Top Things To Do In Vancouver At Christmas (2023)

Bright Nights in Stanley Park

Last Updated on November 30, 2023

Christmas in Vancouver is an especially fun time of year. Buzzing with holiday festivities, twinkling lights, Christmas trees, plays, outdoor ice skating, and more, you are sure to feel warm and fuzzy. Even in the rainy season in Vancouver, you can find a cozy holiday atmosphere.

These are what we think are the most worthwhile Christmas activities and events in Vancouver to choose from to ignite that festive holiday spirit.

We’ll be continually updating this throughout the holiday season as we find the best activities, so keep checking back for more holiday adventure ideas in Vancouver.

Updated for 2023 – with additional updates to come soon!

Table Of Contents

 

Bright Nights In Stanley Park

Vancouver’s famous Stanley Park hosts one of the best holiday traditions to get into the Christmas Spirit. I remember going as a kid every year, and we love seeing our kids’ eyes light up each Christmas.

Over three million sparkling lights will ignite your excitement for the Christmas season. It is one of the best festive and family-friendly light displays in Vancouver.

Admission to Bright Nights is by donation, with funds going to the BC Professional Fire Fighter’s Burn Fund. You’ll find firefighters collecting donations in boots.  Additionally, you can pre-purchase (online only) tickets to ride the Stanley Park train; its path is also covered in incredible light displays.

Admission is $15.00 (Adults), $13 (Seniors) and $11 (Child) and kids 2 years old and under are free.

Bright Nights is open from November 30th, 2023, until January 2nd, 2024.

To buy tickets, go to Bright Nights in Stanley Park .

Christmas Glow

For its first couple of years running, Christmas Glow started as an impressive indoor attraction. With hundreds of thousands of lights, live music, and plenty of activities for kids, it was a fabulous family-friendly attraction, first in a giant greenhouse in Langley, then opened two location options in Abbotsford and Vancouver.

This year, Glow will transform into a Christmas Carnival. You can expect improved heated and covered spaces, carnival-themed games, towering carnival-themed lights, the much-loved magical holiday landscapes, and the thrill of more than a million lights.

Tickets are selling out fast, so reserve your spot soon. Christmas Glow is open November 23, until January 1, 2024.

Fingers crossed that Glow can return to its elaborate indoor event next year.

To buy tickets, go to GlowGardens.com.

Christmas Lights Driving Adventure

The Vancouver Sun newspaper tracks the best house light displays around Metro Vancouver. All it costs is putting some gas in your vehicle. Get in your PJ’s, bring some blankets, hot chocolate, and goodies, and feel the warmth as you observe Christmas lights in Vancouver and the lower mainland to your heart’s content. Don’t forget to include some of the suburbs of Vancouver; that is often where you will find the best houses all lit up for Christmas!

Check back soon to a link to the 2023 Christmas Light Map!

Merry & Bright at Martini Town

This is the cutest and most unique way to celebrate the Holidays near Vancouver.

Step into a realm of cinematic enchantment and immerse yourself in an extraordinary holiday adventure. Experience the unparalleled magic of Martini Town, Langley’s exclusive outdoor Film Backlot, as it unveils its mystical transformation into a captivating Christmas wonderland, crafted by a team of skilled industry professionals. Prepare to be spellbound by this opportunity to explore the mesmerizing world of movie-making. Get ready to discover Instagram-worthy photo opportunities at every turn, have the chance to meet Santa (during select times), and indulge in delectable culinary delights. Additionally, you’ll be treated to a diverse array of talented singers, choirs, and entertainers, making your experience even more memorable.

Martini Town Merry & Bright welcomes you from Wednesday to Sunday every week in December. Additionally, Merry & Bright is open from 4 to 10 pm on Tuesday, December 26th (Boxing Day) and Monday, January 1st (New Year’s Day).

Get your tickets HERE.

Surrey Tree Lighting Festival

The Surrey Tree Lighting Festival stands as the City of Surrey’s most anticipated holiday event. Each year, residents are invited to witness the grand moment when Mayor and Council illuminate the majestic 60ft Christmas Tree. Celebrating its 13th year in 2023, this cherished festival has gifted attendees with a decade of cherished holiday memories and cherished traditions.

