December brings alight the holiday events all over British Columbia. There are dozens of things to do in Vancouver in December, it is almost impossible to fit all of them in. While some holiday events in Vancouver actually occur in November, most celebrations and events are in December.
2021 still looks different than in previous years but most businesses have adapted to the current conditions and are open. If you are wondering what to do in Vancouver in December you will not be disappointed this year. There are still plenty of Vancouver events to enjoy, and I have listed them all below.
Fly Over Canada’s Original Production
If you have never seen Fly Over Canada, then you are in for a treat. During the Ultimate Flying Ride you will see numerous cities and vistas across the country. The production team for FlyOver Canada were able to select 18 scenes from over 100 hours of footage to represent Canada in the ride film. There are no subtitles or voice-overs during the experience, as we did not want to detract from the flying sensation
Tickets: Book your tickets online in advance here for the lowest price and to ensure availability.
Dates: Offered Year Round and can be combined with seasonal productions.
Location: 201 – 999 Canada Place Vancouver, BC
Important Notes: The queue is partially exposed to the elements. Ensure you wear proper attire. It is recommended to buy tickets online in advance.
FlyOver Canada’s Seasonal Offering: Soar with Santa
Soar with Santa this Christmas on a magical flight across Canada from FlyOver Canada. This season, we invite audiences to soar with Santa across Canada and the North Pole in an original cinematic ride experience.
Tickets: Book your tickets online in advance here for the lowest price and to ensure availability
Dates: Dec 6th 2021 to Jan 3rd 2022
Location: 201 – 999 Canada Place Vancouver, BC
Important Notes: The queue is partially exposed to the elements. Ensure you wear proper attire. It is recommended to buy tickets online in advance
Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge
Named one of the most spectacular holiday lights displays in the world, Canyon Lights is set to dazzle and amaze, high above the forest floor. The suspension bridge, rainforest and Capilano River are ablaze with lights, making it a perfect spot for photos. Treetops Adventure (the eight tallest Christmas trees in the world) is lit from top to bottom, the “Arc de Lumina” light tunnel mesmerizes on Cliffwalk, while the Snowy Owl Prowl scavenger hunt entertains the whole family.
A tradition for many Vancouver families, Canyon Lights looks forward to welcoming back guests with a few operational changes to ensure the health and safety of visitors and staff in a COVID world. While normally one of the things to do in Vancouver in December, Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge will again be open to visitors on November 20th 2021. Tickets and annual passes will only be available for pre-purchase online for a specific date and time to limit contact upon entry and reduce capacity.
Dates for Canyon Lights: November 20th 2021 to January 23rd 2022
Location: 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver
Important Notes: Masks are required. Strollers are not allowed. Dress for the outdoors.
Ski at The Local Mountains
A Vancouverite pastime, skiing on the local mountains is what so many adults remember about growing up in Vancouver.
Grouse Mountain features 33 Ski and Snowboard runs, 15 night runs, 4 chairlifts and 6 terrain parks. Single Lift Tickets include access to the Skyride, chairlifts and mountaintop activities. Lift Ticket valid for one uphill and downhill ride on the Skyride in the same day.
Mount Seymour is the closest to downtown Vancouver. has 4 chair lifts, 5 terrain parks, a tube park, snowshoeing and toboggan area. It has 40 marked runs, about half of which are available for nigth skiing.
Cypress is the biggest of the local mountains and has cross country skiing in addition to downhill skiing and snowboarding. there is also snow tubing and snowshoeing.
Stanley Park Holiday Train
Welcoming over 200,000 visitors annually, the Stanley Park Railway is popular with locals and tourists alike. The Stanley Park Holiday train is back for the 2021 holiday season in vancouver
The 20 gauge, 2 km track winds through the forest over ground cleared by Typhoon Freda, the most devastating storm in Vancouver history which blew through in 1962.
Passengers can get a close-up look at a vintage engine and a quick photo before boarding for the 15-minute ride.
The jewel of the Stanley Park Railway’s collection of old locomotives is a locally-built replica of Canadian Pacific Railway Engine #374, famous for pulling Canada’s first transcontinental passenger train into Vancouver in the late 1880s.
Stanley Park Railway is adjacent to other popular destinations such as Lumberman’s Arch, Malkin Bowl, and the Rose Garden.
Tickets: $13 for adults (19-65) Children (3-12) $9, Youth (12-17) $10, Seniors (54+) $10 (under 2 is free). They must be bought online in advance. There are also matinee tickets that are cheaper.
Location: Stanley Park
Dates: Nov 26th 2021 to Jan 2nd 2022
Lights on the Lake at Harrison Hot Springs
While this event gained a ton of online press for being mis-marketed as a Whoville, it is a beautiful display of lights in Harrison on Harrison lake. Whether you visit for the day or make it a weekend getaway from Vancouver, it is a great outdoor event that will likely be very popular in 2021.
2021 Dates to be released
Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum
Thousands of guests will be transported to a winter wonderland at the Burnaby Village Museum during Heritage Christmas, one of the largest annual holiday celebrations in Metro Vancouver. Twinkling lights will adorn the vintage storefronts at Burnaby Village Museum, while holiday carolers
and characters like Buddy the Elf wander the streets during Heritage Christmas. The result is a magical holiday experience unlike any other in Metro Vancouver and it’s all presented free of charge by the
City of Burnaby.
