Snowy night
December 11, 2017
3 mins read

6 things to do over the holidays in Vancouver

If you’re staying in Vancouver this December, there are lots of fun events happening that you can check out and festive places to explore.

I have failed pretty miserably at making the last few holiday seasons memorable. That’s why this year, I’m going to be checking out these events and places to visit - to make the most out of this time of year. 

Christmas at Canada Place

Why you should go

Experience a part of Vancouver’s past, resurrected.


If you didn’t know (I definitely didn’t), there used to be a department store in Vancouver called Woodwards which was famous for its elaborate Christmas window displays. When it closed in the 90s, Canada Place purchased the displays and continues to show them every year. Bring your camera and head to Canada Place to see the windows for yourself. Plus, check out their avenue of decorated trees, and other light displays.

  • When: Open now until December 31st, 8 am to 11 pm (closes at 6 pm on Dec 31st)

  • Price: Free

  • Where: Canada Place

More info

VanDusen Festival of Lights

Why you should go

The Festival of Lights is a Vancouver classic.


Yes, this one's a bit on the more expensive side, but if you’re going to treat yourself this December, then I recommend spending a little extra on this time-honoured Vancouver experience. Over one million lights transform the VanDusen Botanical Garden into a winter wonderland. Pro-tip: not only is this event ideal for a first (or 10th) date, it’s also the perfect backdrop for your Obligatory Annual Holiday Instagram Post (OAHIP). More info

Find tickets

Visit Granville Island

Why you should go

You’ve probably heard that you should visit Granville Island at least once, and winter is the perfect time.


Granville Island is one of the most prominent Arts and Culture hubs in the city. Located underneath the Granville Street bridge, and surrounded by water (hence, island), this locale is home to the Granville Island Public Market, a warehouse-style building filled with some of the most delicious food and the best variety of arts and crafts you can find. Check it out to tick some Christmas shopping off your list - the market is filled to the brim with local artisans and speciality food makers. Purchasing things on the island tends to run on the pricey side, but it’s also a great way to spend a free day outside, enjoying the performers located all around the pedestrian-friendly island - just don’t forget to dress warmly!

  • When: Anytime

  • Price: Free (or as much as you want to spend on food, goods, and gifts)

  • Where: Granville Island

Find out more

Bright Nights in Stanley Park

Why you should go

Christmas Train!


Need I say more? If you’re from Vancouver, the lights at Stanley Park are probably a prominent feature in your childhood memories. I mean, who could experience that train ride and not believe that magic is real? Luckily, the lights and train have returned to the park for their 20th year. Book ahead if you want to splurge on a train ride, as this event is a super popular one.

  • When: Open now until Dec 22nd from 4 - 9 pm, and the 23rd and 24th from 1 - 9 pm

  • Price: Suggested donation of $5 to view the lights, or $12 to ride the train

  • Where: Stanley Park

Buy tickets for the train

Vancouver Christmas Market

Why you should go

A delightful way to spend a Winter day.


If you find yourself with a full day or evening free and a few friends to spend it with, the Vancouver Christmas Market is a great place to visit. Under the glow of the Olympic Cauldron, visit over 75 vendors of authentic German Christmas goodies, and enjoy activities like a festive Carousel and live music. This is a good place to pick up some gifts for friends and family and enjoy some warm, festive drinks.

  • When: Open now until Dec 24th, 11 am to 9 pm daily (closes at 6 pm on Dec 24th)

  • Price: $10 online (includes Season Pass) or $10 plus $1 for Season Pass if you buy at the gate

  • Where: Canada Place

Buy tickets

Skating at Robson Square

Why you should go

Outdoor skating is a quintessential Canadian winter experience.


Robson Square skating is back for its 9th year with free skating in the heart of downtown. Dress in your warmest mittens and hat and enjoy this freezing-cold-yet-heartwarming winter experience.

  • When: Everyday until February 28th, 2018, 9 am - 9 pm Sunday to Thursday, and 9 am - 11 pm Friday & Saturday

  • Price: Free + $4 for skate rental

  • Where: Robson Square

Get the details

It’s easy to stay inside during the winter and catch up on Netflix, but putting the effort into going out with friends and family is worth it - it makes for much more meaningful memories and fun stories to tell.

Winter on campus