Every year, this event never fails to amaze its attendees with its remarkable light installations, a festive market, an energetic dance stage, talented DJs, delectable food trucks, and a wide range of activities suitable for all ages.

Join us on Saturday, November 25 & Sunday, November 26 from 12-8pm at Surrey Civic Plaza. Free admission.

Christmas Craft Fairs

You will have no shortage of options to support local this Christmas. Craft fairs can be found at local schools and churches in the cities around Vancouver. It is a great way to find the cutest additions to your Christmas decor or to find a thoughtful gift for the hard-to-shop-for people on your list.

You can find a great list of Christmas craft fairs here.

Christmas Store At Potter’s

Potter’s is Western Canada’s biggest Christmas store. With over 28,000 square feet of display space, you know they’ll have whatever you’re dreaming of this Christmas.

Potters shops the world for all things Christmas. With many unique displays, and over 60,000 themed ornaments, lighted home décor, and all the best stocking stuffers, visiting is a Christmas adventure.

The Christmas Store is open from mid-October thru to Christmas Eve every year.

Hyatt Gingerbread Lane

Experience a delightful stroll through Canada’s renowned Gingerbread Lane, the longest-running display of its kind.

2023 marks the 31st annual Gingerbread Lane event, attracting over 20,000 visitors each year.

Indulge in the rich tradition of our exquisitely crafted Gingerbread Cookie Houses, meticulously created by talented individuals from the local community and partners.

Open to the public December 1st -December 29th.

Robson Square outdoor rink

Outdoor Ice Skating

With our mild winters, Vancouver usually does not get much snow in the city, and it is not cold enough for ponds to freeze over. Our outdoor rinks are hand-built, but still a ton of fun for an outdoor skate. There are four great rinks to go for a skate:

Robson Square

Skating under the covered glass done in downtown Robson Square is a holiday tradition. Shielded from the Vancouver weather, this is another great option for an escape from the rain.

Admission is also free at this skating rink, but skate rentals are extra.

The rink opens in early December 2023, until February 2024.

For more information about the Robson Square Rink, go here.

Grouse Mountain

The most expensive option as you need to purchase a Mountain Admission ticket, or have an annual locals pass. However, the 8,000 square-foot skating pond is the only mountain-top outdoor skate pond in the lower mainland. This makes it extra magical at night when the lights are twinkling and the snow is falling.

This is a great option for some family fun or a romantic date night.

If you’re going up the mountain, don’t forget to include some winter sports, snowshoeing, or enjoy the Peak Of Christmas At Grouse, where ice skating is included.

Enjoy the skating pond from late November to April.

Find out more at the Grouse Mountain website.

Shipyard Skate Plaza, North Vancouver

Next to the Lonsdale Quay in North Vancouver’s Shipyard Commons is one of the region’s largest and newest outdoor skating rinks. You also do not need to worry about all the Vancouver rain. With a retractable cover, you can skate in whatever weather Vancouver throws at you.

The free admission is incredible; you only need to purchase skate rentals if you do not have your own skates.

Opens in early December 18, 2023 to January 7, 2024.

Find out more about this skating rink at the City of North Vancouver website.

Whistler Olympic Plaza

If you do not mind a bit of a drive, a fabulous outdoor option is the rink in Whistler’s Olympic Plaza. Surrounded by twinkling lights and falling snow, you’ll feel winter’s magic.

Admission is only $2m with skate rentals extra.

The rink is open from November 26. 2021  until March 2022.

November 24, 2023, until late March 2024.

Find out more about the rink at the Tourism Whistler website.

Cloverdale Winter Ice Palace

For over two decades, the Winter Ice Palace has been a cherished holiday tradition, bringing joy and festive cheer to people of all ages in Surrey. This enchanting annual event features the rink surrounded by twinkling lights and holiday decorations. Families can lace up their skates and glide across the ice in this winter wonderland, while enjoying festive music. Find out more HERE.

