15 Ways to Celebrate Christmas in Vancouver

Whether you live nearby or are planning to spend Christmas in Vancouver there are plenty of holiday events and things to do.

When it comes to booking hotels for Vancouver at Christmas, this is definitely something that you will want to plan ahead for. While Christmas in Vancouver is not high season, if you want the best choices or are picky on location, do your research in advance!

By the end of this post, you will have quite a few ideas for a Vancouver Christmas stay or information on all of the events going on in the city!

Don’t have time to read this Vancouver Christmas article right now? Pin it for later.

Vancouver Christmas events and how to plan a trip.

Vancouver at Christmas Summary

If you are short on time but do not want to miss the big picture, here is a quick summary of Vancouver Christmas events:

Where to Stay:

Vancouver Christmas Events that should be booked in advance:

  • Fly Over Canada Seasonal Productions (book here)
  • Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge (book here)

Popular Vancouver Christmas Events

Vancouver Santa Claus Parade

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

Christmas Glow (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.

Enjoy shopping at the 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

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 2023 is Carnival Themed. Photo by Lindsay Nieminen

Enjoy Afternoon Tea at Fairmont

A truly festive Christmas Afternoon Tea awaits at Fairmont Hotel Vancouver held in the fairytale Pacific Ballroom. Available only on December 23 and 24, guests will enjoy a festive tea offering while enjoying classical holiday melodies performed live on-stage. Guests will also be surprised and delighted with a pop-up performance by Ballet BC Annex dancers and a photo opportunity for all who attend. Reservations can be made online.

Dates: December 23rd and 24th 2023

Location: Pacific Ballroom, Fairmont Vancouver 900 W Georgia St, Vancouver

PNE Winter Fair

This event runs on select dates in December 2023. More info to come.

VanDusen Festival of Lights

The event runs from late November until January 2nd this season.

At the event there are hundreds of thousands of sparkling Christmas lights and other fun stuff! It’s one of our favourite places for getting into a festive Christmas spirit! In normal years, the attraction also offers carousel rides and visits with Santa. More info for 2023 coming soon.

FlyOver Canada’s Fly Like Santa

Fly like Santa this Christmas on a magical flight across Canada from FlyOver Canada. After meeting some of Santa’s elves, Chestnut and Pinecone, you’ll join them as they take flight across Canada looking for their fellow elves. You may even get a sneak peek of Santa’s Workshop as you soar over the North Pole

Fly Over Canada is offered all year round with holiday seasonal specials like this one. It is on our list of the best things to do in Vancouver for this reason!

FLYOVER CANADA FLY LIKE SANTA IMPORTANT INFORMATION

TICKETS: Book your tickets online in advance

DATES: Nov 19th – Jan 3rd

LOCATION: 201 – 999 Canada Place, Vancouver BC

IMPORTANT NOTES: Check-in at the Fly over Canada booth before proceeding along Canada Place’s waterfront to the entrance. The queue is partially exposed to the elements. Dress for the weather.

Fly over Canada Vancouver Things to do

Fly Over Canada Legendary Iceland

Take off on an exhilarating flying ride that lets you soar, dive and dip through incredible Icelandic landscapes. From towering peaks and stunning fjords to untouched tundra and wildflower meadows, join us on an otherworldly journey aboard Legendary Iceland — only at FlyOver Canada for a limited time.

If you have never seen Fly Over Canada, then you are going to want to take a ride on that as well! During the Ultimate Flying Ride, you will see numerous cities and vistas across the country.

Tickets: Online

Dates: Now until Dec 14th

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 holiday 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. This is one of the popular annual Christmas events in Vancouver. Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge will again be open to visitors on December 1st. 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.

Read More: places to see Christmas lights in Vancouver.

CANYON LIGHTS AT CAPILANO SUSPENSION BRIDGE IMPORTANT INFORMATION

TICKETS: Book your tickets in advance.

DATES: December 1 – Sunday, January 3rd 2:00pm – 9:00pm daily (closed December 25)

LOCATION: 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver

IMPORTANT NOTES: Strollers are not allowed. Dress for the outdoors.

Vancouver Capilano Suspension Bridge
Canyon Lights is a popular festive activity leading up to the holidays in Vancouver. Explore the rainforest and see the tallest Christmas Trees in Canada. Photo Credit: Tourism Vancouver / Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

Stanley Park Holiday Train

Welcoming over 200,000 visitors annually, the Stanley Park Railway is popular with locals and tourists alike. 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.

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.

VANCOUVER CHRISTMAS TRAIN AT STANLEY PARK IMPORTANT INFORMATION

TICKETS: they must be bought online in advance

DATES:  Nov 30th 2023 – Jan 1st 2024

LOCATION: Stanley Park, 690 Pipeline Road, Vancouver

IMPORTANT NOTES: Dress for the weather and expect a short wait. Get into the line at your departure time.

Ski at The Local Mountains

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 nigth skiing.

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.

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.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION

TICKETS: coming soon for the winter season 2023

DATES:

LOCATION:

IMPORTANT NOTES:

Vancouver from Grouse Mountain

Enjoy a Festive Holiday Suite

If you are looking for a festive treat, look no further than the holiday suite in the Jade suite at Vancouver Airport’s Fairmont Hotel. With cookies to decorate, perfect planespotting views, games and books, there is no shortage of things to do this holiday season when you book a room at the Fairmont YVR. They are one of our favorite hotels in Vancouver with jacuzzi tubs!

YVR Holiday Suite at the Fairmont.

Vancouver Christmas Market

The famous Vancouver Christmas Market starts in November and features a German-inspired Christmas Market. For those who like a jump on the holiday season, it creates the perfect atmosphere to get into the holiday spirit. 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.

Vallea Lumina (Whistler)

Legends speak of a long-lost trail that leads to a secret valley. Join a twilight expedition to explore its mysterious beauty. Just 10 minutes drive north of Whistler village, experience a range of activities from TAG Whistler. Vallea Lumina is a sound and light experience that takes you through the forest, telling a story along the way.

The winter experience runs from November to April each season.

IMPORTANT INFORMATION FOR VALLEA LUMINA

TICKETS: coming soon for the winter season 2023

DATES: Winter season 2023-24

LOCATION: TAG Whistler at Cougar Mountain (10 minutes North of Whistler) Sixteen Mile Creek Forest Service Road, Whistler, BC, V0N 1B8

PRICING: Adult $49.99 Child $44.99 (5 and under are free)

WHAT TO WEAR: Full snow gear is recommended for kids. Dress in layers with warm coats, gloves and hats. Snow boots are recommended for walking on snow.

IMPORTANT NOTES: Strollers and sleds are not permitted. There are stairs to walk down at the beginning and a bridge to cross. Those with young children should wear them in a carrier. The walk is about 30 minutes but you can go as fast or as slow as you want. Pets are not permitted.

Vancouver Christmas Weather

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

What to Pack for Vancouver at Christmastime

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.

If you are visiting Vancouver for more than just the holiday season, check out this article on Vancouver in winter to get more activities to do all winter long!

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