20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays

November 24, 2022

20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays

Get into the holiday spirit with my list of 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays. This guide shares 20 things to do with friends, family, lovers or children during the holidays season in both Vancouver and Metro Vancouver – there’s something for everyone! 

Whether you want to keep Christmas low-key with a local grocery shop or super romantic with strolls under twinkly Christmas lights, make your kid’s Santa-loving dreams come true or go all out for Christmas, I’ve got something on this list of things to do in Vancouver to get you in the festive mood this Christmas.

Here’s 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays:

1. Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

Canyon Lights is the annual Christmas lights display at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. From Capilano River below to the forest floor and the bridge suspended on high, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is dressed to impress in hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights.

Roam amongst the tree tops on bridges adorned with twinkling lights, marvel at the continuous show of lights on Capilano Suspension Bridge, challenge yourself to not spill your hot chocolate as you make the wobbly crossing and don’t forget to visit the Cliffwalk too where you can walk through the light tunnel, “Arc de Lumina”.

Nervous about heights? Going to Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park after dark will be better for you as the darkness skews your depth perception and you won’t realise how high up you are. 

The best time of day to visit is dusk or on a dark, gloomy day so that the festive fairy lights contrast the environment but aren’t as difficult to capture on a camera as they are at night time.

Find out how you can get a free annual pass so that you can visit Canyon Lights as many times as you want in my blog post, FREE things to do in Vancouver at Christmas.

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada
Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

When is Canyon Lights on?

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is on from November 19th, 2022  – January 22nd, 2023.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park  is open from 11am – 9pm daily but is closed on Christmas Day.

Where is Canyon Lights

Canyon Lights is at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park in Capilano, North Vancouver. 

It’s a 20 minute drive without traffic from downtown but expect a slow journey back into the city due to a never ending festival of traffic in that direction.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park operates a free bus shuttle service from Downtown Vancouver for those who don’t have a car. Check out the schedule and routes here

Ticket costs for Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

  • Adult 18 – 64 years $62.95 
  • Senior 65 years+ $57.95
  • Student 18 years+ $49.95 
  • Youth 13 – 17 years $34.95
  • Child 6 – 12 years $24.95

Find out how you can get a free annual pass so that you can visit Canyon Lights as many times as you want in my blog post, FREE things to do in Vancouver at Christmas.

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

2. PNE Winter Fair

The PNE Winter Fair is a Christmas holiday fair hosted by Pacific National Exhibition. It’s where you’ll find a Christmas market, walk-through Christmas lights and the indoor Tim Horton’s ice rink.

Each night there will be live music at the Pacific Coliseum at 7.30pm (additional ticket required). Performances include the legendary Grammy Lifetime Achievement Award winner, Dionne Warwick and SMASH star, Katharine McPhee.

When is the PNE Winter Fair on?

The PNE Winter Fair is on every night from the 14th – 23rd December, 2022 from 4.30pm – 10.30pm.

Where is the the PNE Winter Fair?

The PNE Winter Fair is held at Hastings Park on East Hastings. 

Ticket cost for the PNE Winter Fair

  • Adult 18 – 64 years $15 
  • Senior 65 years+ $12
  • Youth 4 – 17 years $12
  • Children under 4 are free

Concert tickets range from $39 – $69 and include free admission to the PNE Winter Fair.

3. Tinseltown

Tinseltown is a travelling pop-up Christmas themed bar that will ignite a fire in the hearts of all Christmas lovers (of legal drinking age). Imagine the tackiest Christmas aisle of your local Dollarama, multiply by 100 and throw festive cocktails into the mix and you’ve got Tinseltown! 

Tickets give you 90 minutes to be merry, drink and take as many festive selfies as your holiday heart desires. One free Christmas cocktail is include with the ticket cost.

When is Tinseltown on?

Tinseltown is on from November 15th – December 30, 2022.

Where is Tinseltown?

Tinseltown 2022 is being held at Vancouver Alpen Club on Victoria Dr in East Vancouver.

Ticket cost for Tinseltown

Tickets for Tinseltown are $19.

You will need to bring two pieces of physical government photo ID.

4. Festival of Light at VanDusen Botanical Garden

Festival of Light, not to be confused with the annual Honda fireworks festival, is the Christmas lights show put on at VanDusen Botanical Garden in Shaughnessy. 

More than 1 million lights dress 15 acres of the botanical garden transforming VanDusen into a magical holiday delight. Pick up a hot chocolate or warm apple cider from one of their many eateries in the garden and stroll amongst the twinkling lights as cheerful Christmas songs fill the air around you.

When is Festival of Light at VanDusen Botanical Garden on?

Festival of Light at VanDusen Botanical Garden is on from November 25th, 2022  – January 2nd, 2023.

