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9 Things To Do In Vancouver To Get You In The Christmas Spirit

9 Must-Do Christmas Activities In Vancouver!

Christmas is my absolute favourite time of year, every December I put on my cutest Christmas sweater and go to town on celebrating the festive season. You’ll usually find me sipping on some mulled wine, or venturing through as many Christmas markets as possible. I’ve been lucky enough to spend Christmas in several locations around the world. In cold climates as well as humid tropical climates. It’s been a while since I was in the UK celebrating Christmas with my family, so no matter where I am in the world I always make an effort to enjoy it.

Spending the holidays here in Canada is almost like a Hallmark movie! Here in Whistler we have the snow, and in Vancouver all the big shop windows and streets come alive with twinkly lights. It’s just like a mini New York! If you’re visiting Vancouver during the festive season there’s a multitude of things to get you in the Christmas Spirit.

So how do you celebrate Christmas in Vancouver? Here are some of the best Vancouver Christmas activities…

1. Watch The Santa Claus Parade

The Santa Claus Parade happens every year in Vancouver around the first week of December. Local businesses, sports teams and residents put on the biggest Christmas celebration through the streets of Vancouver. Several streets do get cut off for the event. The Santa Claus Parade route runs from West Georgia & Broughton, takes a right turn and finished at Davie & Howe. The start time is around 12pm and lasts approximately 1.5 Hours. While the Parade itself is free to watch, there are additional events happening before and after. In the morning you can opt to have breakfast with Santa at the Fairmont Vancouver Hotel. Breakfast with Santa is between 8:30am and 10:30, with prices costing $59 for Adults and $35 for Children. Once the parade is finished you can still take the opportunity to meet Santa over at at TELUS Garden from 2 p.m. to 4 p.m (with hot chocolate and cookies!)

Address: The Parade route runs from West Georgia to Howe St

Price: The Parade is free to watch. Breakfast with Santa at the Fairmont is $59 CAD (Adult)

2. Sip Tea At The Fairmont Christmas Themed Afternoon Tea

Coming from London, England afternoon tea is always a good time. Sipping on tea and eating scones is the perfect way to celebrate the holidays – especially when it’s Christmas themed! This cute nutcracker themed afternoon tea is available at the Fairmont Vancouver at Notch 8 restaurant.

Address: 900 W Georgia St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2W6

Price: $79 CAD

3. Eat All The Food At Vancouver Christmas Market

If there’s a Christmas Market in town, you bet I’ll be going! Christmas Markets are my absolute favourite, while nothing can quite compare to those of the German Variety, Vancouver’s Christmas Market does a good job of bringing the tradition to Canada. I often buy Christmas ornaments from around the world to stick on the tree every year, but I was a tad disappointed by the range on offer here. There is a dedicated hut for German Christmas ornaments, but I found most of them were made in China and some I’d actually seen in the dollar store. Prices for decorations were overpriced in my opinion (compared to those in Toronto and Europe).

The food on the other hand is more than worth the line-ups! The Gluhwein was amazing as ever, while other huts offered everything from bratwurst and spatzl to raclette.

Address: Jack Poole Plaza, 1055 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC V6C 3G3

Price: $12 CAD At The Gate or $10CAD online

Vancouver Christmas Market Gluwein
Gluwein – so good!

4. Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony

Who doesn’t love a shameful selfie with a giant Christmas tree!? In the 6 weeks leading up to Christmas, twinkly lights gradually fill the city. As with most big cities there is always that one tree that’s the biggest and most central. Vancouver’s 76-foot Christmas tree is located in Robson Square, just in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. And every year they have a tree lighting ceremony, complete with live entertainment, music and free cookies and hot chocolate. The Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony supports the Vancouver International Children’s Festival Society. While the event is free to attend, donations are warmly welcomed to support this this cause. The lighting ceremony runs from 6pm to 7pm.

Address: 800 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 3B7

Price: By Donation

Christmas in Vancouver - Christmas Tree
(Not the tree in Robson Square – I was took keen and early for it)

5. VanDusen Botanical Garden Festival Of Lights

The VanDusen Botanical Gardens hosts their very own Christmas celebration – the Festival Of Lights. With over 1 million lights on display, it’s hard not to stare in awe. There is a multitude of things to do, including meeting Santa, riding the carousel, and relaxing at the fireside lounge. Make sure you check out the dancing lights every 20-minutes at Livingstone Lake. The festival runs from Novemver 30th to January 5th.