The Peak Of Christmas At Grouse Mountain

The Peak Of Christmas at Grouse Mountain takes you right into a winter wonderland, for a full day of Christmas activities. Watch holiday movies, be mesmerized by twinkling lights, visit Santa, go on a sleigh ride, witness real reindeer, skate on their mountain-top pond, go snowshoeing and enjoy breathtaking views of Vancouver below. All with snow-covered trees and the extra magic the Christmas season brings.

This is a bit of a more expensive activity, with pricing increasing the closer you get to Christmas, but well worth the money for a family of four (two adults and two children). Tots (ages 4 & under) are free, but still require a ticket.

Pricing: November 24 – December 8 ($89), December 9 – December 15 ($115), and December 16 – December 25 ($139).

A Mountain Admission Ticket includes round-trip travel via the Skyride and access to open mountaintop attractions. A Mountain Admission Ticket does not include access to skiing and snowboarding.

In 2023, the activities run from November 24 to December 25.  Go to the Peak of Christmas for more details and to purchase tickets.

Vancouver Christmas Market

Visit the Vancouver Christmas Market for a touch of Germany through the holidays. This German-themed Christmas market has many artisan vendors, and German-style food and drinks. There is also a Christmas carousel and live entertainment. With a fun and festive atmosphere, it is a great spot to enjoy some mulled wine or cider under twinkling lights.

Located at Jack Poole Plaza, by the Vancouver Olympic Cauldron and Convention Center, it is a convenient location for some festive entertainment.

Go to the Vancouver Christmas Market website for more details about planning your visit.

The Vancouver Christmas Market is open between November 16th and December 24th, 2023.

Lights To The Lodge

Experience the enchanting beauty of a snow-covered forest adorned with sustainably hung twinkling lights at Cypress Mountain’s Lights to the Lodge. Immerse yourself in the holiday magic as you meander through this captivating wonderland, eventually reaching the historic Hollyburn Lodge where you can indulge in comforting cuisine and cozy beverages.

2023 ticket prices still to be announced. Find out more HERE.

Burnaby Village’s Heritage Christmas

Burnaby Village’s Heritage Christmas is a great lower mainland gem, and an affordable option to take the family out during the holidays – admission is free! It is not the most elaborate display, but the lights and decorations will still get you into the Christmas mood, with some interesting history too!

You can also take a ride on the restored 1912 C.W. Parker Carousel, for $2.52 per person, per ride.

The festivities at Burnaby Village run from November 25, 2023-January 5, 2024.

Visit the Burnaby Village website for more information to plan your visit.

VanDusen Festival Of Lights

Indulge in the magic of the holiday season at VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights. Experience a winter wonderland with over one million dazzling lights spread throughout the garden, as well as festive activities and performances for all ages.

Immerse yourself in the holiday spirit with the enchanting Dancing Lights, wander through beautifully themed light areas, and indulge in delectable treats from a delightful array of food vendors.

The festival runs from November 30th to January 5th, and tickets can be purchased HERE.

Use the promo code “DEBBIE10” for 10% off tickets between November 24 and December 7!

FlyOver Canada

FlyOver Canada is a multi-dimensional experience that takes you on a journey as you “fly over” Canada. During the Ultimate Flying Ride you will see numerous cities and vistas across the country.

This holiday season FlyOver Canada also features “Soar With Santa,” where guests are entertained by elves and get to follow Santa on his adventure across the country.

Guests must be 40” to ride. If your family is coming and a child is too small to ride, there is a Parent Swap ticket available. The group can split into two, to take turns staying with any children that cannot ride.

This is a great option for those rainy Vancouver days since it is an indoor event. Keep in mind that the entrance lines are partially exposed to the elements, so dress accordingly.

Head on over to FlyOver Canada to plan your visit.

The feature Christmas film “Soar With Santa” runs from November 16, 2023, until January 2nd, 2024.

While you’re at Canada Place, do not miss checking out the Woodward’s windows!

