50 Delightfully Fun Holiday Events to Check Out in Vancouver

Festive (Christmas lights! Carolling duels!) and some not-so-festive (a Mad Max and Wizard of Oz mash-up?) things to do this season.

November 29, 2017

By Jessica Wallin


1. Vancouver Christmas Market

November 22 to December 24

Vancouver’s own German style Christmas Market is back! With delicious German treats, performances on a flying stage, trivia nights and plenty of vendors, you’ll be as twisty as a pretzel trying to take it all in. December 6 is a special date night, where sweethearts can enjoy tastings for two and have a chance to win a romantic Victoria getaway.

When: November 22 to December 24
Where: Jack Poole Plaza, 1055 Canada Place (site of the Olympic Cauldron)
Price: $5 to $50
More info: Vancouver Christmas Market


2. VanDusen Festival of Lights

November 23 to December 31

Take a stroll through the winter wonderland that is the VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights. The 55-acre garden will be filled with over a million dazzling lights, fun displays, hot beverages and the chance to ride a carousel.

When: November 23 to December 31
Where: VanDusen Botanical Garden, 5151 Oak Street
Price: $8.50 to $15.50
More info: VanDusen Festival of Lights


3. Christmas at Canada Place

November 23 to December 31

In the 1960s, Woodwards would create beautiful wooden window installations of classic holiday scenes, from Santa’s Workshop to The Lamplighter (not the bar, but the old-timey profession). Christmas at Canada Place has brought back these historic installations as well as musical performances, crafts, an avenue of Christmas trees and more.

When: November 23 to December 31
Where: Canada Place
Price: $6 to $12
More info: Canada Place

(Photo: David Cooper.)

4. Onegin

November 23 to December 31

Based on the famous poem by Pushkin and opera by Tchaikovsky, Onegin is a new musical by local geniuses Veda Hille and Amiel Gladstone. Presented by the Arts Club, Onegin follows the story of Evgeni Onegin as he incites passions while visiting his family estate. Expect romance, jealousy, tragic duels, beautiful sets and even a killer guitar solo.

When: November 23 to December 31
Where: Granville Island Stage, 2750 Granville Street
Price: $29 to $49
More info: The Arts Club


5. Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge

November 23 to January 28

Majestic old growth trees, reaching over 100 feet in height, at the Capilano Suspension bridge have been dramatically lit and decorated as part of Canyon Lights, a winter lights festival. Visitors to the festival can expect enchanting trails, tree top adventures and even a Snowy Owl Prowl.

When: November 23 to January 28
Where: Capilano Suspension Bridge, 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver
Price: $15 to $43
More info: Canyon Lights

(Photo: Evaan Kheraj.)

6. Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain

November 24 to January 7

Sleigh rides, a gingerbread village, Santa’s workshop, a skating pond and more await at the Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain! Entry is part of all regular admissions or a family pass can be bought for the day.

When: November 24 to January 7
Where: Grouse Mountain, 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver
Price: Included with mountain pass or $89.95 for family admission
More info: Grouse Mountain


7. Holiday Traditions at the Vancouver Aquarium

November 24 to January 7

Forget chimneys, Santa makes deep sea deliveries! Scuba Santa, a jellyfish snow globe, eel-ectric light displays and more are taking place during Holiday Traditions at the Vancouver Aquarium. Now even the sea cucumbers can celebrate this holiday season.

When: November 24 to January 7
Where: Vancouver Aquarium, 845 Avison Way
Price: $22 to $40
More info: Vancouver Aquarium


8. Sea to Sky Gondola: Spirit of Christmas

November 24 to January 7

With fondue, decorated forest walks, choir concerts and pancakes with Santa, there are plenty of reasons to head up the Sea to Sky Gondola for the Spirit of Christmas. On Saturdays, join a small group on headlamp hike to enjoy the fresh winter wilderness.

When: November 24 to January 7
Where: Sea to Sky Gondola, 6800 BC-99, Squamish
Price: $14 to $40
More info: Sea to Sky


9. East Van Panto: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves

November 29 to January 6

Presented by Theatre Replacement and The Cultch, East Van Panto: Snow White and the Seven Dwarves turns the classic fairy tale on its head for a delightful holiday tradition. Panto is short for pantomime, a theatrical experience that encourages audience participation and musical satire perfect for both children and the young at heart.

