If you live nearby or are planning a visit to Vancouver in winter, there are plenty of holiday events and things to do in the city. Winter is not a typical time to visit for a holiday but there are plenty of things to do. While some events have changed over the last couple of years, there are still quite a few things to do and ways to enjoy Vancouver in the wintertime.
When it comes to booking hotels for Vancouver at Christmas, this is definitely something that you will want to plan ahead for. While Chrismas 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 things to do in Vancouver in the winter.
10 Things to do in Vancouver in Winter
1. 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 and is one of the most popular places to see Christmas lights in Vancouver. 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.
2. Fly Over Canada’s Seasonal Offerings
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 in the winter like this one. It is on our list of the best things to do in Vancouver for this reason!
LOCATION: 201 – 999 Canada Place, Vancouver BC
TICKETS: Book your tickets online in advance
3. Stanley Park Holiday Train
Welcoming over 200,000 visitors annually, the Stanley Park Railway is a popular thing to do in Vancouver in the winter for locals and tourists alike. Bright Nights at Stanely Park will run Nov 26th until Jan 1st. The 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.
Stanley Park Railway is adjacent to other popular destinations such as Lumberman’s Arch, Malkin Bowl, and the Rose Garden. Tickets are $10 for all ages (under 2 is free). They must be bought online in advance.
LOCATION: Stanley Park
4. Take a Hike (But Be Prepared!)
There are some popular winter trails in the North Shore mountains. Most of them are going to require snowshoes in the winter months. If you are new to winter hiking, take a look at Bowen Lookout, Eagle Bluffs or Hollyburn Peak on Cypress Mountain, Dog Mountain or Pump Peak on Mount Seymour.
Every year, dozens of unprepared hikers are reduced on the North Shore mountains. If you are going up, be prepared to get stuck in the snow (have water, warm clothes and snacks) and let someone know where you are going.
RELATED: Best snowshoeing in Vancouver
5. 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. It is one of the great ways to enjoy the outdoors in Vancouver in winter. 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 winter tradition for many Vancouver families, this is one of the popular events in Vancouver in the winter. Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge will again be open to visitors on December 1st 2022. 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.
LOCATION: 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver
6. 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 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.
7. Go ice-skating on Robson Square
Robson Square is in the heart of the downtown, buzzing with life in any season, and it has a free outdoor skating rink that’s set up from December to February. Bring your own skates or you can rent them on site!
8. Visit the Festival of Lights in VanDusen Botanical Garden
This is another event in Vancouver in late fall and early winter. It goes from late November until the end of December. While a botanical garden is not the typical choice for a winter visit, this one has Christmas-themed decoration, music and some tasty treats.
9. Visit Grouse Mountain
Special Christmas events are organized in Grouse Mountain from late November until early January. They includebreakfast with Santa or the Light Walk. If you have never been, Grouse offers stunning views of the city, especially at sunset! Book tickets in advance.
10. Visit Glow (in Langley)
A popular holiday activity for those who live in the Fraser Valley is Glow Gardens! We cannot wait to see what they have in store for 2022. Last season they created a drive-thru event!
11. Get into the Air
Take a Seaplane tour to see Vancouver and the stunning Vancouver Coastal Mountains on a scenic flight. Hop aboard your seaplane from Coal Harbour as you leave the tourist crowds in downtown Vancouver behind, as you glide above the city’s beautiful skyline and take in an aerial view of its Olympic facilities. This small-group flight, limited to just 14 guests.
Location: Vancouver Harbour Flight Centre Unit #1 – 1055 Canada Place,
Book in Advance: here
12. Take a Food Tour
The Legendary Gastown Food tour takes you through the cobbled stone streets of Vancouver’s oldest neighbourhood. Enjoy local craft beer, Japanese Karage style chicken, freshly made Sicilian Tortellini with local wine, battered fish with hand cut fries, tasty Carolina-style pulled pork BBQ sandwiches, organic smooth soft ice cream, creamy awarding-winning cheesecake, and delicious hand-made chocolates!
On this 2.5 hour walking food tour, professional improv comedy actors full of passion for the city and its food will share the fascinating and funny little-known stories about Vancouver and its “Wild West” history that dates back 150 years. Learn about Gassy Jack, Gastown’s notorious founder and the stories that him famous and put Vancouver on the map. This is one of the most popular things to do in Gastown!
Tickets: Buy your tickets online here
Location: Waterfront Station 601 W Cordova St
Related: Vancouver Waterfront Restaurants you will want to enjoy!
13. How about a Weekend Getaway?
There are plenty of weekend getaways from Vancouver. Click to link to read some of our favorites!
14. Book a Local Photographer
Have those memories last forever and book a local photoshoot. It is super easy to book online in advance (and sometimes even last minute)! If you believe that memories make the best souvenirs, then book a photo shoot before your trip! If you use the code LINDSAY you will get $25 off your booking as well!
Vancouver Winter 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. Vancouver’s winter temperature is around 4-5°C (38-41°F), but there’s an average of 20 rainy days in a month between November and February.
There is a likely chance of snow in higher elevations in Metro Vancouver in the winter months and sometimes even in November. 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 in Winter
- Bring waterproof footwear
- Bring a waterproof coat
- Gloves and a Toque
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!