Holiday activities for all ages in Vancouver

’Tis the season for all things merry and bright here in Vancouver. From the snow-covered evergreens atop Grouse Mountain to the twinkling Carol Ships floating along False Creek, the city is aglow with festive wonder. There’s plenty of holiday fun to be had, so grab your near and dear and check out these local activities that are sure to get you in the Christmas spirit. [Photo courtesy of Capilano Suspension Bridge Park]

Vancouver Christmas Market

1
1055 Canada Pl, Vancouver, BC V6C 0C3

Grab a mug of spiced glühwein and get ready to toast the Yuletide season at the seventh annual Vancouver Christmas Market. The traditional German holiday market returns to the city from November 26 to December 30 in a new location at Jack Poole Plaza. The waterfront venue will be unrecognizable as vendors set up shop in charming wooden huts bedecked with twinkling lights. Get ready for European street food and drinks, toys, gifts and crafts, musical performances and a brightly lit carousel for the little ones. Remember the market takes place outdoors so dress for the weather.

Stanley Park

2
610 Pipeline Rd, Vancouver, BC V6G 1Z4

All aboard for some holiday fun! Stanley Park transforms into a winter wonderland for the holiday season (minus the snow of course) and the best way to tour this magical wooded park is aboard the Bright Nights Christmas Train. The enchanting train route will delight visitors young and old with dazzling light displays and live performances. Matinee and night trains depart daily from Stanley Park Train Plaza from November 28 to January 1 (except on Christmas Day). Tickets are available online and a portion of the sales will be donated to the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.

CandyTown

3
1152 Mainland St, Vancouver, BC V6B 4X2

Yaletown transforms into a winter wonderland as the annual CandyTown holiday festival returns on Saturday, November 26. Now in its fifth year, this enchanting Yuletide tradition is sure to put you in the holiday spirit. The neighbourhood street party includes an arts and crafts market, live music and candy-making demonstrations, street performers, ice sculptures and sweet and savoury treats from visiting food trucks and local restaurants. Take a cozy horse-drawn carriage ride, snap a selfie with Santa, pick out the perfect Christmas tree and finish off with a merry CandyTown-themed cocktail at the chic lobby bar inside the OPUS hotel.

Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

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

Celebrating its 11th season this year, Capilano Canyon Lights is a sparkling attraction that’s a must-see over the holidays. The North Van park is one of the city’s most popular tourist destinations year-round, but it’s definitely worth a special visit when the suspension bridge and surrounding rainforest, canyon, river and cliff face are adorned with hundreds of thousands of colourful lights. Kids can enjoy an array of wintertime activities: gingerbread cookie decorating, make-your-own Christmas cards and sing-alongs. The park is also home to the world’s tallest living Christmas tree, measuring an impressive 153 feet!

Robson Square

5
100-800 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6Z 3B7

If you’re looking for affordable holiday fun, you can’t go wrong with a spin around the Robson Square Ice Rink. This free outdoor skating rink is a nice spot to get some exercise in the fresh air while taking in the festive downtown lights. BYO skates or rent a pair on site and glide over the frozen oval while showing off your fancy footwork. Classic holiday hits provide a joyful soundtrack and the covered roof means you can pirouette even when it’s raining. For some extra holiday magic, visit on Friday, December 2 for the Christmas tree lighting ceremony.

Grouse Mountain-The Peak Of Vancouver

6
6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver, BC V7R 4K9

During the Peak of Christmas celebrations, the top of Grouse Mountain feels like the heart of the North Pole but has the added benefit of being just a 30-minute drive from downtown Vancouver. Take the gondola to the mountaintop to enjoy a host of very merry seasonal activities: delicious gingerbread house displays, a 8,000-square-foot ice skating pond, classic holiday movie screenings, a sliding zone and enchanting sleigh rides through the alpine forest. Be sure to keep your eye out for a very special Christmas celebrity; Santa, along with his reindeer, will be making a few appearances for photo ops.

Rogers Santa Claus Parade

7
200-55 Water St, Vancouver, BC V6B 1A1

Santa Claus, St. Nick, Father Christmas, Père Noël – no matter what you call him, there’s no denying that the big man in red is the star of the show at Vancouver’s Santa Claus Parade. This year’s holiday procession winds its way through the downtown on Sunday, December 4, starting at Noon. Featuring marching bands, choirs, holiday-themed floats and various community groups, the annual event attracts around 300,000 spectators each year. Make sure you bundle up (the show goes on rain or shine) and practice patience with the excitable holiday crowds.

Carol Ships Festival Parade Of Lights Society

8
PO Box 4122 Stn Terminal, Vancouver, BC V6B 3Z6

A uniquely Vancouver tradition, the city’s waterways come ablaze each year during the annual Carol Ships Parade of Lights. A flotilla of boats and yachts adorned with thousands of bright lights cruise along the coastline. Check out the procession of sparkling vessels from the shore on five parade nights throughout the month of December. Of course, the best way to see these shimmering ships is to get out on the water yourself. Book a holiday cruise and check out the glistening nautical parade from a unique vantage point while enjoying dinner, carolling, dancing and general festive merriment.

VanDusen Botanical Garden

9
5251 Oak St, Vancouver, BC V6M 4H1

Experience a sparkling urban oasis during the annual Festival of Lights at the VanDusen Botanical Garden. The 22-hectare public garden comes aglow for the month of December as the pavilions, shelters, sculptures and botanical displays are all festooned with more than one million glittering lights. Stroll through the labyrinthine walkways with friends and family to take in the natural wonder while enjoying a performance from the resident garden gnome and a reading of Tales for a Winter’s Night by the Vancouver Public Library. Santa will also be on hand to visit with your youngins.

Vancouver Symphony Orchestra

10
500-833 Seymour St, Vancouver, BC V6B 0G4

Nothing gets you in the holiday spirit quite like the nostalgic sounds of traditional Christmas carols. The Vancouver Symphony Orchestra’s annual winter concert includes heart-warming tunes and plenty of sing-along opportunities. British actor Christopher Gaze will host this year’s event and conductor William Rowson will lead the orchestra. It’s easy to catch a performance of A Traditional Christmas near you as this touring concert will be playing from December 10 to 20 at venues across the Lower Mainland, including St Andrew’s Wesley Church, Centennial Theatre and the Bell Performing Arts Centre. Tickets sell out quickly so book in advance.

’Tis the season for colourful foliage, cozy sweaters and pumpkin-spiced lattes. The best way to take advantage of the fall harvest period is to head out of town to a local farm to enjoy wagon rides, corn mazes, pumpkin patches and apple picking. If you’re planning an afternoon of autumnal family fun, check out these country farms near Vancouver.
Beards might be having a moment but you can’t beat the timeless appeal of a classic clean-cut look. Gents looking to tame their facial hair have plenty of options in Vancouver: take a DIY approach with luxurious at-home shaving supplies, or book a professional straight razor shave at a nostalgic barbershop or an upscale, modern salon. Whatever route you take, these local grooming spots can help you put your best face forward.
The royals have landed in Vancouver! The Duke and Duchess of Cambridge (aka: William and Kate) and their brood touched down in British Columbia this month to take in the unique sites and cultural attractions of the region. From English-inspired gardens to afternoon tea to a private helicopter ride, here’s how to tour Vancouver just like a (future) king and queen. [Photo credit: iStock.com/JPLDesigns]
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