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41 Fun + Free Things To Do In Metro Vancouver this December

things to do vancouver christmas

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Tis the time for cheer and delight as the December is finally here! So let’s dive into the festive spirit with the many captivating events and experiences taking place this month all over Metro Vancouver.

From beautiful (and free) light displays to skating outdoors or visiting a market, there is so many festive things to see and do this month!

RELATED: 27 Christmas Markets to Explore This Holiday Season in Metro Vancouver

Things To Do In Vancouver This December

Stanley Park Bright Nights (Nov 30-Jan 6) FREE

 

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Every holiday season has cherished traditions that bring joy to our hearts. And one of Vancouver’s favourite tradition is taking in the breathtaking light display at Stanley Park’s Bright Nights event.

This FREE family-friendly event returns for another year of beautiful twinkling light displays, live entertainment, and delicious food. And the best part… the Stanley Park Holiday train will be returning!

When & Where: November 30 – January 6 from 4-10pm at Stanley Park
Cost: by donation

Robson Square Ice Rink (Dec 1 – Feb 29) FREE

 

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This winter, strap on some skates and frolic in one of Vancouver’s most beloved ice rinks. Downtown’s Robson Square Ice Rink will return to the public this holiday season. Conveniently located in the centre of downtown, it is an outdoor rink with a glass ceiling that beautifully lights up for the festive season.

When & Where: December 1 – February 29 from various times at Robson Square Ice Rink, 800 Robson Street, Vancouver
Cost: Free (Skate rentals are $5)

Williams Park Christmas Lights Display Drive Thru (Dec 1-20) FREE

 

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Langley’s annual Christmas in Williams Park lights display will be returning for the 2023 season! Visitors can once again enjoy Langley’s beautiful park adorned with thousands of twinkling lights. The annual drive thru experience is FREE to attend and is perfect for those looking to soak in holiday lights and cheer.

When & Where: December 1-20 from 5-9 pm at Williams Park, 8 Ave & 238 Street, Langley Twp
Cost: Free admission

Christmas at Canada Place (Dec 1-Jan 2) FREE

The annual family-friendly Christmas at Canada Place marks its return on December 1. Guests of all ages are invited to soak in the season and experience this popular holiday tradition. Many of the favourites from past installments are here as well, including Woodward’s Windows, North Point Lights, Sails of Light and the Avenue of Trees.

When & Where: December 1 – January 2 from 8am – 10pm daily at Canada Place, Vancouver
Cost: Free

Dundarave Festival of Lights (Dec 2-23) FREE

What better way to celebrate the season than taking in the shimmering lights displays, humming along to the free live music, or warming your heart by the giant bonfire. West Vancouver’s signature holiday celebration, the Dundarave Festival of Lights returns for another great year. The event will start with the tree decorating party on opening night on Saturday, December 2, and ends on the 23 with a giant bonfire party to conclude the season. In between, there will be free concerts and activities that are also open to the public.

When & Where: Starts December 2 and ends December 23, at the Dundarave Beach Park in West Vancouver.
Cost: Free

Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting (Dec 1) FREE

 

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The lighting of the Christmas tree is a magical moment often symbolizing the beginning of the holiday season, and the lighting of the Vancouver Christmas Tree is a cherished tradition for many.

So, join hands and celebrate as Western Canada’s tallest Christmas tree gets lit up, marking the beginning of a season filled with laughter, love, and cherished moments spent with family and friends.

When & Where: December 1st at 6 pm infront of the Vancouver Art Gallery
Cost: Free

Ice Skating at North Vancouver’s Shipyards Rink (Dec 1 – Mar 3) FREE

North Vancouver’s impressive 12,000 square foot skating rink in The Shipyards is set to open again this December and it’s free for all. You can see the skyline of the city in the background and all of these commercial amenities immediately accessible – it’s just absolutely spectacular.