Photo: Capilano Suspension Bridge

Capilano Suspension Bridge

Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver is Named one of the most spectacular holiday lights displays in the world. It is a magical adventure of visual enchantment, a perfect adventure full of fun for the whole family. Prepare to be dazzled high above the forest floor among the bridges and walkways.

The Capilano Suspension bridge is a major Vancouver attraction, opening in 1889. The suspension Bridge spans 137m (450 ft) and 70m (230ft) high above the Capilano River.

This year, Canyon lights run from November 17, 2023, until January 21, 2024.

Visit the Capilano Suspension bridge website for more information.

Photo: PNE Winterlights

PNE WinterLights

PNE WinterLights transports your car full of loved ones through nine enchanted lands filled with glowing lights, special characters, and festive performers along the way; all from the warmth of your vehicle.

PNE WinterLights is a great option for a family outing over the holidays. At $37 t0 $42 per carload of 8 people maximum (plus fees and dependent on day visiting), it is an activity on the more affordable side that both kids and adults will enjoy.

Go to the PNE WinterLights website to see the calendar of select dates available between December 8 and December 23 in 2023.

Vallea Lumina In Whistler

If you’re up for a bit of a drive from Vancouver, taking a wander through a forest of enchantment at Vallea Lumina in Whistler is well worth the drive.

Walking through the forest you’re treated to a variety of multimedia displays telling old stories of the wondrous history of the land with two long-ago hikers, a little girl and her grandfather, that were following a trail of stardust to find the mystical hidden valley.

You will be completely mesmerized by the unique multimedia displays, stopping to watch several of the shows more than once.

After the snowy winter walk, warm yourself at one of the fire pits at the base camp with some s’mores.

It is an easy and well-lit path, but keep in mind that it is a 1.5km walk in the dark and you may come upon some uneven parts and a couple of small hills.

This attraction is located on Cougar Mountain, just past Whistler. While it runs throughout the year, we find the most magical time to experience it is in the snow during winter.

Learn more about Vallea Lumina by reading our review!

Woodwards Windows At Canada Place

The Woodward’s Windows are a treasured part of Vancouver’s history. Originally displayed in the popular old Woodward’s department store, if you have been around Vancouver for long enough, they are probably a big childhood memory. The windows feature classic holiday scenes with animated characters and elaborate old-fashioned decor. Handcrafted in the 1960s, the displays include Santa’s Workshop, The Candlestick Factory, and The Lamplighter. When Woodward’s shut down, Canada Place bought the displays and started including them in their Christmas event each year.

From December 1, 2023, until January 2, 2024, between 8 am and 10 pm, take the family to share one of the old favorite Vancouver traditions. You will also find the decorated Avenue of Trees, and A Chrismoose story, and a holiday-themed “Sails of Light” display.

You’ll want to view this attraction after dark for the full experience.

Christmas at Canada Place is located along the west promenade and North Point of Canada Place.

This is a short experience, so you will want to pair it with some extra Christmas fun. The entrance to FlyOver Canada is among this Christmas display at Canada Place. Or, a short walk down the street is the Vancouver Christmas Market.

For more details on planning your visit to Christmas at Canada Place, go to the Canada Place website.

Playing In The Snow

It does not feel like Christmas without spending time playing in the snow.

One of the best things about Vancouver is being a hop, skip and jump away from the mountains. With several ski resorts near Vancouver, it is easy to find snow during the winter. Whether you want to ski, snowboard, snowshoe, or go tubing, sledding, or build a snowman, there are plenty of options for the whole family.

You will find plenty of snow fun at Grouse Mountain, Cypress Mountain, and Mount Seymor.  If you’re willing to venture a little farther, Whistler Blackcomb is a 1.5-hour drive from the city of Vancouver and is well known for its world-class skiing and facilities.

Lights At Lafarge Lake

One of the best free light displays you will find is at Lafarge Lake, a five-hectare man-made lake, located in Town Centre Park in Coquitlam. This large display lights up the 1.2km stroll around the lake. This year, there are two path options to help with social distancing.

The busiest time to visit is the few days before Christmas. Visit in early December or January for fewer crowds, with the display running from  November 24, to the end of the holidays.

 

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