Celebrating Christmas in Vancouver is a true festive season wonder!
With its local backdrop of snow-topped mountains and beautiful evergreen forests, Vancouver in December is the quintessential image of the perfect Christmas destination.
Vancouverites certainly don’t hold back when it comes to celebrating things to do in Vancouver BC in December in style! As soon as Hallowe’en season is over and our Remembrance Day services are behind us, Vancouver citizens begin celebrating the festive season with gusto.
From the many Vancouver Christmas markets to the Stanley Park Christmas train, Vancouver Christmas events abound. As a native Vancouverite, I’ve had the pleasure of experiencing Christmas in Vancouver and I’m excited every year to revisit old things to do in Vancouver at Christmas and to experience the new Vancouver Christmas events on offer.
So what are we waiting for? Let’s see what celebrating Christmas in Vancouver is all about!
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Vancouver Carol Ships
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One of the best Vancouver Christmas traditions has to be the Vancouver Carol Ships. Every evening in December dozens of ships decked out in thousands of festive lights populate the waterways around Vancouver carrying passengers celebrating the season. Expert carolers on-board each ship sing traditional and modern carols for passengers, who are encouraged to sing along too. If you’re anywhere near the water in downtown Vancouver in December you’ll be able to see these beautiful ships and hear the caroling. It’s a really lovely Vancouver Christmas event.
Most Vancouver Carol Ships provide a professionally catered dinner and a fully licensed bar. I personally love this Vancouver Christmas tradition and look forward every year to a Christmas cruise around Vancouver. There’s something really special about hearing the music of carolers floating across the water on a foggy Vancouver night :-).
Best Tip for Vancouver Carol Ships
I always book my Vancouver Carol Ships cruise via Get Your Guide. They have the lowest prices, guaranteed, with no booking fees or hidden charges. If I change my mind, I can cancel up to 24 hours before. This is a great feature, especially if you’re like me and prefer to go in dry weather or on a less windy day. You can download your tickets to your cell phone too!
I really love these Vancouver Christmas Events. A Carol Ship Cruise is always part of my family’s Christmas traditions :-).
Capilano Suspension Bridge Christmas
The Capilano Suspension Bridge Christmas Lights are a really special part of Christmas in Vancouver.
Capilano Suspension Bridge is one of Vancouver’s best attractions, with thousands of visitors each year. In late November each year, Capiliano Suspension Bridge Park is transformed into a Winter Lights Festival with hundreds of thousands of lights throughout the park. The bridge itself, Treetops Adventure, the beautiful rainforest, Cliffwalk and all the rest are transformed with a world of festive lights and visual imagery.
The Capilano Christmas lights surround the 30-ton Douglas Firs as well as the 7 suspension bridges.
If you go to see the Capilano Suspension Bridge Lights, you’ll see the eight tallest Christmas trees in the world!
Capilano Canyon Lights runs from November 22, to January 26, 2020, from 11am to 9pm daily (except December 25).
Pro Tips for Capilano Suspension Bridge Canyon Lights
- Capilano Suspension Bridge Canyon Lights is most popular from December 20 – January 5. If you’d prefer lighter crowds, visit before or after those dates
- stroller are not permitted, but dogs on leash are
- ensure you dress for the outdoors – it might get quite cold!
- chose your footwear wisely – significant heels are not a good idea
- Capilano Suspension Bridge lights is a very popular event, and line-ups to get tickets can be very long. Buy your ticket in advance and save time at the venue.
- Parking at Capilano Suspension Bridge Xmas Light tour is very limited and quite expensive. Advance ticket purchase via Get Your Guide comes with round trip shuttle service to and from downtown Vancouver – excellent idea!
Christmas Events Vancouver – Vancouver Christmas Markets
Vancouver Christmas Market
This great Christmas market is located right downtown at Jack Poole Plaza, right beside Canada Place at 1055 Canada Place. Open from November 20 – December 24, 2019 this Christmas market in Vancouver is a local favourite. If you can’t travel to Germany to visit a Christmas Market, this German Christmas Market in Vancouver is a great option!
This outdoor Christmas Market in downtown Vancouver has a really nice selection of vendors each year. I always find something I didn’t know I needed as well as some perfect old-fashioned gifts for children and lovely gifts for adults. There’s also great food options and lots of hot drinks like mulled wine and apple cider.
