Vancouver Adventures: Our To Do Picks Dec. 7-13

This week in Vancouver: Take a walk on the festive side at Canyon Lights, enjoy the spectacle at VanDusen, and have your breath taken away at Cavalia’s Odysseo

Sixth Annual Polar Express – December 7-8

Pity the poor kids from Christmases past: all they could do was leave Santa milk and cookies. Today’s tots can do so much better by hopping aboard the sixth annual Polar Express, a one-hour train ride where you can munch cookies in the company of Santa and Mrs. Claus. Catch it on December 7 and 8 at West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish, with departure times at 10 a.m., noon, 2 p.m. and 4 p.m. Tickets start at $27

Cavalia’s Odysseo – December 7 to January 5

Epic. Breathtaking. Stunning. Seasoned critics have used these over-the-top adjectives to describe Cavalia’s Odysseo, so chances are — if you have any horse sense — you’ll love it too! Touted as the world’s largest touring show, it gallops into Vancouver from December 7 to January 5 to dazzle fans with equine artistry, acrobatics and high-tech effects — including an 80,000-gallon waterfall finale! Catch it under the big top (Cambie at W. 1st Ave.) for $29.50 and up.

Credit: VanDusen Botanical Gardens

VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights – December 11 to January 4

When the weather is dark, damp and depressing, it’s no wonder so many people suffer from the winter blahs. But it’s easy to lighten up with a visit to VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights, running from December 11 through January 4. Who could be glum while strolling along Candy Cane Lane and Gingerbread Wood or taking in community choir concerts and a colourful light show on Livingstone Lake? Nightly from 4:30 to 9 p.m.

Santa Shuffle Fun Run and Elf Walk – December 7

Seems even Santa needs to lace up his runners to work off the season’s festive feasts. So you can expect him to be front and centre on December 7 for the 5K Santa Shuffle Fun Run and Elf Walk, a family oriented fundraiser that benefits the Salvation Army. As Charles Dickens once said, “It’s at Christmas time that want is most keenly felt,” so rest assured your donations will help put a turkey on the table and gifts under the tree for B.C.’s neediest families. The race kicks off at 10 a.m. at Lumberman’s Arch in Stanley Park.

The Peak of Christmas – Until December 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.

Vancouver Symphany Opera – December 12-22

Do you find Noel hell? Then bid buh-bye to your inner Grinch with Vancouver Symphony Opera’s Traditional Christmas concerts. Catch one of the 15 performances, featuring Yuletide carols, classical favourites and audience sing-alongs, at various venues throughout the Lower Mainland.

Passport to Christmas

Unlike the conventional variety, you won’t need to endure any long bureaucratic lineups to apply for a Passport to Christmas, your ticket to a sixth annual treasure trek through Abbotsford and the Fraser Valley. Just follow a map to 15 venues, including shops, boutiques and farms, where you’ll find everything you need to summon your celebratory spirit — or, at the very least, bid buh-bye to your gift list.  

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge – Until January 4

One way to ensure the holidays are merry and bright? By checking out Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver. This winter wonderland, open nightly until January 4, is hosting the ultimate seasonal celebration, including sing-a-long carols, gingerbread cookie decorating, glass ornament blowing and the world’s largest living Christmas tree — all set amidst millions of twinkling lights. Partial proceeds from admission go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund.

Vancouver Giants Teddy Bear Toss – December 13

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 13. 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 Everett Silvertips that’s your cue to hurl the critters onto the ice.

Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum – Until January 3

Resurrecting Yuletides of yore is a specialty of Burnaby Village Museum, a replica turn-of-the-century town in the heart of the city. And, until January 3, it’ll be making spirits bright with a Heritage Christmas, featuring a chorus of carolers, live plays, appearances by Father Christmas and loads of storybook-inspired decorations. While you’re there, why not take a whirl on the C.W. Parker Carousel, too?