24 Things to do in Vancouver in December (2023)

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.

If you are wondering what to do in Vancouver in December you will not be disappointed. It is the best time of year to get into the city and enjoy the holiday magic. Browse the various seasonal Vancouver events below!

Vancouver Travel Resources for 2024

If you are from out of town these resources should be helpful for your trip to Vancouver!

RENTAL CAR: You want to rent one in advance and grab it at the airport. Start with a rental car comparison company like this one.

LOCAL TOURS: Looking for the perfect city tour, whale watching tour, bus tour, or brewery tour (these are awesome) Start with Get Your Guide and Viator Tours.

BOOK A PHOTOSHOOT: Capture those memories! Book a romantic or family photoshoot while on holiday! Click Here to find a local photographer. Use code LINDSAY to save $25 off your first photoshoot!

HOTELS: Find the best hotel selection on booking.comor hostelworld.com

CRUISING? If you are cruising from Vancouver or even considering it in the future, find information and cruise reviews on cruisecritic.com

INSURANCE: Medical care in Canada is very expensive. Make sure you come to Canada with proper emergency medical coverage. We suggest checking out policies with World Nomads.

PACKING TIPS:

Vancouver Tree Lighting

Back for another sparkling year, the in-person kick-off party for the city’s official Christmas tree––a shimmering, 75-feet-tall cone of 100,000 lights and fake foliage that’s just crying out for selfies––is a family-friendly live event and one of Vancouver’s most popular Christmas events. Sprinkled with festive cheer and toe-tapping live music (as well as gratis hot cocoa) Santa will also be on hand to offer his official seal of approval. And if you miss the big launch, don’t forget to beeline this way sometime over the holidays to enjoy the twinkling spectacle.

Date: Dec 1st 2023

Location: Vancouver Art Gallery North Plaza

Vancouver Christmas Market

The famous Vancouver Christmas Market is one of th ebst places in the city to get a feel for European Christmas. 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 if you are in the city for the holiday or are looking for gifts for loved ones.

Dates: daily until Dec 24th

Location: Jack Poole Plaza, 1055 Canada Place Vancouver

Prices: Tickets start at $15.99 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.

VanDusen Botanical Garden Festival of Lights Vancouver

One of the most well-known outdoor activities and one of the best Vancouver Christmas lights is the elaborate Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden. Explore 15 acres adorned with over 1 million twinkling lights, featuring a glowing display inspired by the vibrant colours and unique plants and animals from BC’s endangered Garry oak meadows. Enjoy holiday music and themed areas throughout the gardens.

Location: 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver

Dates: Nov 24th 2023 to Jan 7th 2024

Tickets for Vandusen Festival of Lights: Online in advance

Christmas in Willams Park

Williams Park is a popular drive thru Christmas Lights attraction.

Location: Williams Park, 238 Street & 68 Avenue, Langley

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

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

Fly over Canada Vancouver Things to do

Cirque de Soleil: Kooza

KOOZA is an innovative journey viewed through the perspective of The Innocent, an endearing yet naïve clown looking for his place in the world. A mystery item is delivered to The Innocent one day when he is flying his kite. The self-discovery journey of The Innocent, who is miraculously transferred to a bizarre but exotic world, is followed in KOOZA under the watchful eye of an enigmatic trickster with remarkable abilities.

The show is the perfect December event to attend. It is set in an electrifying and exotic visual world full of surprises, thrills, chills, audacity and total involvement.

Dates: Daily (except Mondays)

Location: Concord Pacific Place

PNE Winter Fair

Come and celebrate winter, PNE-style. Visit Discover Santa where you can embark on the ultimate journey to meet Santa Claus by solving puzzles and cracking riddles, ride the PNE Holiday Express, and wander through Winter Lights presented by BC Hydro – a great place to snap a photo! –  and go skating – or try the Ice Bumper Cars – at the Tim Hortons Ice Rink, and then warm up with hot chocolate and the culinary extravaganza at the Holiday Eats & Treats.

When you’re ready for a break, you can enjoy live programming like Nutcracker on Ice and the Magic of Santa.

Dates: Dec 8, 9 and 14th – 23rd 4pm – 10pm

Tickets: Online or at the gate

Prices (in advance): Adults $25, Senior $19, Youth $19, Child $12

Christmas Glow in Langley

It is the largest and brightest holiday event of the season, and this year, Glow Langley is returning this November. 2023 features a Christmas Carnival with heated and covered spaces, free carnival-themed games, towering carnival-themed lights, a craft corner in a “tent of makers”, along with the much-loved magical holiday landscapes, all under the thrill of more than a million lights that continue to impress guests.

There is a Merry Makers Market, with more than twenty local vendors, a new interactive kids scavenger hunt, live holiday performances, a holiday train ride, pictures with Santa, and interactive play zones.

To decrease crowding, entry to the event is staggered, and time slots are provided to guests so that everyone can enjoy the event more comfortably.