When & Where: December 1 – March 3 from various times at The Shipyards, 125 Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver
Cost: Free (Skate rentals are $5)

“A Christmas Cocktail Story” Retro Holiday Pop-up (Dec 1-23)

This retro-themed pop-up, hosted at Dalina in Chinatown, is a must-visit for Vancouver foodies and cocktail lovers looking to celebrate the holiday season in style. As guests step into this holiday wonderland, they’ll be greeted with a special holiday drink to set the mood, delectable shareable fondue, and a delightful assortment of holiday treats.

When & Where: December 1 – 23 at DALINA Main st., 687 Main Street, Vancouver
Cost: $40

Steveston’s Winter In The Village (Dec 1 – Jan 8)

 

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The holiday season brings about many cheerful celebrations, but Steveston’s Winter In The Village is special. Special because it transforms Richmond into a month-long winter wonderland spreading Christmas joy and light. And the best part of this multi-venue, citywide festival – everything is FREE or low-cost. To beautiful lights and visits from Santa, to holiday trams and craft fairs, there are tons of things to do all month long.

When & Where: December 1 – January 8 at Steveston Village, Richmond
Cost: Free or low cost

Martini Town Film Studio Tour (Dec 1 – Jan 1)

Have you’ve always wanted to feel like you live in a Hallmark movie? Well here’s your chance to experience the magic of the films in real life. For the first time, Martini Town, Langley’s very own exterior Film Backlot, is open to the public after being transformed into a Christmas wonderland. Visit a New York City Street, courthouse, diner, town square and small town – all at Merry & Bright.

When & Where: December 1 – January 1 at Martini Town, 1123 272 St, Aldergrove, BC
Cost: $22

Art Gallery Free Entry (Dec 1) FREE

The Vancouver Art Gallery is free on the first Friday of every month. Attendees can enter between 4 and 8 pm. They will be offering educational tours and other programming free of charge. It’s also worth mentioning that children and teens aged 18 and under can visit the art gallery for free at any time, thanks to a program launched last summer that runs for five years.

When & Where: November 3 from 4-8pm at 750 Hornby St, Vancouver
Cost: Free admission (pre-registration is recommended)

Santa’s Christmas Ships: Christmas Boat Parade (Dec 1-23) FREE

The annual Santa cruises return to Port Moody’s Reed Point Marina, featuring up to 15 illuminated ships adorned in festive lights. They will be making their rounds starting on December 2nd and can be spotted cruising on Fridays and Saturdays until December 23rd.

Where & When:

  • Dec. 1: Rocky Point Park and Ioco
  • Dec. 2: Dollarton, Belcarra Bay, Barnet Marine Park
  • Dec. 8: Deep Cove
  • Dec. 9: Camp Howdy, Farrah Cove
  • Dec. 15: Woodlands, Brighton Beach in North Vancouver, Barnet Marine Park, Belcarra Bay
  • Dec. 16: Bedwell Bay, with Santa visiting children in Belcarra Regional Park followed by – fireworks
  • Dec. 22: Belcarra Bay, Deep Cove, Dollarton
  • Dec. 23: Belcarra Bay, Deep Cove, Dollarton

The ships depart from Reed Point Marina at 7pm and usually arrives at their destination around 7:30 to 8 pm.
Cost: Free

Festival of Lights boat Parade (Dec 2) FREE

Nearly two dozen boats will kick off the holidays when they sail from the Burrard Yacht Club to North Vancouver on December 2. The boat parade will depart from the Deep Cove Yacht Club at 6 pm and sail through Coal Harbour and past the North Van Shipyards. The general public is invited to go down to the waterfront from Waterfront Park all the way along to the Shipyards to watch the boats go by. Thousands of North Shore residents have gathered in previous years.

When & Where: December 2nd at 6 pm starting at Deep Cove, and going to Waterfront Park and Coal Harbour
Cost: Free

All aboard the Bear Creek Santa Express + Christmas Night Train (Dec 2-31)

Riding on a mini-holiday train through a winter wonderland of lights and festive displays is undoubtedly one of the most magical holiday experiences.

