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November 30, 2018
3 mins read

7 things to do over the holidays in Vancouver

The time after classes end and before the start of the second term is the perfect opportunity to explore what Vancouver has to offer over the holidays. Resist the urge to retreat into a Netflix cocoon by checking out these fun and festive holiday events and locations.

Vancouver Christmas Market

Why you should go

Enjoy authentic German sweets and treats at this classic market!


I highly recommend visiting this one at night. Under the glow of the Olympic Cauldron and the lights of the Carousel, explore authentic German crafts and delicious food. There’s over 75 vendors, so you can check some gifts off your list as you walk around. Pro-tip: if you don’t mind going on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, grab a Groupon while you can for a pass package that includes 2 admissions, 2 carousel rides, a pair of mugs, and delicious cider! Otherwise, you can purchase tickets at the link below.

  • When: Now - Dec 24 | 11:00 am - 9:30 pm (closes at 6:00 pm on Dec 24)

  • Price: $10 online (includes Season Pass) or $12 plus $1 for Season Pass if you buy at the gate

  • Where: Canada Place

Buy tickets

Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park

Why you should go

You can ride a lovely train through hundreds of twinkling lights!


For this one, you have 2 options: view the lights by donation or ride the train for $12. The Christmas Train includes a trip through the forest, holiday music, breathtaking displays, and live performers. Plus, donations and a portion of ticket sales go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.

  • When: Now - Jan 5 (closed Dec 25) | hours vary

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

  • Where: Stanley Park

Buy tickets for the train

VanDusen Festival of Lights

Why you should go

This one is perfect for a romantic date or a fun night with friends.


This Vancouver event is a classic. The VanDusen Botanical Garden is stunning on its own, and a great place to visit any day of the year. During the holidays, it is completely transformed with over a million twinkling lights, becoming a dazzling wonderland and the perfect backdrop for photos. With your ticket, you’ll also get a free ride on a carousel, a chance to take photos with Santa, and more. They also have delicious food and drinks, and cozy fire pits to huddle around. More info.

  • When: Now - Jan 6 (closed Dec 25) | 4:30 - 9:00 pm, open until 10:00 pm Dec 21 - Jan 1

  • Price: $18.50 online, $20 at the gate

  • Where: VanDusen Botanical Gardens

Get tickets

Skating at Robson Square

Why you should go

It’s free if you bring your own skates!


Almost every holiday movie, book, or jigsaw puzzle includes a scene of ice-skaters on a frozen lake. While we don’t have any frozen lakes to skate on in downtown Vancouver, we do have the next best thing: an outdoor ice rink that lets you skate below the streets of downtown!

  • When: Now - Feb 28, 2019 | 9:00 am - 9:00 pm Sun to Thu; 9:00 am - 11:00 pm Fri & Sat (check link below for hours between Dec 24 and Jan 1)

  • Price: Free + $5 for skate rental

  • Where: Robson Square

Find out more

Grand Menorah Lighting

Why you should go

Witness Canada’s tallest Menorah right here in Vancouver!


Chanukah is pretty early this year—it starts on Dec 2 and ends on Dec 10. Join Vancouver’s Jewish community halfway through the festivities at the lighting of the Silber Family Agam Menorah, the tallest one in Canada! There will also be live music, a fire juggling show (!!!!), and delicious latkes, hot chocolate, and donuts.

Get the details

Christmas at Canada Place

Why you should go

Experience a part of Vancouver’s past, resurrected.


When a department store called Woodwards closed in the 90s, Canada Place purchased their famous holiday window displays, which they continue to show 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. You can also enter to win a trip for two to the Yukon by following the instructions provided at the link below!

  • When: Dec 7 - Jan 3, 2019 | 8:00 am - 11:00 pm (closes at 6:00 pm on Dec 31)

  • Price: Free

  • Where: Canada Place

More info

Make It Vancouver!

Why you should go

With 215 crafty vendors, this event is fun just to walk through, even if you don’t end up buying anything.


Craft fairs are tons of fun. With lots of homemade goodies like clothing, art, home decor, bookmarks, and more, all by small businesses, you’ll definitely find some fun gifts for friends, family, or yourself! Plus, there will be delicious food trucks and, if you’re 19+, a beer garden if you feel like a cold one on a cold day. Visit the market any day for all the vendors, or check it out Wednesday night for a 19+ evening of entertainment, prizes, and a venue-wide liquor license (protip: avoid the Wednesday night if you have an exam the next day). 

  • When: Wed, Dec 12 | 5:00 - 9:00 pm

    Thu, Dec 13 - Fri, Dec 14 | 11:00 am - 9:00 pm

    Sat, Dec 15 | 10:00 am - 6:00 pm

    Sun, Dec 16 | 11:00 am - 5:00 pm

  • Price: $4 plus fees online, $8 at the door

  • Where: PNE Forum

Buy tickets