This Christmas Market in Vancouver also has a super-cute WunderBAR within the Market where you can enjoy festive cocktails and holiday-inspired bites in a beautifully decorated Christmas setting. I love this particular part of the Vancouver Christmas Market :-). You need to book these Vancouver Christmas Market tickets in advance here.
Vancouver Christmas Market tickets are less expensive if you buy them online at $12.99, compared to $15 at the gate. For an additional $3.99 you can get a Fast Pass upgrade that allows you to enter through the Fast Pass lane at the Vancouver Christmas Market entrance.
The Vancouver Christmas Market hours are daily from 11:30am to 9:30pm. I particularly love going at night – there are so many lights to take in!
Visiting the Vancouver Christmas Market in December is a great way to spend part of a weekend in Vancouver.
Pro Tips for Visiting This Christmas Market in Vancouver BC:
- To avoid standing in line for tickets, buy in advance, visit during a weekday, or get the Fast Pass ticket
- Get your photo taken with Santa from 5:00pm to 9:00pm, earlier on weekends.
- Dress for the weather and be prepared for rain!
- Bring the kids! There’s a great kid’s craft area and free rides on a carousel
- This market is easy to walk to if you’re staying in downtown Vancouver
Circle Craft Christmas Market
I’ve gone to this great Vancouver Christmas Market for years and never been disappointed. It’s been a Vancouver Christmas tradition for over 4 decades!
This prestigious Vancouver BC Christmas Market features artisans and artists from all over British Columbia. Over 300 different artisans and artists shows their wares including clay, wood, textiles, metal and many more.
The Circle Craft Christmas Market runs from November 7-11, 2019 at the Vancouver Convention Centre West. Ticket prices are $15 , and are 50% off after 5pm – great deal! You can save $2 on ticket prices if you purchase in advance.
Pro Tips for Visiting Circle Craft Christmas Market
- Pace yourself! There’s so much to see and take in that you’ll want to make sure you have enough time to see everything
- Take transit and save on parking. Parking is expensive at the convention centre. Transit is a great (and green!) option.
- Talk to the vendors and learn the stories behind their crafts. I’ve found that the vendors love to tell you the Why behind their wares.
- Make sure to get your tickets in advance!
- Bring a wheeled backpack with you to easily carry all of your purchases
Hycroft Christmas Market
Christmas at Hycroft is Vancouver’s longest running Christmas market!
Held at the stunning Edwardian Hycroft manor in Vancouver’s lovely Shaughnessy neighbourhood, this beautiful Christmas market has been running for more than 45 years. It’s a fundraiser for the University Women’s Club.
This Christmas market is worth attending just to see the beautiful seasonal decorations and stunning architecture of Hycroft Manor. It just doesn’t seem like Christmas in Vancouver without going to the Hycroft Christmas Market.
There’s a great selection of vendors every year as well as excellent seasonal entertainment.
This Christmas market in Vancouver runs from November 14-17, 2019 daily from 11am to 9pm, with Sunday from 11am to 6pm. Admission is $15 and can be purchased in advance or at the door.
Stanley Park Christmas Train
Known officially as Bright Nights in Stanley Park, this Christmas train Vancouver is a beloved holiday tradition!
Sparkling with more than 3 million twinkling lights, breathtaking displays and live performers along the train route, this event appeals to both adults and kids. I love going every year to see what’s new and to relive old favourites. I particularly like the live performers along the route – they’re always surprising and it’s so great to see people’s reactions who don’t know to expect them!
There’s lots to see and do at Bright Lights Stanley Park. I recommend going hungry as there are quite a few food vendors you’ll want to try including the Reindeer Roadstop and Cafe, the Praguery Food Truck (Chimney cakes!) and Insomniac’s coffee.
Tickets for this event book up really early so you must book well in advance. Ticket prices support the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund. You can also bring non-perishable food items for the food bank.
The Stanley Park Xmas Train is located on Pipeline Road in Stanley Park, via the West Georgia Street park entrance. There’s free parking Friday-Sunday nights and after 3pm in nearby lots. Tickets must be purchased in advance to ride the train, and are sold in half-hour time slots. Prices are $12 for adults, $8 for kids 3-12, $9 for 13-18 and $9 for seniors 65+.