Location: 6501 Deer Lake, Burnaby BC
Dates for 2021: TBD
Grouse Mountain Peak of Vancouver
Grouse Mountain offers more than just skiing. With skating, light walks, snowshoeing and more, it is worth taking the tram up the mountain. More info will be posted on activities and dates for 2020 as it becomes available.
Get your admission passes here.
Vancouver Christmas Market
Vancouver’s largest and longest-running Christmas Market – and only European Christmas Market – invites families and friends to reconnect and celebrate the spirit of the holiday season with an expanded six-week schedule
from November 13th to December 24th.
The 11th year of the outdoor, traditional German-inspired Market will introduce new vendors and activities with schedules launching over the coming weeks.
Traditional mulled wine,savoury treats and baked goods, carousel rides, festive music, and magical lighting displays
are all a part of this year’s event.
Experience a selection of traditional food and beverages, and browse vendors offering authentic wood carvings and toys, knitted goods, nutcrackers, pottery, and other unique gifts. This is a popular place to get Vancouver souvenirs.
Dates: Nov 13th 2021 to Dec 24th 2021
Location: Jack Poole Plaza, 1055 Canada Place
Prices: Tickets start at $7.99 based on the type of ticket you purchase. Kids 6 and under are free.
Tickets: Pre Sale Tickets are available online. Tickets can also be purchased on arrival subject to availability.
Important Notes: Visitors to the market must show their COVID-19 vaccination passport and government-issued photo ID at the gates
Vancouver Santa Claus Parade
After months of exploring alternative formats and options that would allow it to go ahead in some way, the Vancouver Santa Claus Parade Society has officially canceled the Vancouver Santa Claus Parade for 2020 due to COVID-19.
For 16 years, the annual parade has thrilled audiences of all ages with crowds of 300,000 flocking to downtown Vancouver to watch marching bands, choirs, float entries and community groups perform along the 1.8-km route. In addition to kicking off the holiday season, the parade celebrates the spirit of giving by generating much needed donations for those in need across the Lower Mainland through its support of the Greater Vancouver Food Bank, as well as the CKNW Kids’ Fund, which enhances the lives of children living with physical, mental and social challenges in B.C.
“The health and safety of our participants and spectators will always be our highest priority. While current guidelines for public gatherings preclude us from staging the parade this year, our hope is to return in 2021, when we can better ensure the health and safety of everyone involved.” the Vancouver Santa Claus Parade Society released in a statement on their website on Oct 29th
Other events associated with the parade are also canceled this year. These include Breakfast with Santa at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, Photos with Santa at TELUS Garden, and pre-parade entertainment in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Dates: Dates for 2021 TBD
Lights at Lafarge Lake
Lights at Lafarge Lake is one of the largest free light displays in Metro Vancouver, featuring more than 100,000 twinkling lights. The outdoor display will be a popular Vancouver event in November 2020 as it offers an outdoor activity. If you are wondering what to do in Vancouver in November and are looking for an outdoor activity, this is one you should add to your list.
Dates: TBD for 2021
Christmas in Wiliams Park (Langley)
Christmas in Williams Park transforms this popular langley park into a lighted wonderland. this FREE event for families offers a drive-through light experience thanks to the Christmas in Willams Park Society.
Where: 6525 238Th st, Langley
Dates: TBC for 2021
Is December a Good Time to Visit Vancouver?
December is considered the offseason to visit much of British Columbia. Generally, the local ski hills are not open until winter break (between Christmas and New Years) although Whistler Blackcomb opens in line with American Thanksgiving in November. The summer months are peak season to visit Vancouver, so if you want to visit without crowds or are visiting for Christmas, December is a good time to come into the city.
It rains 20 out of 30 days of the month, so make sure you plan for rain. While the city does not see much snow, the wet can be very uncomfortably cold, so ensure you have the right clothing.
Read More: 99 things to do in British Columbia
Does it snow in Vancouver in December?
As you will read below, snow is a rare sight in Vancouver and is usually only seen on higher elevations. With that being said, flakes do fall in the city on occasion. If you are looking for a white Christmas, Christmas in Vancouver is not the right choice (but nearby Whistler or other British Columbia ski resorts are perfect choices!)
Weather in Vancouver in December
Vancouver has a moderate climate for most of the year. It does not get the cold snowy weather that you will find in much of the rest of Canada, but it is important to plan for the elements just in case. There is a likely chance of snow in higher elevations in Metro Vancouver in December, and you are likely to see fresh snow on the mountains around the city (usually the first dusting comes in late October and early November).
Snow on the mountains likely means rain in the city. When planning a trip to Vancouver in December, ensure you are prepped for rain with a decent waterproof jacket and appropriate footwear. You will also want layers.
Get more information on Vancouver weather December with tips on what to pack, temperatures to expect and how likely you are to see wet weather or sunshine.
December in Vancouver: What to Pack
As mentioned above, it does not get extremely cold, but expect wet and cool weather, usually just above freezing. You will want to ensure you have warm, waterproof clothing including sweaters, hoodies, and a heavier jacket. Bring closed-toed shoes and some type of waterproof footwear. You will probably want a light pair of gloves and a hat. If you do not have a packable umbrella, I suggest you buy one.
More Monthly Events in Vancouver:
Things to do in Vancouver in February
Lindsay Nieminen is the creator of UncoveringBC.com. She grew up and still lives in the suburbs of Vancouver with her family. She aims to inspire inform, and educate others about traveling in her home province of British Columbia. She is also the creator of carpediemourway.com which aims to show parents how to seek out adventure at home or abroad, with their children in tow!