A Very Merry Vancouver Christmas


We count down to Christmas with a list of 12 essential Vancouver holiday experiences



1. Eat, drink and be merry at the Vancouver Christmas Market. This authentic German Christmas market is now in its fifth year and brings authentic food, gifts, mulled wine and a children’s carousel to downtown Vancouver daily until December 24. It’s a Christmas must.


2. Crane your neck at the world’s tallest living Christmas tree. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park’s 152-foot, 250-year-old Douglas Fir Christmas tree is dressed in 10,000 LED lights and believed to be the world’s tallest living, growing, Christmas tree. And you won’t want to miss walking across the 450-foot suspension bridge, also illuminated with hundreds of thousands of twinkling lights.

Grouse Mountain 2

3. Skate on a frozen pond 3,700 feet above Vancouver. Grouse Mountain becomes Vancouver’s very own North Pole during the holidays with Christmas crafts and holiday movies in the Theatre in the Sky, along with visits with Santa and his real live reindeer. But the highlight for many is experiencing the tranquil beauty of skating on Grouse Mountain’s 8,000-square-foot outdoor rink, surrounded by snow-capped forest.


4. Meet Santa. Santa can be spotted at multiple locations around Vancouver this December, including the Burnaby Village Museum and Christmas at Canada Place. At the Vancouver Aquarium, “Scuba Claus” dons a mask and fins and swims with the fish.


5. See Vancouver decked out in lights. There are dazzling displays of Christmas lights to be admired at parks and gardens around Vancouver, including VanDusen Botanical Garden, Stanley Park’s Bright Nights and Capilano Suspension Bridge Park. New this year is the Lumière Festival, which brings festive light installations to the West End and Yaletown.


6. Stock up on stocking stuffers at Granville Island. For those one-of-a-kind gifts and a festive shopping experience, Granville Island can’t be beat. In addition to the culinary delights of the Public Market, pick up last-minute gifts at the artisans and boutiques situated throughout the Net Loft and Railspur District. For children’s toys, the Kids’ Market is required shopping.


7. See a holiday show. Even the staunchest Grinch will melt during a heartwarming evening of Christmas theatre. This year, The Nutcracker returns to the Queen Elizabeth Theatre, The Arts Club Theatre presents A Twisted Christmas Carol, Pacific Theatre presents It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Show, The Cultch presents Cinderella: An East Van Panto, and Vancouver TheatreSports League brings us the improvisational, guaranteed-to-bust-your-gut comedy Christmas Queen.

8. Experience Vancouver’s Carol Ships Parade of Lights. This annual Christmas tradition sees more than 50 boats decked out with 100,000-plus twinklers glide through Vancouver’s waterways throughout the month of December. The spectacle viewed from shore is free, but the best experience is aboard the carol ships themselves, which carry more than 30,000 guests every season.


9. Strap in, or climb on, for a Christmas ride. Grab a group or surprise the kids with a Christmas-themed ride on the Stanley Park Holiday Train, Vancouver Trolley Company’s Karaoke Christmas Lights Trolley Tour, or a holiday flight aboard FlyOver Canada. Each experience is guaranteed to knock your stockings off.


10. Take in a Christmas concert. Belt out your favourite Christmas carols at Vancouver Symphony Orchestra and UBC Opera Ensemble’s annual holiday event, A Traditional Christmas. Or, join Chor Leoni Men’s Choir for a unique choral rendition of World War One’s Christmas truce.

11. Indulge in holiday eating and drinking. Many of Vancouver’s best restaurants and hotels are open for truly lavish meals on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, which begs the question: Why bother cooking for yourself? There is even a Saturday and Sunday candlelight dinner series at the Sea to Sky Gondola.


12. Take a winter walk or snowy frolic. What do ice skating at Robson Square, strolling along Spanish Banks beach, skiing on Grouse Mountain and moon-lit snowshoeing to Cypress Mountain’s Hollyburn Lodge all have in common? They’re all iconic winter experiences that make Christmas in Vancouver different from anywhere else in the world. Don’t miss out.

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3 Responses to A Very Merry Vancouver Christmas

  1. Arun

    World’s Tallest Living Christmas Tree 162 foot still growing is in Coeur d’Alene IDAHO USA state.
    Please check out in my flickr account.

  2. José Morales

    Vancouver is always the most beautiful place on earth to be for Christmas and at anytime of the year… :)

  3. Alice

    We went to see “It’s a Wonderful Life Radio Show”
    Thanks so much for listing it!
    It was the Highlight of the Season so far!! What a great show, my guests just loved it too. Perfect!

    We also had a great time at the Van Dusen lights. Beautiful and fun.

    Thanks again for the great ideas!