When: November 29 to January 6
Where: The York Theatre, 639 Commercial Drive
Price: $22 to $56, family packs available
More info: The Cultch


10. Friends of the VPL: Christmas Used Book Sale

November 30 to December 2

Whether you’re looking for a gift for your literary friend or a book to cuddle up with on a winter’s night, the Vancouver Public Library’s Christmas Used Book Sale is a great place to start. On sale are children’s and adult books, DVDs and more with all proceeds going to support the library’s programs.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch, 350 West Georgia Street
Price: Free
More info: VPL


11. CBC Open House and Food Bank Day

December 1

CBC/Radio Canada is offering you the chance to attend live broadcasts with special musical guests and take a tour of their newsroom and studios as part of CBC Open House and Food Bank Day. You can even try your hand at being a weather presenter on set! Donations to the Food Bank can be made online or in person on the day of the event.

When: 6 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Where: CBC Vancouver Broadcast Centre, 700 Hamilton Street
Price: By donation
More info: CBC


12. Harry Potter: A Triwizard Tournament

December 1

Put your magic skills to the test at the Vancouver Public Library’s event Harry Potter: A Triwizard Tournament. Participating teens (sorry adults, seems the owls ate our invitations) can wander the library—it will be turned into the Hogwarts Great Hall. Costumes encouraged!

When: 3 to 5 p.m.
Where: Vancouver Public Library, Central Branch, 350 W. Georgia Street
Price: Free admission, registration required
More info: VPL


13. Toque Fundraiser and Craft Fair

December 1 to 3

A curated treasure trove of gifts made by artists and designers, Toque is the Western Front’s annual fundraiser and craft fair. This year’s fair includes vendors Easy Tiger Spa, Explorer’s Press, and Forest and Waves as well as a back-deck barbeque.

When: December 1 to 3
Where: Western Front, 303 East 8th Avenue
Price: By donation
More info: Toque


14. Ice Skating at Robson Square

December 1 to February 2018

Just down the stairs from the Vancouver Art Gallery is the Ice Rink at Robson Square, an adorable and festive ice rink for all ages and abilities. Admission is free and skate rentals are available for a small fee.

When: December 1 to February 2018
Where: Robson Ice Rink, 800 Robson Street
Price: Free admission, rentals available
More info: Robson Square


15. Elf at Cineplex Theatres

December 2

Perhaps Will Ferrell at his finest, Elf will be playing at Cineplex Theatres across the province on December 2 for just $2.99.

When: 11 a.m.
Where: Multiple Cineplex theatres
Price: $2.99
More info: Cineplex


16. Winter Wreath Workshop

December 2

Make your own beautiful wreath at the UBC Botanical Garden! Participants can bring their own clippings if preferred, but if you’d rather buy the handiwork of a Friend of the Garden, wreaths will be for sale in the Garden Shop for the month of December.

When: 9 a.m. to 12 p.m.
Where: UBC Botanical Garden, 6804 SW Marine Drive
Price: $65
More info: UBC Botanical Garden


17. The Mint Records Ridiculously Early Xmas Party

December 2

Want to dance the night away with some of the friendliest and most fun musicians in town? The Mint Records Ridiculously Early Xmas Party features Woolworm, Needles//Pins, Jay Arner, Supermoon and Kellariss, as well as carol singing between acts. The first 50 people in the door will receive a gift bag with treasures from a variety of record stores. Proceeds will support organizations such as Girls Rock Camp Vancouver and the Downtown Eastside Women’s Centre.

When: 8:00 p.m.
Where: The Astoria, 769 E Hastings Street
Price: $10 to $12
More info: Mint Records


18. Peter and the Wolf

December 2

Relive the joy of this Prokofiev’s classic Peter and the Wolf, told through narration and illustrated by the UBC Symphony Orchestra with each character of the story “played” by a different musical instrument and melody. Fun of the whole family, this production will be narrated by UBC’s own festively named president, Santa Ono.

When: 8 to 10 p.m.
Where: Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, 6265 Crescent Road
Price: $8
More info: UBC Symphony Orchestra


19. Annual Aboriginal Craft Fair

December 2 to 3

Join the Aboriginal Friendship Centre Society for their annual Aboriginal Craft Fair! The fair will feature an array of traditional and contemporary works and tasty treats such as smoked salmon and bannock.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Aboriginal Friendship Centre, 1607 E Hastings Street
Price: By donation
More info: VAFCS


20. Lumiere Festival

December 2 to 9

For one week, Lumiere Festival will fill Vancouver with dazzling light installations, dance parties and community performances. Of note is a giant outdoor dance party by Pary4health, a pop-up ping pong party by Frida and Frank, and “The Limitations of Words to Describe Feelings,” a huge glowing vision board created by Jamie Hughes on which visitors are invited to share their thoughts and memories.