Festival of Light is open daily excluding Christmas Day from 4pm – 10pm. Last entry is 8.30pm – 9pm.

Where is VanDusen Botanical Garden?

VanDusen Botanical Garden is in Shaughnessy and is about a 20 minute drive from Downtown Vancouver and onsite parking is free.

Ticket costs for Festival of Light at VanDusen Botanical Garden

  • Adult 19 – 64 years $21
  • Garden (VBGA) members with valid card $12.25
  • Senior 65 years+ $15.50
  • Youth 13 – 18 years $15.50
  • Child 5 – 12 years $11
  • Children under 4 Free but must reserve a ticket

5. The biggest Christmas store in Western Canada

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

The Christmas Store at Potters is the biggest Christmas store in all of Western Canada. Every year Potters Garden Centre transforms 28,000 square foot of the store into a festival of holiday delights! Shop from a selection of over 50,000 ornaments whilst experiencing the magic of Christmas everywhere you look. 

The Christmas Store at Potters is perfect if you have a particular theme for the holidays or if you’re looking for Christmas decor inspiration.

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada
Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

When is the Christmas Store at Potters on?

The Christmas Store at Potters is open from November 9th – December 24th, 2022 on Mondays, Tuesdays and weekends from 9am – 6pm and 9am – 7pm on Wednesdays – Fridays.

Where is the Christmas Store at Potters?

The Christmas Store at Potters is in Surrey which is a 1 – 1½ hour drive from Downtown Vancouver.

Ticket cost for the Christmas Store at Potters

The Christmas Store at Potters is free to visit and if you sign up to their newsletter you’ll get 20% off on a purchase ending in 99¢.

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

6. Home Alone in Concert

It’s back!! Home Alone in Concert is once again back at the Orpheum theatre on Smithe and Seymour in downtown Vancouver. Watch the holiday movie classic Home Alone as the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra performs John Williams’ score live.

To say I’m so excited for this I could cry is a total understatement!

When is Home Alone in Concert on?

Home Alone in Concert performed by the VSO is on Wednesday 14th and Thursday 15th December 2022 at 7pm.

Where is Home Alone in Concert?

Home Alone in Concert is at the Orpheum Theatre on the corner of Smithe and Seymour in downtown Vancouver.

Ticket cost for Home Alone in Concert

Tickets for Home Alone in Concert start at $35.48 for Back Balcony and range all the way up to $118.57 Front Balcony.

7. Vancouver Christmas Market

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

With over 90 stands, Vancouver Christmas Market boasts being the largest Christmas market in the city. 

Shop handmade soaps, candles and ornaments, dine out on European Christmas market classics such as raclette, bratwurst and schnitzel then warm your hands with a hot chocolate or mulled wine served in the annual Vancouver Christmas Market collectable mug.

Don’t miss an opportunity to ride the carousel for free and take snaps under Lover’s Lane, a light tunnel made of 20,000 twinkling Christmas lights.

All of Vancouver Christmas Market is outdoors so bundle up to stay warm.

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada
Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

When is Vancouver Christmas Market on?

Vancouver Christmas Market is open from November 12th – December 24th, 2022. 

12th – 25th November 4pm – 9.30pm (10pm on Fridays and Saturdays).

26th November – 23rd December 11.30am – 9.30pm (10pm on Fridays and Saturdays).

Christmas Eve 11.30am – 6pm.

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada
Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

Where is Vancouver Christmas Market?

Vancouver Christmas Market is located downtown in Jack Poole Plaza next to Canada Place.

Ticket cost for Vancouver Christmas Market

  • Adult 18 – 64 years $17.99
  • Senior 65 years+ $14.99
  • Youth 7 – 17 years $9.99
  • Children under 6 are free

Book before December 9th for a Black Friday discount using code: BLACKFRIDAY.

Find out how you can get a free ticket for Vancouver Christmas Market or a free drink at the market in my blog post, FREE things to do in Vancouver at Christmas.

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada
Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

8. Downtown Vancouver Christmas tree switch on

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

Downtown Vancouver’s largest Christmas tree is back in front of the Art Gallery and will be switched on Friday the 2nd of December. 

Arrive before 6pm to pick up a free hot chocolate from a food truck located in the square then join the gleeful countdown in anticipation of the Christmas tree lights getting switched on for the season. After the big reveal stick around to enjoy a live musical performance of popular Christmas classics and there’s even a chance to meet Father Christmas/Santa Claus.

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When do the Vancouver Christmas tree lights get switched on?

The Downtown Vancouver Christmas tree lighting ceremony is on Friday 2nd December, 2022 at 6pm.

Where is Vancouver Christmas tree lighting ceremony?

The Downtown Vancouver Christmas tree is located in šxʷƛ̓ənəq Xwtl’e7énk Square (Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza).