If you’re having no luck getting tickets for the recently returned Stanley Park train, have no fear, because Surrey has its own magical train ride for all to enjoy. The Bear Creek Christmas Train is back to provide a lot of joy, glee, and loads of family fun.

When & Where: Dec 2 – 31 from 4:30-10pm at Bear Creek Park, 13750 88 Ave, Surrey
Cost: $13

Candy Town – A Winter Wonderland in Yaletown (Dec 2) FREE

 

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Join in on the holiday cheer as Yaletown’s public plazas turns into a magical winter wonderland with the return of CandyTown. This beloved event is returning for their 11th year, and this year’s event will be better than ever with new additions that will delight families, friends, and even pets.

When & Where: December 2 in Yaletown
Cost: Free admission

Winter Experience at the White Rock Bright Walk (Dec 2 – Jan 8) FREE

Although already beautiful, the White Rock Pier will become even more magical and festive during the holiday season. This winter, the waterfront promenade decked with magical lights and displays full of holiday cheer. Among the beautiful holiday lights is a beautifully illuminated light tunnel and a 20-foot Christmas tree.

When & Where: December 2- January 8 at the White Rock Pier
Cost: Free

Spirit of the Season Festival at North Van Shipyards (Dec 2) FREE

Get ready for the Spirit of the Season Festival happening as The Shipyards transforms into a delightful winter wonderland! Join the City of North Vancouver for a magical celebration to kick off the holiday season! Enjoy free activities including ice skating, appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus, heartwarming stage performances, and plenty of family fun.

When & Where: December 2 from 4-8 pm at The Shipyards, 125 Victory Ship Way, North Vancouver
Cost: Free

Surrey Santa Parade (Dec 3) FREE

Explore the holiday spirit with the 16th annual Surrey Santa Parade of Lights! This festive parade promises to be unforgettable, offering guests the opportunity to enjoy a delightful array of antique cars, trucks, floats, marching bands, dancers, and more.

When & Where: December 3 at 5 pm at the Cloverdale town centre, BC
Cost: Free

Gordan Ramsey Burger Opening (Dec 4)

Gordon Ramsay’s iconic burger experience is hitting Great Canadian Casino Vancouver this December. Dive into gourmet burgers, signature sauces, hand-spun shakes, and more – a culinary masterpiece by Chef Ramsay himself! If that isn’t enough, Gordon Ramsay Steak is also set to open at River Rock Casino Resort in 2024.

When & Where: December 4 at Great Canadian Casino Vancouver – 2080 United Boulevard, Coquitlam
Cost: Varies

PNE Winter Fair (Dec 8-9, 14-23)

 

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This holiday season, PNE has an event where guests can find Santa Claus through puzzle-solving and riddle-cracking, go aboard the PNE Holiday Express, and wander through the enchanting Winter Lights. There will also be ice skating and a brand new Ice Bumper Cars experience. To cap things off, guests can treat themselves to some great Holiday Eats & Treats to warm up.

When & Where: December 8-9, 14-23 at the PNE Fairgrounds
Cost: $25.00

Goh Ballet Presents The Nutcracker (Dec 14-17)

Step into the enchanting world of Clara and her cherished Nutcracker Prince as they face off against the formidable Mouse King and journey through the Land of Sweets. This timeless holiday classic, will come to life in the annual production of “The Nutcracker” by Goh Ballet for five shows only this December.

When & Where: December 14-17 at the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza, Cambie St & Georgia St W, Vancouver
Cost: $67-210

The Coca-Cola® Holiday Caravan 6 Vancouver Stops (Dec 15-19) FREE

The Coca-Cola® Holiday Caravan is on it’s way to Metro Vancouver and will be in town from December 15 to December 19. Guests are invited to immerse themselves in a FREE interactive and festive gathering featuring a meet-and-greet session, a complimentary holiday photo opportunity with Santa + a refreshing beverage.

