BC Adventures – Our To Do Picks for December 8-14

This week in BC: Enjoy Harbour Cruises' Carol Ship Dinner Cruise, Bright Nights in Stanley Park, VanDusen Botanical Garden's Festival of Light, and more

The Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain — Until Dec. 24

Vancouverites are used to wet, not white, Christmases, but it’s still good to know that snow is always as close as our local ski hills. And this holiday season Grouse Mountain is offering up much more than just pristine powder. Until December 24, alpine adventurers can check out The Peak of Christmas, a seasonal celebration featuring activities like outdoor ice-skating, sleigh rides, breakfast with Santa and even real live reindeer.

Bright Nights at Stanley Park — Until Jan. 1

What makes Bright Nights in Stanley Park one of the most “high-voltage” events in Vancouver? Chalk it up to the more than two million twinkling lights transforming Vancouver’s biggest urban forest into a winter wonderland. Wrap your mitts around a hot chocolate then bundle aboard the Stanley Park miniature steam train for a 12-minute chug through old-growth forest, where seasonal surprises await around every corner. Check it out nightly until January 1, with tickets benefiting the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.

Harbour Cruises’ Carol Ship Dinner Cruise — Until Dec. 23

There’s only one seasonal excursion guaranteed to float your boat, and that’s Harbour Cruises’ Carol Ship Dinner Cruise, part of Vancouver’s annual Carol Ships Parade of Lights Festival. After stepping aboard a boat festooned in festive lights, you’ll sit down for a multi-course holiday dinner featuring slow-roasted turkey and glazed ham followed by communal caroling and dancing, all while surrounded by the stunning sights of Vancouver’s cityscape. Check out this and other seasonal cruises on select nights until December 23.

Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden — From Dec. 7

Proving it isn’t always good to be No. 1, every winter Vancouver is voted Canada’s “Most Depressing City,” thanks to gloomy grey days that last straight through until spring. But it’s easy to shake off the December doldrums — just head to VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Light, open nightly until January 1. After all, you’d have to be as sour as Scrooge not to be charmed as you stroll along whimsical walkways dubbed Candy Cane Lane and Gingerbread Wood, sip hot cider in Santa’s Living Room or take in community-choir concerts and a dancing light show. Check it out from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m. beginning December 7 (except December 25).

Got Craft? at Vancouver’s Croatian Cultural Centre — Dec. 8-9

Craft fairs aren’t usually the go-to spot for must-have buys. But Got Craft? just might change your mind. You won’t find any crocheted toilet-roll holders here; this 12th annual market at Vancouver’s Croatian Cultural Centre on December 8 and 9 features 80 artisans selling everything from eco-conscious clothing to organic baking and handcrafted jewellery.

Credit: Flickr / Lava

Vancouver Giants’ Annual Teddy Bear Toss — Dec. 14

No child deserves to be stiffed by Santa. That’s why hundreds of big-hearted hockey fans are toting stuffed toys to the Vancouver Giants game on December 14. It’s all for the annual Teddy Bear Toss, which benefits local children’s charities. Just bring a stuffed toy (or buy one on site at the Pacific Coliseum) and when the Giants score their first goal against the Prince George Cougars, that’s your cue to hurl the critters onto the ice. Buy tickets for the 7 p.m. game online.

Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum — Dec. 15 to Jan. 4

Christmas is for children, but adults are just as likely to get into the holiday spirit at Burnaby Village Museum. Until January 4, the replica 19th-century town is hosting a Heritage Christmas that will enchant visitors with scenes from yuletides of yore, thanks to Victorian-style storefronts, costumed carolers, live theatre, appearances by Father Christmas and loads of storybook-inspired decorations. Admission is free, so check it out daily until 4:30 p.m., or beginning December 15 until 9 p.m.

Credit: Flickr / FastPhive

BC SPCA — Adopt a Furry Family Member

A pet is for life, not just for Christmas. We all know the saying, but if you’re smitten with kittens, now is a great time to adopt your latest furry family member. Until December 9, the BC SPCA has reduced the $179 adoption price for kittens by 50 per cent, and the now-$89 fee includes vaccinations, spaying or neutering plus six weeks of free pet insurance. Pick your pet online or visit your local SPCA shelter, operating 42 branches around the province.

Credit: Flickr / Gord McKenna

Railspur District at Granville Island

For many, “mall” is a four-letter word. So when you’re shopping for holiday gifts, check out the Railspur District on Granville Island, considered “the best place in Vancouver to find unique, artisan-made gifts and products.” From ceramics to textiles, sake to boats, you’re guaranteed to find all manner of artful offerings for everyone on your gift list.

Credit: Shingo Kido

Festival of Trees at Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver

Can’t see the forest for the trees? Then you must be at the 26th annual Festival of Trees, a feel-good fundraiser for BC Children’s Hospital, now taking place in four local communities. No need to brave winter winds to enjoy this copse of Christmas trees because they’re set in the luxe lobbies of Vancouver’s Four Seasons Hotel, Victoria’s Fairmont Empress, Sooke’s SEAPAC Leisure Complex and Port Alberni’s Best Western Barclay Hotel. But don’t rush: You’ve got till January to check out these fine firs and to cast a ballot for the People’s Choice Award.

Originally published in TVW. For daily programming updates and on-screen Entertainment news, subscribe to the free TVW e-newsletters, or purchase a subscription to the weekly magazine.