Ticket cost for the Vancouver Christmas tree lighting ceremony

The annual Amacon Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony is free!

For more free things to do in Vancouver during the holidays, check out my blog post, FREE things to do in Vancouver at Christmas. 

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

9. Bright Nights at Stanley Park

Bright Nights is the annual Christmas lights display located in Stanley Park. The outdoor festive lights installation is hosted by Vancouver Board of Park and Recreation and BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.

In 2022 there will be an antique fire truck on display and there will be an opportunity to meet Fire Fighters as well as Father Christmas/Santa Claus in his workshop. Food vendors will be onsite as well.

Donations to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, who provide life-saving support and community to burn survivors and their families in British Columbia, are encouraged.

When is Bright Nights at Stanley Park on?

Bright Nights is 4pm to 10pm and runs from Thursday 1st December, 2022 – Sunday 1st January, 2023. The only days it is closed for 2022 are December 5th, 6th and 25th.

Where is Bright Nights at Stanley Park?

Bright Nights is located on Pipeline Road in Stanley Park, via the West Georgia Street park entrance. 

Free parking is available in the railway parking lot and the main lot across Pipeline Road after 3pm daily.

Ticket cost for Bright Nights at Stanley Park

Bright Nights in Stanley Park, Vancouver is free all season.

For more free things to do in Vancouver during the holidays, check out my blog post, FREE things to do in Vancouver at Christmas.

10. Christmas grocery shop at Granville Island Public Market

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

Public Market on Granville Island is the perfect place to do your Christmas grocery shop for your holiday meals. 

Granville Island Public Market is an indoor food market that has been operating since the 1970s and has over 50 independent food purveyors.

I did this for our first Christmas in Vancouver and it was one of the best decisions I made. We picked up all of our veggies, spices, meats and more and treated ourselves to a drink at Liberty Distillery Cocktail Lounge and a doughnut from Lee’s Donuts (who we catered our Canadian engagement party with). I love that our Christmas Eve, Day and Boxing Day meals were locally sourced and supported local businesses.

When is Granville Island Public Market in Vancouver open?

Public Market is open daily from 9am – 6pm.

Where is Public Market?

Public Market is on Granville Island which can be found under Granville Bridge in downtown Vancouver.

For an extra fun trip take the Aquaubus over from one of seven docks along False Creek.

Ticket cost for Vancouver Christmas Market

Public Market is free to visit.

11. Go skiing or snowboarding on the North Shore Mountains

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

Living in Vancouver during the rainy season is a challenge to say the least but one major reward is ski season. With all three North Shore mountains within an hour’s drive from Downtown Vancouver, Cypress, Grouse and Seymour are the ideal locations to spend the day on the slopes around the holiday season. 

If you’re not up to skiing or snowboarding then simply channel your inner ski-bunny and enjoy après-ski instead! Both Grouse Mountain and Cypress have a variety of restaurants and cafés within their ski resorts which you can either drive up to or take the Grouse Gondola to.

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

Lift pass for the North Shore mountains

12. Candytown in Yaletown

2022 marks the 10th anniversary of Candytown, an outdoor Christmas festival hosted by Yaletown in Downtown Vancouver. The first weekend of December will see Bill Curtis Square and Helmcken Plaza turned into a winter wonderland for a craft market as part of the festive activities.

Hop aboard a horse drawn carriage or watch an ice sculpting demonstration at Bill Curtis Square or listen to a live jazz band and Christmas carollers at Helmcken Plaza.

When is Candytown in Yaletown on?

Candytown in Yaletown is Saturday 2nd and Sunday 3rd December, 2022 from 12pm – 5pm.

Where is Candytown?

Candytown is in Bill Curtis Square and Helmcken Plaza in Yaletown, Downtown Vancouver.

Ticket cost for Vancouver Christmas Market

Candytown is free to attend. The horse drawn carriage rides are by donation to BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

13. Iceskating at Robson Square or Shipyards Skating Plaza

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

Get festively frosty and take to the ice at either Robson Square or Shipyards Skating Plaza. Each year these two community spaces are transformed into public ice rinks and are free if you already own ice skates. 

If you don’t have your own ice skates you can rent a pair for a reasonable price at both ice rinks.

When are Robson Square ice rink or Shipyards Skating Plaza open?

The dates for the Robson Square ice rink are TBC. 

The Shipyards Skating Plaza ice rink will be open the first week of December until the end of February.

Where is Robson Square ice rink or Shipyards Skating Plaza?

The Robson Square ice rink is located on Robson Street behind the Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver.

The Shipyards Skating Plaza is located in Lower Lonsdale waterfront in North Vancouver.