When & Where: December 15-19 at various locations
Cost: Free

Canadian Pacific Holiday Train 2023 (Dec 17-18) FREE

 

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All aboard the express train to the festive season! As the winter chill marks the return of the beloved Canadian Pacific Holiday Train, decorated with dazzling lights and featuring delightful musical performances.

When & Where: December 17-18 at various times and locations
Cost: Free

Steveston Santa Claus Parade (Dec 24) FREE

After a four-year break due to the pandemic, the official Steveston Santa Claus Parade is making a comeback on Christmas Eve. Starting at 6 pm on December 24th, Santa and his companions will begin their parade, proceeding in a zig-zag pattern southward until concluding near Garry Point Park at Seventh Avenue. Lasting typically between 60 to 90 minutes, the parade route details can be found online, showcasing around 25 to 30 beloved mascots like Frosty the Snowman, SpongeBob, and Kermit the Frog.

When & Where: December 24 from 6pm starting at Fourth Avenue and Regent Street in Steveston Richmond
Cost: Free

Ongoing Events

Cirque du Soleil: KOOZA

Cirque du Soleil is set to return to Vancouver this October with their mesmerizing show, “KOOZA.” This highly anticipated event promises to once again transport audiences into a world of wonder and awe as only Cirque du Soleil can.

When & Where: October 21-December  31 at Concord Pacific Place, 88 Pacific Boulevard, Vancouver
Cost: $60-$70

Squamish at Dusk (Nov 23 – Dec 10)

Get ready for a dazzling holiday fusion of lights, art, and pure magic as Squamish at Dusk launches its first winter magic experience!

Guests can walk through a magical tunnel of lights, explore glowing trees, and experience an under-the-water-themed installation. The journey takes 30-45 minutes, and you can warm up at the Adventure Centre with hot drinks and fire pits.

When & Where: Every Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from November 23 to December 10 at Rose Park – 38550 Loggers Lane, Squamish
Cost: $7-$15

Polar Express Squamish (Nov 25-Dec 17)

Bring out the candy canes and presents – it’s time to board the North Pole Express!

As winter’s beauty envelops Squamish, adventurous families are invited to climb on the train to Santa’s workshop. Don’t miss this magical Christmas train ride full of family memories that will last a lifetime.

When & Where: November 25 – December 17 at the Railway Museum of British Columbia,39645 Government Rd, Squamish
Cost: $82-$132 (for 2)

Vancouver Christmas Market (Nov 16- Dec 24)


The Vancouver Christmas Market at Jack Poole Plaza is a festive holiday tradition in the heart of the city. This enchanting market features beautifully decorated wooden stalls, offering a wide array of seasonal treats, handcrafted gifts, and traditional German fare.

Visitors can immerse themselves in the holiday spirit as they explore the market’s charming atmosphere, sip on mulled wine, and enjoy live entertainment against the backdrop of the iconic Olympic Cauldron.

When & Where: November 16 – December 24 at Jack Poole Plaza
Cost: $19.99

Seattle Christmas Market (Nov 24 – Dec 24)

If you’re doing your Christmas shopping south of the border this year, you may also want to hit up the Seattle Christmas Market. The Seattle Christmas Market is a beloved holiday tradition that transforms downtown Seattle into a festive wonderland each year.

Visitors can stroll through charming wooden stalls adorned with twinkling lights, savoring seasonal treats and shopping for unique, handcrafted gifts from local artisans.

When & Where: November 24 – December 24 from 11:30 am – 8pm at Seattle Centre, 305 Harrison St, Seattle, Washington, USA
Cost: $20 USD

Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain (Nov 24 – Dec 25)

Grouse Mountain is once again transforming for Peak of Christmas; a mountain top Christmas Village complete with an enchanting Light Walk, outdoor skating pond and more.

Guests of all ages will be transported to a winter wonderland, complete with snow, Santa and his real reindeer, brilliant light installations, skating, an Elf workshops, Christmas movies in the Theatre in the Sky and more.