When: December 2 to 9
Where: West End, English Bay, Jim Devan Plaza
Price: Free
More info: Lumiere YVR


21. Icelandic Bake and Craft Sale

December 3

Enjoy the baking, crafts and dotted Os of Iceland at the Icelandic Bake and Craft Sale, hosted by the Icelandic Canadian Club of British Columbia. Crafts including wooden toys and flower plants will be for sale in the morning, followed by a bake sale that features vinaterta (multi-layered cake) and whole or half legs of hangikjö (triple-smoked lamb).

When: 9 a.m. to 12:30 p.m.
Where: Scandinavian Community Centre, 6540 Thomas Street, Burnaby
Price: Free
More info: Facebook


22. Philosophy of Love Art Night and Film Screening

December 4

What is love? Find out for yourself at the Philosophy of Love Art Night and Film Screening. Enjoy the video-poetry of Ray Briggs and Swoon, followed by the screening of What is Love? by photo artist Angela Fama, exploring the varied experiences of love as people from across the U.S. and Canada define what love means to them.

When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: The Fox Cabaret, 2321 Main Street
Price: Free, registration required
More info: Metaphysics of Love


23. Holiday Lights Walking Tours

December 5, 13 and 20

Join the Downtown Vancouver BIA for free Holiday Lights Walking Tours of the beautiful light displays around downtown Vancouver. Stops include the St. Paul’s Hospital Lights of Hope; walkers can also enjoy complimentary hot beverages from Trees Organic.

When: 4:30 p.m. to 6:00 p.m.
Where: Lot 19, 855 W Hastings Street
Price: Free, registration required
More info: Downtown Vancouver


24. Yule Duel

December 7

Head down to Gastown where dozens of choirs will duel in the most warm-hearted competition of the holiday season, the Yule Duel. Choirs will compete in sing-offs judged by celebrity judges with all proceeds going to May’s Place Hospice in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.

When: 6 to 9 p.m.
Where: Water Street, Gastown
Price: By donation
More info: Yule Duel


25. Talent Time: 10th Annual Xmas Special

December 7

A hilarious, ridiculous and always surprising talent show, Paul Anthony’s Talent Time: 10th Annual Xmas Special will feature especially festive acts. Co-hosted by Ryan Beil, the show will include stand-up by Charles Demers, joyous choirs, an indoor snow machine, miracles, a John Lennon impersonation and more!

When: 8:00p.m.
Where: The Rio, 660 E Broadway
Price: $10 to $12
More info: The Rio


26. Night Shift: Supernatural Vibes

December 7

Celebrating Northwest Coast matriarch voices and women’s stories and talents, Supernatural Vibes is an all-female lineup of Indigenous spoken word and hip-hop performers. Curated by emcee Suzette Amaya, this instalment of the Museum of Anthropology’s Night Shift series features artists such JB the First Lady and indie pop group Sister Says.

When: 7 p.m.
Where: Museum of Anthropology, 6393 NW Marine Drive
Price: $10
More info: MOA


27. Bah Humbug!

December 7 to 16

Written to respond to the issues facing the Vancouver community today, Bah Humbug! is an East Van retelling of Charles Dickens’ classic A Christmas Carol. A story of greed, gratitude and human redemption, Bah Humbug! will feature an array of musical styles from folk, gospel and industrial rock put on by award winning local performers.

When: December 7 to 16
Where: Fei and Milton Wong Experimental Theatre, 149 W Hastings Street
Price: $20 to $35
More info: Eventbrite


28. Got Craft? 2017 Holiday Edition

December 9 to 10

With workshops, food trucks, swag bags and more than 80 local vendors, Got Craft? 2017 Holiday Edition may be the most fun you have all season while doing your holiday shopping.

When: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Where: Maritime Labour Centre, 1880 Triumph Street
Price: $3
More info: Got Craft?


29. Sunday Soul Brunch

December 10

Held in the spirit of music’s power to create connection and reaffirm our humanity, Sunday Soul Brunch features the uplifting music of Dawn Pemberton and The Good Almighty! Put on by Pi Theatre, the brunch buffet will be a delicious spread of Southern classics.

When: 10:30 a.m.
Where: Emerald Supper Club, 555 Gore Avenue
Price: $36
More info: Pi Theatre


30. Chanukah Celebration at the Vancouver Art Gallery

December 12

Celebrate Hanukkah with the lighting of Canada’s largest Menorah! Held outside the Vancouver Art Gallery, this Chanukah Celebration will include live music, a gelt drop, hot chocolate and doughnuts.