14. Festive cocktails in the city

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

There are many beautiful bars across the city that are not only festively decorated for Christmas but they also have themed Christmas cocktails. 

My top picks for festive cocktails in Vancouver are: 

Glowbal

Reward yourself after a day of Christmas shopping in downtown Vancouver with a drink at Glowbal on West Georgia. Glowbal is dressed head-to-toe Christmas and comes complete with a festive cocktail menu including a very good eggnog.

Book for their Santa Brunch on December 17th and 18th where Santa Claus will deliver sweet treats to everyone at your table.

1927 Lobby Lounge

1927 Lobby Lounge is the lobby bar at Rosewood Hotel Georgia and is one of my favourite bars in the city. It’s the most elegant and sophisticated bar on this mini list and ideal for glamorous cocktails after dark. Enjoy a selection of four festive cocktails including the Caramel Flip made with dark rum, caramel, egg and cream.

Winter Terrace at Reflections

The Winter Terrace at Reflections goes hard with their festive decor. The Winter Terrace at Reflections is located within the Rosewood Hotel Georgia and is a winter wonderland. Choose from 13 different Christmas cocktails including the Rosewood Christmas Tree for $175 which is a selection of their Christmas cocktails – best enjoyed with friends!

Bartholomew

Bartholomew on Mainland in Yaletown is my neighbourhood jaunt and one of my favourite places in the city. It’s a dark and intimate cocktail bar that has, in my personal opinion, some of the best charcuterie in the city. Order from their Winter Warmers menu for a cardamom hot toddy, mulled wine and more.

15. Christmas at Canada Place

Christmas at Canada Place is a free Christmas celebration hosted by the Port of Vancouver where you can marvel at the traditional Woodward’s Window displays, gaze upon Christmas trees sponsored by local business, say hi to “Chrismoose”, the 15ft illuminated Moose and look up at the sails of Canada Place which will be lit red and green for the season.

When is Christmas at Canada Place on?

Christmas at Canada Place is open every day from Friday 2nd December, 2022 through to 2nd January 2023, excluding 24th, 25th, 26th, 31st December and 1st January.

Where is Christmas at Canada Place?

Christmas at Canada Place is held at Canada Place located on the waterfront.

Ticket cost for Christmas at Canada Place

Christmas at Canada Place is free to visit.

16. Gingerbread Lane at Hyatt Regency

Gingerbread Lane is the annual gingerbread house competition hosted by the Hyatt Regency hotel. Local businesses around Vancouver come together to compete for the title of best gingerbread house and boy do they commit. 2022 will be the 30th year of Gingerbread Lane so expect the unexpected. 

Come along to the Hyatt Regency for free and cast your vote. If you plan on building a gingerbread house this holiday season Gingerbread Lane is the perfect place to get inspired for your very own masterpiece.

When is Gingerbread Lane on?

Gingerbread Lane is on from Friday 2nd December to Thursday 29th December, 2022.

Where is Gingerbread Lane?

The annual Gingerbread Lane is held at Hyatt Regency on Burrard St.

Ticket cost for Gingerbread Lane

Gingerbread Lane is free to visit but they are collecting donations from those who are able to for Make-A-Wish foundation.

17. The Snowshoe Grind on Grouse Mountain.

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

Christmas doesn’t have to just be about festive lights and drinking as many hot toddies as the season permits, it can also be about challenging yourself whilst enjoying a literal winter wonderland. The Snowshoe Grind on Grouse Mountain is a 4.3 kilometres (2.67 miles) hiking trail that will take you to the top of the mountain.

Whilst on Grouse Mountain enjoy the Peak of Christmas from November 25th, 2022 – 2nd January, 2023. Meet Reindeer, skate upon the 8,000 square-foot frozen pond and visit Santa’s workshop throughout the holiday season.

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

When is the Snowshoe Grind open?

The Snowshoe Grind is open daily throughout winter during daylight hours.

Where is the Snowshoe Grind?

The Snowshoe Grind is on Grouse Mountain and starts from the relocated Grouse Grind timer which is outside the Chalet.

Ticket cost for the Snowshoe Grind

Adult mountain admission and snowshoe rental is $71.

Postcards from Hawaii Travel Lifestyle blog 20 best things to do in Vancouver during the Christmas holidays Canada

18. The Nutcracker Ballet

Attending the Nutcracker Ballet is quite possibly the most quintessentially sophisticated thing to do during the holidays. For 2022 Goh Ballet is performing The Nutcracker at Queen Elizabeth Theatre.

The Nutcracker Ballet performed to a score by Tchaikovsky is about the magical adventures of a little girl who befriends a Nutcracker who comes to life on Christmas Eve.

Dress to impress and immerse yourself into the magical wonder of this ballet classic.

When is The Nutcracker Ballet on?