Pro Tips – Christmas Train Stanley Park
- buy Christmas Train Stanley Park tickets as early as you can – this is a seriously popular event
- arrive earlier than your train ride time – at least 30 minutes
- it’s not as busy Monday to Thursday in the first 2 weeks, and after Christmas
- dress warmly and be prepared for rain
- come with an empty stomach – there’s lots of delicious food to try!
- there’s stroller parking available
- photos with Santa are available daily until December 24 at the Railway Plaza’s North Pole, for $10.
- The Christmas Train in Stanley Park is a great addition to a short trip to Vancouver!
The Santa Train in Stanley Park is open from November 29 to January 1. Buy your tickets online here.
Vancouver Christmas Events – Van Dusen Festival of Lights
When thinking about the best things to do in Vancouver in winter, some great annual events come to mind that every Vancouverite knows and loves. One of those particular favourites is the Van Dusen Festival of Lights.
The Festival of Lights is on from November 30 – January 5, 2020. It is on its 36th season this year, and is one of the best Christmas things to do in Vancouver. Hours are 4:00pm-9:30pm (except Christmas Day). Advance ticket purchase is recommended due to the popularity of this event. Tickets are less expensive if you purchase them online – $19 for adults and $11.50 for children.
There’s so much to see and do at this event! Thousands of twinkling lights, dancing light shows, photos with Santa, live performances, carousel and more. Dress warmly and bring your camera – you’ll want to take lots of photos. There are selfie spots set up throughout the gardens with frames and sets – very insta-friendly!
I highly recommend this event as a great date night. We had one of our first dates here and it was truly memorable!
Christmas Things in Vancouver – Vancouver Christmas Glow
I’m really excited about this new Vancouver Xmas event!
This Christmas event in Vancouver BC is held at the Enterprise Hall Building at the Harbour Convention Centre at 750 Pacific Boulevard in downtown Vancouver. Dates are from November 21 to January 5, 2020.
It’s great to see new Christmas events in Vancouver! There are Christmas Glow events across Canada and the USA (plus one in Odense, Denmark!) and I’m excited to see what this one is all about. Billed as the world’s largest indoor Christmas Festival brightening up 11 cities in 3 counties. 1.6 million people have already visited a Christmas Glow festival!
The main attraction at Vancouver Christmas Glow are the Christmas light gardens, where you can explore lighted trails as you stroll under the twinkle of a million lights. There are also interactive hanging lights that twinkle and change colours, making a dazzling backddrop for your holiday photos. What a great idea! I’m dying to try out the LED swings and hopscotch offered too.
Vancouver Christmas Glow also features a licensed bar so you can kick back and enjoy a seasonal beverage while you listen to live music. Of course, there’s also a vendor market as well as food and drink options offered by more than 100 food trucks.
Unlike many other downtown Vancouver Christmas events, Vancouver Christmas Glow has A LOT of parking available, with more than 30,000 stalls.
Ticket prices are $19.99 weekdays and $22.99 on weekends for adults, $14.99 and $16.99 for kids and seniors. You can get 20% off on select dates by using code Vancouver20 at checkout. Make sure to buy your tickets online in advance, as tickets will sell out at the door!
Christmas Vancouver – Aurora Winter Festival
Hastings Park at the Pacific National Exhibition (PNE) is home to this beautiful Vancouver Christmas event.
The Aurora Winter Festival runs from November 22, 2019 to January 5, 2020. It includes plenty of interesting and exciting attractions including rides, games, activities, live music, theatrical performances, beautiful light displays, and engaging characters.
The Land of Giants is filled with giant animal sculptures including a family of moose! There are also bighorn sheep, polar bears and reindeer (of course!). There’s also an LED dance floor and a DJ.
The Polar Passage you’ll pass by the Yeti Cave, where Yin and Zaos can been seen. There’s also light sculptures, electric orbs and beautiful icicles. The Luminous Gardens feature the palace, ice throne, giant willows, beautiful gardens and kissing swans. Sounds like one of the great Christmas events in Vancouver!
The Aurora Winter Festival takes advantage of it’s setting at the PNE – the Ferris Wheel, tube park, Super Shot and other great rides will be operating.
Hours for the Aurora Winter Festival are 4pm to 10pm daily. Ticket prices are $18.89 for adults, $13.64 for kids and seniors.
What is your favourite Vancouver Christmas event?
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