnaby Village Museum – 6501 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby
Admission: Free, carousel rides $2.65

Lights of Hope

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

What: St. Paul’s Foundation’s Lights of Hope sees the building glow with over 100,000 bright lights, and more than 200 shining stars. New to the display this year is the Living Light, an interactive art piece that gives everyone the opportunity to light a star themselves.

Installed front and centre of the display, the Living Light star is built with a dimmer that slowly waxes and wanes, as though the light is breathing. A kiosk installed below the star is fitted with a plaque that asks visitors to choose a donation amount, tap a contactless credit card to donate, and “Help Keep Hope Alive.” The star glows brightly every time a donation is made before gradually dimming again if it goes too long without a tap.

When: Now until January 6, 2020
Time: Every Day and Night
Where: St. Paul’s Hospital Burrard entrance – 1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver
Admission: Free

7th Annual Christmas Tree Festival Awards Ceremony

What: Join PoCo Heritage Museum and Archives for their 7th Annual Christmas Tree Festival wrap up party. Find out which Christmas trees won a trophy or prize this year. Light refreshments will also be served.

When: January 11, 2020
Time: 1 to 3 pm
Where: PoCo Heritage Museum and Archives – 150-2248 McAllister Avenue, Port Coquitlam
Admission: Free

Lights on the Lake at Harrison Hot Springs

What: Harrison Hot Springs will be overflowing with Christmas spirit this holiday season, thanks to the return of its annual Winter Light Festival. Light displays on the Harrison Lakefront will showcase the mythical creature hiking, biking, paddling, skiing, fishing, camping, and windsurfing. The event will also feature a Christmas tree trail and a brand-new synthetic outdoor ice rink.

When: Now until January 12, 2020
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 until January 19, 2020
Time: Dusk to 11 pm daily (until midnight on New Year’s Eve)
Where: Town Centre Park – 1299 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam
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: Open year-round on Saturday
Time: 10 am to 2 pm
Where: Riley Park Plaza — 50E 30th Avenue, Vancouver; Nat Bailey Stadium – 4601 Ontario Street, Vancouver
Admission: Free

Granville Island Public Market

Granville Island Public Market on May 10, 2014 in Vancouver, Canada (Julien Hautcoeur/Shutterstock)

Granville Island Public Market (Julien Hautcoeur/Shutterstock)

What: Open year-round and boasting stalls of fresh, colourful produce, homemade products, and must-try eats. From the ocean, oven, or field — Granville Market has got it all. Grab items to-go or order some grub from one of the many established food vendors at this indoor market. You’re going to leave happy and full.

When: Open year-round, seven days a week
Time: 9 am to 7 pm
Where: 1661 Duranleau Street, Granville Island
Admission: Free

Richmond Country Farms

What: Family-owned and operated for nearly 40 years, Richmond Country Farms is the farm stand adjacent to Highway 99 off Steveston. Open from early spring to just ahead of Christmas, the market has a bounty of fresh local produce and prepared goods.

When: Open daily
Time: 9 am to 7 pm
Where: 12900 Steveston Highway, Richmond
Admission: Free

Burnaby Artisan Farmers’ Market

What: Launched in June 2008, this open-air market, situated in the North Parking Lot of Burnaby City Hall, offers visitors an assortment of food and craft stalls to peruse on Saturday mornings every Saturday until “at least Christmas” and possibly longer.

When: Every Saturday
Time: 9 am to 2 pm
Where: North Parking Lot of Burnaby City Hall (4949 Canada Way at Deer Lake Parkway), Burnaby
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 until April 26, 2020
Time: 10 am to 2 pm
Where: Port Moody Recreation Complex – 300 Ioco Road, Port Moody
Admission: Free

New West Winter Farmers’ Market

What: The market features farm-fresh produce, plants, quality crafts from local artists and artisans, gourmet prepared foods, community information, live entertainment, and more.

Time: 11 am to 3 pm
Where: Belmont Street, New Westminster
Admission: Free

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