When: 5:30 to 6:30 p.m.
Where: Vancouver Art Gallery, 750 Hornby St.
Price: Free
More info: Facebook


31. Gastown Cabaret: Boy Band Christmas

December 12

The Gastown Cabaret is back (alright!) with a Boy Band Christmas filled with Bendy Boylesque, belly dancing and comedy all set to the soundtrack of your favourite boy bands.

When: 8:00 p.m.
Where: Guilt and Co., 1 Alexander Street
Price: $10
More info: Facebook


32. The Anxiety Show

December 12

While the holidays are fun, they can also be filled with awkward family obligations, overspending and an overwhelming amount of cheer. To help you laugh off some of the pressure, the Anxiety Show features comedy based on mental health issues from comedians as well as open mic performers. This month’s show features hilarious storytellers Sarah Bynoe and Jo Dworschak.

When: 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Where: The Cottage Bistro, 4468 Main Street
Price: $11 to $13
More info: Eventbrite


33. Mad Max: Yellow Brick Road

December 13 to 16

Put together Mad Max, post-apocalyptic munchkins and a one-arm Glinda and you’ve got the unlikely mashup of Mad Max: Yellow Brick Road. This full scripted parody by Instant Theatre Comedy finds Mad Max singing, swearing and rapping his way through the land of Oz. Will he survive the Lollipop Guild?

When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Havana Theatre, 1212 Commercial Drive
Price: $15 to $20
More info: Eventbrite


34. Good Tidings! A Good Noise Gospel Christmas

December 15 to 16

Feel the joy at Good Tidings! A Good Noise Gospel Christmas with special guest Canadian jazz singer Maureen Washington. Performing alongside the 90-voice gospel choir, Washington brings her powerful vocals to a performance that is bound to get you on your feet.

When: 3 p.m. and 8 p.m.
Where: Christ Church Cathedral, 690 Burrard Street
Price: $10 to $25
Most info: Good Noise Gospel Choir


35. Holiday Heights at Bloedel: Artic Oasis

December 15 to January 7

Tired of the grey and cold? Skip the airfare and visit the Artic Oasis at Bloedel Conservatory to experience the warmth and magic of tropical climates. Visitors can search for hidden penguins amongst the parrots and palms, then enjoy the beautiful view from Queen Elizabeth park.

When: December 15 to January 7
Where: Bloedel Conservatory, 4600 Cambie Street
Price: $3.15 to $14.75
More info: Bloedel Conservatory


36. Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival

December 15 to January 21

Celebrate Chinese culture at the Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival! This five-week festival has everything from breathtaking lanterns, acrobatic performances and food trucks to storytelling and a marketplace.

When: December 15 to January 21
Where: The PNE, 2901 E Hastings Street
Price: $13.50 to $19.00
More info: VCLF


37. Big Elf Run

December 16

Dawn your elf ears and toe bells for this year’s Big Elf Run. With a scenic route that travels around Stanley Park and Coal Harbour, the Big Elf Run can be done in one, five or 10 km routes. Open to all ages and abilities, the run features festive cheering—and Water and Hot Chocolate stations! Funds raised will support Canuck Place Children’s Hospice.

When: 11:30 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Where: Stanley Park Lumberman’s Arch, 3301 Stanley Park Drive
Price: $15 to $45
More info: Big Elf Run


38. SantaCon

December 16

Get your twinkly eyes, rosy cheeks and Santa suits ready for Vancouver’s own SantaCon. A bar crawl done entirely in holiday costume, SantaCon will see a stampede of Santas making their way through downtown Vancouver. Participating Santas are encouraged to bring donations—warm gloves, scarves and toques—for gifting.

When: December 16
Where: Locations TBA
Price: Free
More info: SantaCon


39. Weirdos Holiday Market

December 16 to 17

For the person on your gift list who would prefer a taxidermy hedgehog over a chocolate one, Betamax Studios and This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven present the Weirdos Holiday Market. Showcasing a variety of quirky and unconventional gifts from local artisans and vendors, the market will appeal to your curiosity and love of the strange.

When: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Where: Betamax Studios, 2244 E Hastings Street
Price: $2
More info: This Monkey’s Gone to Heaven


40. Nasty Women Comedy: Festive-ish

December 18

Nasty Women Comedy is an improv and sketch group bringing together some of the best and brightest female comedians from around Vancouver. For Nasty Women Comedy: Festive-ish expect sketches and musical medleys in the first half followed by some sweet, sweet improv inspired by real holiday stories. Partial proceeds will go to the Wish Drop-In Centre Society.