When & Where: November 24 – December 25 at Grouse Mountain, 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver
Cost: $75 (Most activities included in lift ticket)

Glow Langley (Nov 23 – Dec 30)

The popular event returns to Langley, transforming a massive indoor venue into a dazzling wonderland of lights and interactive displays.

Families and visitors can explore illuminated gardens, admire intricate light sculptures, and even enjoy a visit from Santa Claus. With its enchanting atmosphere, Glow Langley has become a beloved holiday tradition, offering a magical experience for all ages during the festive season.

When & Where: November 23 – December 30 at Glow Gardens Langley, 6690 216 St, Langley
Cost: $23.99

Tinseltown: the Christmas Speakeasy (Nov 22-Dec 31)

Get ready for Tinseltown, the Christmas-themed pop-up returns to Vancouver this Winter. It’s all about spreading holiday cheer with Santa, elves, presents, festive decorations, and a delightful Christmas cocktail menu. With decorations galore, this event will leave you in the holiday spirit.

When & Where: November 22 – December 31 at a Secret Location
Cost: $17

Christmas at the Sea to Sky Gondola (Nov 24-Dec)

During the Spirit of Christmas, guests can stroll through a festively decorated Christmas Forest Walk, leading them back to the Summit Lodge where they can enjoy a comforting cup of hot chocolate.

The summit offers various snow-related activities like snowshoeing, winter walks, snowtubing, and evening headlamp hikes. Additionally, there’s a holiday fondue to share with friends and family to cap off a day of alpine adventure. There will also be special events in December with Santa and pancakes.

When & Where: Nov 24 – end of Dec
Cost: $65 for round trip lift tickets

Soar with Santa at FlyOver Canada (Nov 16 – Jan 2)

Soar Over Canada’s “Soar with Santa” experience is a heartwarming and exhilarating holiday adventure that takes visitors on a thrilling journey with Santa Claus himself. As you embark on a virtual flight over stunning Canadian landscapes, you’ll be captivated by the awe-inspiring beauty of the country during the festive season.

When & Where: November 16 – January 2 at 999 Canada Pl #201, Vancouver
Cost: $28

Burnaby Village Museum – Heritage Village (Nov 25-Jan 5) FREE

 

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Experience Burnaby in all its festive beauty. The popular Heritage Christmas event will be coming back for another year.

The event takes place November 25 to January 5, 2024, and the best part yet—it’s free. The official launch of the Heritage Christmas with a tree lighting ceremony will be on December 2nd at 6 p.m.

When & Where: November 25 to January 5, 2024 at the Burnaby Village Museum, Burnaby
Cost: Free

Festival of Trees (Nov 23-Jan) FREE

The Festival of Trees is a cherished holiday event that features a collection of beautifully decorated Christmas trees, each with a unique theme or style. There will be multiple displays this year, including Fairmont Hotel Vancouver from November 23 – January 1

When & Where: November 31 – December at multiple locations
Cost: Free

Winter Vallea Lumina (Nov-Jan)

Hit the Sea to Sky Highway and embark on a date night you won’t soon forget in Whistler. While hitting the slopes may not be for everyone, couples can always cap off their day with an evening spent at one of BC’s most magical outdoor attractions.

The idyllic winter destination is home to Vallea Lumina, a one-of-a-kind multimedia experience night walk nestled in the picturesque wilderness of Cougar Mountain.

When & Where: Cougar Mountain Road, Whistler BC
Cost: $45

VanDusen Festival of Lights (Nov 24-Jan7)

The VanDusen Festival of Lights is a beloved holiday tradition in Vancouver, held at the picturesque VanDusen Botanical Garden. Each year, the garden is transformed into a dazzling wonderland of millions of sparkling lights, creating a magical and festive atmosphere.

Visitors can stroll through themed light displays, listen to live music, warm up by fire pits, and even enjoy seasonal treats, making it a cherished destination during the holiday season.

