20 Ways to Get in the Christmas Spirit in Vancouver

From spectacular light displays to traditional performances, these 20 holiday events in Vancouver will have you feeling all warm and fuzzy

Bright Nights at Stanley Park

Now in its 19th consecutive season, the Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park is back for another season of one of the city’s most elaborate Christmas light displays. The Stanley Park Train and the towering cedar and Douglas fir trees that surround it are adorned by over three million dazzling Christmas lights—a truly wondrous sight. Replete with live music, snacks and even a visit from Santa and his elves, this event is the perfect way to get in the holiday spirit with the whole family. Admission into Bright Nights is by donation (a suggested $4). All donation proceeds go to the Burn Fund, and partial proceeds of train ticket sales go to support Burn Fund programs.

November 28, 2016 to January 1, 2017 (closed Christmas Day)
Click here for detailed ticket info and train ride times.

Vancouver Christmas Market

Drink, shop and be merry! Now in its seventh year, this German-inspired market is a one-stop shop for all things Christmas. With over 50,000 square feet of space, including over 70 huts serving up an eclectic mix of authentic German dishes and drinks, it’s a great place to mingle with friends or kick back after work. The market is renowned for its unique selection of handmade wood carvings, toys, nutcrackers, pottery and knitted goods, and hosts a bevy of local artisans selling unique gifts. And for the kids (and the young at heart), be sure to check out the wide range of children’s activities offered, including downtown Vancouver’s only Christmas carousel!

November 26 until December 30, 2016, daily 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; December 24, closed at 6 p.m. and closed Christmas Day
Jack Poole Plaza, 1055 Canada Place

St. Paul’s Hospital Lights of Hope

Each year, St. Paul’s Hospital puts on a spectacular, multi-dimensional Christmas display, including over 10 km of lights, 100,000 bulbs and fireworks that illuminate downtown Vancouver. This can’t-miss spectacle is the hospital’s biggest fundraiser of the year and takes over 150 volunteers over six weeks to develop. Food trucks and church choirs add to the ambience of this community event, and the sea of sponsored stars along the hospital signify the arrival of Christmas for many Vancouverites.

Begins on November 24 at St. Paul’s Hospital, 1081 Burrard Street

Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge

Walk amongst the trees and be enchanted at Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. The bridge, Treetops Adventure, Cliffwalk, the rainforest and the canyon are all transformed into a breathtaking display of hundreds of thousands of lights. Here, you can marvel under the gleam of the world’s largest Christmas tree (over 153 feet tall!), decorate gingerbread cookies, make your own Christmas card in the winter pavilion and enjoy live music by a holiday-themed band. New this year is ‘Fireflies’, an interactive lighting display in which guests, by using flashlights, can awaken waves of tiny lights that twinkle like fireflies in the rainforest.

November 24, 2016 to January 8, 2017
Find ticket info here.

CandyTown in Yaletown

Each holiday season, Mainland Street in Yaletown transforms into a winter wonderland, complete with candy cane lampposts, costumed characters and awesome Christmas light displays. Holiday shoppers are encouraged to start their shopping in Yaletown, as local merchants will be carrying speciality gifts and sweet holiday eats. As well, there will be street-side vendors, live music and street performers to help make your shopping experience as memorable and stress-free as can be. This outdoor festival is free and a great way to kick start the holidays.

Main attractions this year include:

  • Free horse carriage rides (in front of 1200 Pacific Blvd)
  • Visits with Santa and the Ice Queen
  • An ice carving demonstration
  • Live music and street performers
  • Candy making
  • A Christmas tree lot
  • “All I Want for Christmas” gift market

November 26; 12:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.
Mainland Street, Yaletown

Rogers Santa Claus Parade

Dasher, Dancer, Prancer, Vixen… Grab a hot chocolate and head down to Georgia Street on December 4th to catch a glimpse of Santa and his reindeer at the annual Rogers Santa Claus Parade. Each year, the parade attracts more than 300,000 spectators and includes over 3,500 participants. This year promises to be a memorable event, with more than 65 marching bands, choirs and festive groups in the parade lineup.

