Top Ten December Events in Vancouver

Wondering what to do in Vancouver this December? Our city is offering an abundance of interesting events and holiday cheer that you and your family shouldn’t miss! Check out our list and Vancouver's Christmas Spirit.

1. Vancouver Christmas Market

November 24th to December 24th

Vancouver Christmas Market
Vancouver Christmas Market

The Vancouver Christmas Market celebrates the tradition of German Christmas markets that have marked the festive season all over central Europe for centuries. Beautiful lights, festive music, artisan stalls and amazing food bring people to celebrate the holiday spirit in true community style. Tickets for the event can only be purchased at the actual market gates (West Georgia Street and Hamilton Street) and range from $2 to $5. The good news is that the tickets are well worth the wait since they’re valid for the entire market season - so you can return to the market as many times as you like until it closes for the year. Don’t miss this great chance to check out German Holiday Cuisine...lots of yummy dishes and drinks to warm you up!

2. Heritage Christmas in Burnaby Village Museum

November 24th to December 14th

Burnaby Village Museum
Burnaby Village Museum

Visit Burnaby Village Museum to experience the spirit of traditional Christmas in the illuminated village full of spectacular light displays. The whole village is decorated by beautiful eco-sculptures that are a new addition to all the traditional sights and include a giant Christmas tree twinkling just next to the carousel. There's plenty of seasonal entertainment and special programming to get you in the festive mood. Admission is free and tickets for carousel rides are $2.30.

3. Bright Nights at Stanley Park

November 29th to January 2nd

Bright Night in Stanley Park
Bright Night in Stanley Park

Stanley Park combats December early sunsets with its traditional train ride "Bright Nights", a well-known tradition for Vancouverites. Throughout the entire festive season, the park sparkles with more than two million lights, turning the forest surrounding the miniature train turns into a magical winter wonderland for kids and adults alike. Come out with your family to listen to classic holiday stories and songs, enjoy warm drinks and freshly roasted nuts, and take a ride on the miniature train.

4. Luminescence: A Celebration of Aquatic Light

November 22nd to January 22nd

Luminescence in Vancouver Aquarium
Luminescence in Vancouver Aquarium

Once again, the Vancouver Aquarium is taking a creative approach to traditional Christmas Lights with a special exhibit aimed at presenting the extraordinary world of animals using fluorescent and bioluminescent light in the darkness of the ocean. Visitors can partake in creating light effects by entering Jelly Swarm, a special interactive light installation. Moreover, the Aquarium has prepared an electric eel display, featuring their amazing ability to produce jolts of electricity. There’s no extra admission for the Luminescence display, so regular admission applies — it’s freely accessible to all visitors of the Vancouver Aquarium during its opening hours, so be sure to stop by!

5. Robson Square Ice-Skating

December 1st to February 28th

Ice Skaters by Anne Homyak
Ice Skaters by Anne Homyak

Don’t miss this chance to lace up your skates and get your blood pumping while skating laps at Vancouver’s most popular outdoor skating rink in Robson Square. Skate, chat with friends, teach your kids to skate, or just chill near the boards while sipping a warm drink purchased from the concession stand next to the rink. This is definitely a great way to make the most of the Vancouver winter in the city. Admission to the area is free, while skate rentals cost $4.

6. Rogers Santa Claus Parade

December 2nd

Rogers Santa Claus Parade
Rogers Santa Claus Parade

On the first Sunday in December, the streets of Vancouver are stormed by Santa’s early visit to the city, which kicks off the holiday season. The parade has only existed since 2003, which is a young tradition compared to the biggest Canadian Santa Claus Parade in Toronto. Nevertheless, about 300,000 people come over every year to watch Santa and his helpers aided by about 60 bands, floats, and groups formed by different communities in the city. The hour-and-a-half parade is a great thrill for families ~ it would be naughty for anyone to miss out!

The event this year started at 1:00 P.M. at West Georgia Street and Broughton, and the procession moved all the way along West Georgia, turned right on Howe, and finished at Davie. The organizers wanted this year’s route to provide even more space for spectators than last year, when Santa reached Burrard instead.

So how was it this year? Those who arrived early enough could have caught a pretty good spot. A rich program had also been prepared at Coast Capital Savings Christmas Square in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. All visitors had a chance to enjoy music and dance performances, send letters to Santa, stop by at a gingerbread decorating station, learn how to twist balloons, and do a good deed at the Food Bank drop-off zone by bringing non-perishable food items or donating money to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society.

If you’re one of the unlucky ones who can’t make it to this magical event or you just refuse to spend your Sunday afternoon freezing in the streets, you can always watch the Parade on TV. Until the next time!

7. The Vancouver Symphony’s Traditional Christmas

December 13th to December 22nd

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

The Vancouver Symphony presents a concert that’s among the dearest Christmas traditions in the city. Christopher Gaze hosts a night filled with the most beautiful carols, Christmas orchestral music, and many audience sing-alongs for anyone who finds the traditional tunes irresistible. The price of the tickets for adults is $38, while discounted tickets for students and seniors are $33. Last year, every single performance was sold out, so make sure to book your tickets in advance to ensure a place.

8. Vancouver Giants’ Teddy Bear Toss

December 14th

Vancouver Giants
Vancouver Giants

The Vancouver Giants’ annual Teddy Bear Toss is near and dear to hockey fans. All visitors to the game on the 14th of December are asked to bring a new teddy bear with them or purchase one at the stadium, with all the proceeds going straight to charity. Fans then toss it on the ice when the Giants manage to score their first goal (so let’s hope they do!). All the teddy bears are collected and donated to charity organizations that distribute them to children for Christmas.

9. Royal Winnipeg Ballet’s The Nutcracker

December 14th to December 16th

Ballet BCs Nutcracker
Ballet BC's Nutcracker

Most of us can’t imagine Christmas without the Nutcracker, the magical story by E.T.A. Hoffmann immortalized in Tchaikovsky’s musical masterpiece. Ballet BC hosts their Winnipeg colleagues, who have decided to set the story in a mansion at the brink of the 20th century. The setting includes various iconic Canadian symbols such as a hockey game on the frozen lake surrounded by heaps of snow and a battle on Parliament Hill —both of which are featured during Clara’s fantasy adventures. The stunning choreography was done by the creative duo of Galina Yordanova and Nina Menon. The performance lasts about two hours and includes one intermission.

10. Winter Solstice Lantern Festival

December 21st

Winter Solstice Lantern Festival
Winter Solstice Lantern Festival

The Secret Lantern Society has prepared its 18th annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival in communities around Vancouver. The free festival marks the longest night of the year by illuminating the city with lanterns, singing and dancing, and fire performances. The organizers of the event aim at recreating and honouring many traditions of the diverse cultures that merge in Vancouver, as the solstice is a remarkable day in most cultures’ traditional calendars. Communities that participate in the celebration include Granville Island, Chinatown, Yaletown, Commercial Drive, and S.E. False Creek, so there’s plenty of programming to choose from and enjoy.

Can you think of any other must-attend event that we’ve missed? Let us know!

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2 Responses to Top Ten December Events in Vancouver

  1. Thanks Sebastian for putting the Vancouver Christmas Market at the top of your list. We’re looking forward to seeing your readers and yourself at the Market to enjoy the amazing festivities. And on Dec 6th, we’re doing date night. It’s 2 for 1 entry, as well as free carousel rides when people take a photo and post it on social media when they show it to the carousel operator. Happy holidays!

  2. sharleen says:

    Just want to enjoy this Christmas without thinking about the poor conditions of real estate in vancouver

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