When: 7:30 to 10:30 p.m.
Where: Biltmore Cabaret, 2755 Prince Edward Street
Price: $10 to $14
More info: Facebook


41. 24th Annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival

December 21

Light up the darkest night of the year at the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival, put on by the Secret Lantern Society. Taking place across multiple neighbourhoods, the festival features lantern displays, fire performances, enchanting light labyrinths and lantern making workshops to keep your nights sparkling.

When: 6 to 10:30 p.m.
Where: Strathcona, Chinatown, Yaletown, Granville Island
Price: By donation or $8 for the labyrinth
More info: Secret Lantern


42. The Longest Night

December 21

Relax and let the sounds of atmospheric electronic music wash over you at the Longest Night. Featuring Sarah Davachi, Nicolas Bragg and Loscil sampling the CD318 Steinway piano of the great Canadian pianist Glenn Gould.

When: 8:00 p.m.
Where: The Red Gate Revue Stage, 1601 Johnston Street
Price: $12 to $15
More info: Longest Night


43. Festive Cantatas: Vivaldi’s Gloria and Magnificat

December 23

Vivaldi’s joyful and iconic works Gloria and Magnificat, composed while he worked at the Ospedale della Pieta orphanage for girls, were originally written for an all-female singing ensemble. While now normally sung in a mixed voiced choir, this Early Music Vancouver concert will feature performances by female musicians, led by violinist Monica Huggett.

When: 7:30 p.m.
Where: Chan Centre for the Performing Arts, 6265 Crescent Road
Price: $18 to $68
More info: Early Music Vancouver


44. Now That’s Ugly! Annual Christmas Sweater Party

December 23

Dawn your most monstrous of Christmas sweaters for the Now That’s Ugly! Annual Ugly Sweater Party. With proceeds going to support the Make a Wish Foundation, this party will include sing-alongs, DJs, gifts, baking and an eggnog chugging competition.

When: 8 p.m.
Where: The Commodore Ballroom, 868 Granville Street
Price: $30 to $45
More info: Commodore Ballroom


45. The Nutcracker

December 28 to 30

A nutcracker turned into a prince, a sugar plum fairy and some surprisingly scary mice—yes, Tchaikovsky’s famous holiday ballet is back! The Nutcracker, presented by Ballet BC and performed by Alberta Ballet, will feature extravagant sets and costumes designed by Emmy Award-winning designer Zack Brown.

When: December 28 to 30
Where: Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 630 Hamilton St.
Price: $25 to $95
More info: Ballet BC


46. Mochitsuki Day

December 29

Put on by the Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre, Mochitsuki Day is a Japanese tradition for the end of the year. Featuring traditional mochi pounding demonstrations, mochi tasting and a mochi and Japanese food sale. Yum!

When: 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Where: Nikkei National Museum and Cultural Centre, 6688 Southoaks Crescent, Burnaby
Price: Free
More info: Nikkei Place


47. Winter Farmers Markets

Until April 2018

Nat Bailey and Hastings Park Farmers Markets are still open on weekends during the winter season so you can buy fresh local produce for all your cozy cooking and holiday baking. Local artisans and vendors keeps things festive along with hot drink food trucks for those crisp mornings.

When: Saturdays or Sundays, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Where: 4601 Ontario Street or Hastings Park
Price: Free
More info: Eat Local


48. Farm-to-Table New Year’s Eve

December 31

Both Farmer’s Apprentice and its sister restaurant Grapes and Soda are hosting special dinner services for New Years Eve. Organic and seasonal dishes will be expertly paired with natural and biodynamic wines for a delicious culinary experience to celebrate the end of the year.

When: December 31, seatings between 6 and 8:30 p.m.
Where: Grapes and Soda, 1541 West 6th Avenue; Farmer’s Apprentice, 1535 West 6th Avenue
Price: $75 to $180
More info: Grapes and Soda; Farmer’s Apprentice


49. Concord New Year’s Eve

December 31

Ring in the New Year at Concord’s NYE party. One of Canada’s largest New Year’s Eve celebrations, the night will be filled with music, food and, of course, a huge fireworks display at the stroke of midnight.

When: December 31
Where: Concord Pacific, 88 Pacific Boulevard
Price: TBA
More info: Concord NYE


50. Polar Bear Swim

January 1

Start the New Year off right by jumping into the freezing waters of English Bay at Vancouver’s annual Polar Bear Swim. Each year, more than 2,000 brave souls, often clad in costume, wade, run or jump into the ocean during this refreshing tradition that first started in 1920.

When: 2:30 to 3:30 p.m.
Where: English Bay Beach
Price: Free, registration required in order to win prizes
More info: City of Vancouver

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