Dates: November 23 – December 30/2023

Tickets: Early Bird Tickets go on sale September 25th

Prices: Adult $19.99 Child (4-12) $14.99 Senior (65+) $14.99 Family ( 2 Adults + 3 Child/Senior) $69.99

Parking: FREE

Location: 6690 216th St, Langley

Christmas light display at glow langley
Glow Langley proudly presents its dazzling “Christmas Carnival” theme, turning the holiday season into a realm of wonder. Photo by Lindsay Nieminen

Shop on Robson Street

In its prime area roughly between Burrard and Jervis Street, Robson Street has every store that you could desire for your fashion wants and holiday shopping. All the major national and international chain stores are located here, from more casual and athletic wear companies such as to well-known clothing retailers. Popular footwear retailers, lingerie and beauty products are all here. You can also pick up some popular Vancouver souvenirs and things you can only get in Canada at souvenir shops Grand Maple Gift and Canadian Crafts on Robson.

Another great place to shop is on Granville Island.

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, 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 is one of the best places to enjoy the nature of the outdoors.

Dates: November 17, 2023 – January 21, 2024

Tickets: ONLINE HERE

Location: 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver

Skate at Robson Square

Since 2010, Robson Square ice rink has been open each December and through the winter months, for locals and visitors to skate! It is located between Howe and Hornby Streets behind the Vancouver Art Gallery and is one of the most popular ice skating rinks in Vancouver during the holidays. The ice skating rink is in the middle of the square. The rink is open-air, but also covered and partly underground. It is perfect for those who like winter sports. They have skate rentals and you can bring your own skates.

Location: 800 Robson Street, Vancouver, V6Z 2E7

More Info: Robson Square Ice rink

Bright Nights at Stanley Park This December

Welcoming over 200,000 visitors annually, the Stanley Park Railway is one of the popular Christmas activities in Vancouver with locals and tourists alike. Bright Nights and Stanley Park Holiday train is back for the 2023 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. Even if you cannot get tickets for the train ride, this is still one of the most popular places to enjoy Christmas lights in Vancouver.

This event is a fundraiser for the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund and runs the entire month of December.

Location: Stanley Park, 690 Pipeline Road, Vancouver

Dates: Nov 30th 2023 – Jan 1st 2024

More Info: https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/bright-nights-train.aspx

Ski at The Local Mountains

A Vancouverite pastime, skiing on the local mountains is what so many adults remember about growing up in Vancouver. It is also the perfect place for kids to learn to ski!

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 on the same day.

Mount Seymour is the closest to downtown Vancouver. has 4 chair lifts, 5 terrain parks, a tube park, snowshoeing, and a toboggan area. It has 40 marked runs, about half of which are available for night skiing.

Cypress Mountain 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.

RELATED: Best snowshoeing in Vancouver

Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum

Come experience Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum this December. Enjoy the special atmosphere of festive lights and traditional decorations. Wander the museum’s 10-acre venue and take in all the seasonal entertainment, demonstrations, and activities.

Enjoy a meal or treat at the new Mai’s Cafe, formerly the Ice Cream Parlour, or other offerings from food trucks. On December 2nd from 5-9 PM there will be a special tree lighting event!

Gate admission is free. Carousel rides are $2.52

Dates: Nov 25th 2023 – Jan 5th 2024

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 is very popular each holiday season

Dates: daily in December

Read More: things to do in Harrison Hot Springs

Light Walk at Grouse Mountain

Experience magic in the trees on our enchanting Light Walk, open through the winter season starting at dusk. The entrance is marked by a glowing light tunnel, just off of the mountaintop Skating Pond. 

Lights along the path around Blue Grouse Lake allow you to snowshoe or walk in the winter night. Marvel at the beauty with snow crunching underfoot. The glow of light against a majestic mountain backdrop is not to be missed!

Dates: TBD for 2023

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. This year’s Lights at Lafarge Kick-off event will take place on Friday, Nov 24th, 2023 from 5 – 8 p.m. at Town Centre Park, featuring food vendors, arts activities, and live entertainment. 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: daily in December

Location: Lafarge Lake at Town Centre Park, 1299 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam.

Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum

Come experience Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum. Enjoy the special atmosphere of festive lights and traditional decorations. Wander the museum’s 10-acre venue and take in all the seasonal entertainment, demonstrations, and activities.

Enjoy a meal or treat at the new Mai’s Cafe, formerly the Ice Cream Parlour, or other offerings from food trucks. On December 2nd from 5-9 PM there will be a special tree lighting event!

Gate admission is free. Carousel rides are $2.52

Dates: daily in December

Bear Creek Park Lights in Surrey

Bear Creek Park Lights offers a safe, fun family-friendly evening event. Have a great time as you enjoy the trails of the park gardens and be dazzled by a series of illuminated natural landscapes and whimsical light displays.

Dates: November 3 – 17, 2023 from 4:30 – 9:00 pm (except November 11th)

Location: Bear Creek Park, 13750 – 88 Avenue, Surrey

Is December a Good Time to Visit Vancouver

December is considered the offseason to visit much of British Columbia but that does not mean you should not visit Vancouver in the winter. It is a festive time of year, one in which you can catch annual events like the Nutcracker across much of BC. 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.

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.

Things to do in Vancouver by Month

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Things to do in Vancouver in February

Things to do in Vancouver in March

Things to do in Vancouver in April

Things to do in Vancouver in May

Things to do in Vancouver in September

Things to do in Vancouver in October

Things to do in Vancouver in November

Things to do in Vancouver at Christmas

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