26 free things to do this winter in Vancouver

Dec 16 2019, 7:00 am

FEATURED EVENTS IN YOUR CITY

Lots of fun and free events happening in Vancouver this winter. From Holiday Lights to Family Day, here are 26 free things to do in and around the city this season.

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

Enjoy the city and outdoors

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: December 21, 2019, January 18, February 15, March 21, April 18, May 16, 2020
Time: 9 am to 11 am
Where: Various parks in Surrey
Admission: Free

Winter In The Village

What: Steveston’s Winter in the Village is back for another season. Until December 31st, enjoy a variety of festive events including winter hayrides, Christmas carolling, photos with Santa and other free holiday happenings around the village.

When: Now until December 31, 2019
Time: Various times
Where: Steveston Village
Admission: Free

Gingerbread Lane at Hyatt Regency Vancouver

Leena Robinson/Shutterstock

What: The annual Gingerbread Lane has taken over the lobby of the Hyatt Regency. This year’s display features 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 Make-A-Wish.

When: Now until December 27, 2019
Time: All Day
Where: Hyatt Regency Vancouver — 655 Burrard Street
Admission: Free

Holiday Hi-Light Festival

What: The 31st Annual Holiday Hi-Light Festival has more than 150,000 lights on display over three acres. Entry is by donation and 100% of proceeds go to North Vancouver Firefighters and their various appointed charities

When: Now until December 31, 2019
Time: 5 to 9 pm
Where: Park & Tilford Gardens – 333 Brooksbank Avenue, North Vancouver
Admission: By donation

Christmas at Canada Place 2019

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 December 6, 2019, to 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

Vancouver Polar Bear Swim

2019 Vancouver New Year’s Day Polar Bear Swim (Steve McConnell)

What: The Vancouver Polar Bear Swim Club is one of the largest and oldest Polar Bear Clubs in the world. Its initial swim was in 1920, when a small number of hardy swimmers took the plunge into English Bay on New Year’s Day. The afternoon will also have live musical performances, food trucks, and more.

When: January 1, 2020
Time: 12 to 4 pm. Swim happens at 2:30 pm
Where: English Bay
Admission: Free. Participants must register online.

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 (closed December 24 and 25)
Time: Various times
Where: Burnaby Village Museum – 6501 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby
Admission: Free, carousel rides $2.65

Lights of Hope 2019

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 center 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

Nature Work Parties

What: Help remove invasive plants at Hazelnut Meadows Community Park. Tools, training, and light refreshments will be provided. No experience is required. Drop-in, rain or shine, though events may be cancelled in high winds or extreme weather conditions. Wear appropriate clothing for outdoor winter activities.

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 a 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.

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

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 20, 2020
Time: Various times
Where: Various locations
Admission: Free

Street Food City 9

Street Food City

@streetfoodvancouver/Instagram

What: Now in its ninth year, Street Food City will take place on select dates from January 17 to February 6, where foodies can find a rotating selection of food trucks 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)
Admission: Free entry

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.

When: January 18 to January 26, 2020
Time: 11 am to 7 pm
Where: Aberdeen Centre – 4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond
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, 2019
Time: Dusk to 11 pm daily (until midnight on New Year’s Eve)
Where: Town Centre Park – 1299 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam
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 26, 2020
Time: Various times
Where: International Village Mall – 88 W Pender Street, Vancouver
Admission: Free

Family Day at the Museum

What: Play board games with the family, take part in a scavenger hunt, and pose for a photo with mascot Raj the Racoon at Museum of Surrey’s Family Day.

When: February 17, 2020
Time: 1 to 4 pm
Where: Museum of Surrey – 17710 56a Avenue, Surrey
Admission: Free

Robson Square Ice Rink

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.

Study and Go Abroad Fair

What: The Study and Go Abroad Fair is a free event for students looking for undergraduate or postgraduate options at home or abroad. The expo offers an opportunity to meet directly with universities from around the world, and to learn about scholarships, admission requirements and program options. Also featured is a Travel Zone with work abroad, volunteering, internships and language travel programs.

When: March 3, 2020
Time: Feature Seminar starts at 1 pm. Expo hours from 2 to 6 pm
Where: Vancouver Convention Centre, East Building
Admission: Free, visitors can pre-register online or sign up on the day

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 (except December 28)
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

Winter Farmers' Market

@aguaconmiel/Instagram

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’ Winter 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 until April 18 (no market December 28, January 4 and January 11)
Time: 10 am to 2 pm
Where: North Parking Lot of Burnaby City Hall (4949 Canada Way at Deer Lake Parkway)
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, as well as live entertainment, inside a historic cannery setting. Admission to the museum is free on market days.

When: February 9 and 23; March 8 and 22; April 5 and 19
Time: 10 am to 3 pm
Where: Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site – 12138 Fourth Avenue, Richmond
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.

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

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