Address: 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC V6M 4H1

Price: $19CAD Online, $21CAD At The Gate

6. Canyon Lights At Capilano Suspension Bridge

The Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge are one of the things I’ve wanted to do in Vancouver for a long time! I’ve since been twice and although it does have the steep price tag of $56 it’s also something you’ll most likely only do once. Walking into the park you are submerged into a magical forest filled with twinkly lights. The bridge itself is lined with lights while the trees are covered in brightly coloured sparkles! I would recommend coming here in the early afternoon before it gets completely dark and before the crowds come! Although the Capilano Suspension Bridge will always be busy, night time is more so during the Canyon Lights. Canyon Lights runs from November 22nd to January 25th.

Address: 3735 Capilano Rd, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4J1

Price: $53.95 CAD

7. Ice Skating In Robson Square

Nothing says Christmas festive season like ice skating. Wrap up in your warmest scarf and get those twinkle toes on the ice! The Skating rink at Robson Square is free if you bring your own skates and $5 to rent a pair.

Address: 800 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 3B7

Price: Skate rentals are $5 CAD. Cash Only

8. Gingerbread Lane At The Hyatt

Walking into Gingerbread Lane at the Hyatt Hotel just makes me feel so cozy and warm! Every year the Hyatt hosts a gingerbread house competition, and some of the entries on display are just phenomenal, and all edible too! Grab a peppermint hot chocolate from the Starbucks inside the hotel and take your time wandering through Gingerbread Lane, peeking in and out of the tiny houses.

Address: 655 Burrard St, Vancouver, BC V6C 2R7

Price: Free

Gingerbread Lane at the Hyatt Hotel - Christmas event Vancouver
Gingerbread Houses at the Hyatt Vancouver

9. Indulge In Christmas Goodies!

My favourite time of year also brings with it the absolute cutest desserts. If it’s reindeer shaped, I have to have it! Christmas is the one time of the year you can eat what you want and no one cares. Chocolate, pastries, macarons – Vancouver has it all! My personal favourites are the ridiculously cute cakes at Yandoux Patisserie in Olympic Village and the macarons at Soirette Pastry Boutique.

Yandoux Patisserie

Address: 1731 Manitoba St, Vancouver, BC V5Y 0H8

Soirette Pastry Boutique

Address: 1433 W Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6G 2S3

What are your favourite Christmas activities?

Click Below To Pin For Later!

Best Christmas Activities In Vancouver, Canada
What To Do In Vancouver At Christmas

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  1. Gorgeous photos of Vancouver as always Rachel!
    I keep meaning to go and see the Capilano suspension bridge lights. They are sooo gorgeous.

  2. I NEED TO GO TO VANCOUVER for Christmas! It´s on my list for a while already and now you put an idea in my head! With the Santa Clause parade, the lights at the suspension bridge and the afternoon tea in Christmas style! I want that and probably it´s the perfect idea for next year´s Christmas! At least, for a couple of days… would love that! thanks for this guide!

  3. I have so much fun at the Vancouver Christmas market, there’s a lot of good food. And talking about food: the afternoon tea! I’ve been to Notch 8 before, they do really good themed teas. I did an Alice in Wonderland one, but would love to experience the Christmas one

    1. I’ve only ever had afternoon tea in Vancouver at Trump Hotel (It was harry potter themed I couldn’t resist) and it was awful! But I’ve been to Notch 8 and their drinks are fantastic so assuming their afternoon tea is much better!

  4. This is adorable and has got me feeling totally festive! Love the gingerbread houses. I’m living in Australia and they just don’t get as festive as other parts of the world! Thanks for sharing

  5. I’ve always wanted to go to the Van Dusen Festival of Lights, it looks so beautiful! The suspension bridge all lit up would be so cool to see too! So many fun Christmassy activities! 🙂

  6. Oh these are great tips! I might try and see if I can do any of them here in Australia, I’m honestly not in mood for Christmas at all haha, it’s so warm!

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