December 4, starts at 12:00 p.m.
Parade starts on Georgia at Broughton, continues East along Georgia and ends on Howe and Smithe

Credit: Canada Place

Christmas at Canada Place

Capture the holiday spirit at the 29th annual Christmas at Canada Place, presented by Port Metro Vancouver. Christmas at Canada Place takes place on the Canadian Trail, located on the west side of Canada Place. One of the main attractions of this Christmas celebration is Woodward’s Windows—a charming window display featuring classic holiday scenes with elaborately crafted animated characters and decor. The Woodward’s Windows were originally displayed in the famous Woodward’s department store, and are a must-see for those seeking the ultimate Vancouver holiday experience.

Guests can enjoy many more free activities (including Rudolph’s Theatre, which screens classic Christmas flicks like Frosty the Snowman and Rudolph the Red-nosed Reindeer) and Avenue of Christmas Trees, where you can see a barrage of Christmas trees creatively decorated by community supporters. 

December 16-30, 2016
The Canadian Trail, Canada Place west promenade

Ice Skating in Robson Square

There’s no better way to experience winter in Vancouver than ice-skating in Robson Square (800 Robson Street) against the backdrop of a massive, twinkling evergreen tree. Link arms with a foggy-breathed lover and skate to the cadence of Christmas tunes and downtown buzz. This old-fashioned holiday tradition promises a magical time for all, and skate rentals are available on-site.

December 1, 2016 until February 28, 2017; Sunday to Thursday: 9:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.; Friday and Saturday: 9:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.
Free admission (skate rentals extra)

Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden

A stunning mix of natural beauty and electric extravagance, VanDusen’s Botanical Garden turns into a floral fairyland during the holiday season, with over one million lights decorating the grounds. Look out for roving reindeer and Scandinavian gnomes, be dazzled by the Dancing Lights show on Livingstone Lake, light a candle at the Make-A-Wish candle grotto, snap a selfie with Santa and more! This year, VanDusen Botanical Garden (5251 Oak Street) has expanded the festivities to include a free carousel ride with admission. Buy online early to skip the line and save.

December 1, 2016 to January 2, 2017  (various times, closed Christmas day)

Christmas at Hycroft

Wander through ancient nooks and crannies and pay homage to Christmases past in this lavish Edwardian mansion. This fabulous three-story abode is a designer’s dream, with corporate and in-house decorators working around the clock to enhance its amazing holiday displays. The halls are laden with funky boutiques and 25 local artists showcasing unique handicrafts. Be sure to take a stroll outside to the Hycroft Courtyard to enjoy tons of activities and the mouth-watering culinary creations in Emelle’s Catering Trailer.

November 17 to December 20, 2016
1489 McRae Ave, Vancouver

Watch The Nutcracker live

Christmas just wouldn’t be Christmas without seeing The Nutcracker. Watch the classic holiday masterpiece performed live in the following local theatres.


The Canada Royal Winnipeg Ballet production of The Nutcracker promises audiences an awe-inspiring theatre experience, with over a million dollars spent in lavish sets and costumes that are designed to emulate the opulent Imperial Russia.The sparkling spectacle will be accompanied by Tchaikovsky’s famous musical score and performed by Vancouver Symphony Orchestra. The show also includes some distinctly Canadian scenes such as a snowy pond hockey game and a battle on Parliament Hill!

December 8-11; Queen Elizabeth Theatre, 650 Hamilton Street
Get tickets here.


This heart-warming production, produced by the renowned Goh Ballet, is sure to delight audiences of all ages with elaborate set designs and more than 200 glittering costumes—all to the accompaniment of Tchaikovsky’s musical score performed live by members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. This year, Goh Ballet’s The Nutcracker features principal dancers from the National Ballet of Canada. 

December 15-20; The Centre in Vancouver, 777 Homer Street
Get tickets here.

Enchant Christmas Maze

Enchant is the world’s largest Christmas maze and features over 55,000 square feet of brilliantly illuminated sculptures, and is making its debut in Vancouver this holiday season! Guests will meet Santa Claus and help him find his nine reindeer that have gotten lost in the maze. The maze will consist of hundreds of thousands of lights, will take between 20 to 30 minutes to complete, and will have a stunning 64-foot-tall Christmas tree with 84,000 LED lights in the centre of it all!

The event also includes a Christmas market showcasing over 40 local vendors selling various seasonal treasures. Be sure to check out the licensed eating area, and enjoy a holiday cocktail or two while enjoying the sights.

1st and Crowe Street, in between the Cambie Street Bridge and Olympic