When & Where: November 24 – January 7 at VanDusen Botanical Garden
Cost: $24

Lights at Lafarge (Nov 24 – Jan) FREE

 

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Coquitlam’s largest holiday light display is back. Stunning the area of Town Centre Park, Lights at Lafarge will wow spectators once again this year as they walk through the beautiful Christmas displays and enjoy some festive fun.

The Lights at Lafarge Kick-off Event will take place on Friday November 24, and there will be live entertainment and food vendors from 5-8 pm.

When & Where: November 24 – Early January at Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam
Cost: Free

“Lights by the Lake” at Harrison Lake (Nov 18 – Jan 7) FREE

This free wintertime spectacle will magically transforms the Harrison lakefront into a dazzling wonderland of lights. The event covers a 2 km waterfront stretch of Harrison Hot Springs. It creates a breathtaking spectacle that promises to make your holiday season even more magical.

When & Where: Harrison Lake, 160 Lillooet Rd, Harrison Hot Springs
Cost: Free

Canyon Lights (Nov 17 – Jan 21)

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a mesmerizing holiday event in North Vancouver. During this annual spectacle, the suspension bridge and surrounding rainforest are adorned with thousands of twinkling lights, creating a magical winter wonderland.

Visitors can take a breathtaking walk among the treetops on the suspension bridge while being immersed in the festive glow, making it a truly enchanting experience for all ages.

When & Where: November 17-January 21 at the Capilano Suspension Bridge, North Vancouver
Cost: $66.95

Festive Dining Experiences

 

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There are restaurants this month that will decorate their space with twinkling lights, creating a warm and festive atmosphere that’s perfect for getting into the holiday spirit.

These enchanting decorations not only enhance the dining experience but also make for a cozy and inviting setting for friends and families to come together during this special time of the year. It’s a delightful way for locals and visitors to enjoy the holidays while savoring delicious meals in a magical ambiance.

Here are a few to check out:

Go Holiday Shopping

As the holiday season approaches, the sweet scent of hot spiced apple juice fills the air, and toes begin to tap to bouncy Christmas tunes. And so the holiday shopping season has also begun. Here are a few fun spots to check out this winter season

  • The Christmas Store at Potters – Located in South Surrey, this is Western Canada’s Largest Christmas Store with an impressive array of festive decor.
  • Glenda’s Christmas Cottage -This home-grown holiday shop in Abbotsford is must see place for any Yuletide lovers celebrating the joy of Christmas.
  • There are also a number of Christmas Markets going on from now until the end of December. You can check out our full guide here.
    • Coquitlam Christmas Night Market (Dec 1-2)
    • Krampus Market (Dec 1-3)
    • Tugboat Landing Artisan Market (Dec 2) Free admission
    • Japan Christmas Market (Dec 2-3)
    • Make it Vancouver (Dec 7-10)
    • New West Holiday Market (Dec 9-10)
    • Very Victorian Christmas Market (Dec 12)
    • Vegan Holiday Night Market (Dec 7)
    • First Pick Handmade Holiday Pop Up Market (Dec 9-10)
    • Weirdos Holiday Market (Dec 8-10, 15-17)
    • Winter Art Market (Dec 8-9) Free admission
    • Ladies Night Sip & Shop (Dec 9)
    • Christmas Shipyards Artisan Market (Dec 16-17)

Catch a Christmas Movie (Dec 2,9,16)

Cineplex is offering movies at 11 o’clock on Saturday mornings for only $2.99 +tax. This month’s lineup includes Christmas classics like “The Polar Express” is set to play December 2, with additional showings starting on December 9. And Dr. Seuss’ “The Grinch” scheduled for December 16.

Note however that it is only at participating theatres, and available films details may vary on locations. You can check out their website for the most up-to-date details.

Where & When: Saturdays from 11am at participating cinemas
Cost: $2.99

 

For more upcoming events, check out our new events calendar.

 

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