Vancouver is world famous for its winter activities like skiing and other snow sports. The city also has amazing Christmas holiday attractions.
Outdoor winter sport activities include downhill and cross-country skiing, snowboarding, snowshoeing, skating, tubing and more. The 2010 Winter Olympics weren’t in this city for nothing!
Vancouver Winter Things to Do
Outdoor winter sport activities usually start around early December and go until April. The snow is typically best from late December until early February, but the spring skiing weather can be fantastic (but warm and on the slushy side).
Parks can be nice places to visit in the winter on sunny days. Some parks are better than others though. Unless you want to go snowshoeing, parks in the mountains are usually buried in snow by mid to late November. Parks with lakes or oceanfront are nice in all four seasons, as are ones where the leaves stay green all year long. For a list of places to check out, see our article about Lower Mainland Parks & Nature.
Lower Mainland Ski Hills
Vancouver is famous for its world-class ski hills which include Grouse Mountain, Cypress, Mount Seymour, Sasquatch Mountain and (further afield) Whistler-Blackcomb. The first three are smaller, but located on the North Shore just minutes from downtown Vancouver. Whistler-Blackcomb is close to a two-hour drive away, but it’s also one of the best ski resorts in the world, so definitely worth the trip.
Click Lower Mainland’s Ski Hills for general information on the area’s various mountains (including a comparison of the different locations).
To learn about snowshoeing opportunities, see the above articles about individual ski hills, or check out the following two articles:
There are a few places in the Lower Mainland where you can rent Ski-Doos and go on snowmobiling tours. The Adventure Group in Whistler, for example, offers guided tours at both beginner and intermediate levels.
To learn about snowmobiling opportunities in Whistler see the website WhatToDoInWhistler.ca.
Christmas Activities in Vancouver
There is always a lot to do in Vancouver around Christmas time. Here are some of the highlights:
- Christmas Lights at VanDusen Garden (although cancelled in 2020).
- Enjoy mulled wine while shopping at the Vancouver Christmas Market (from late November until late December, although not in 2020 due to COVID-19).
- Holiday decorations and family-friendly activities at Glow Christmas in Langley.
- Cameo appearances by Santa Claus at the multi-dimensional theatre experience at FlyOver Canada at Christmas. (although cancelled part way through the season in 2020).
- Visit Burnaby Village Museum and enjoy their Heritage Christmas decorations (all of December, although not at all in 2020).
- Bright Nights at Stanley Park showcases an amazing display of Christmas lights put on annually as a fundraiser for the Burn Fund by the Vancouver Firefighters. (Note: This event was also cancelled in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic.)
- Christmas Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge. (Note: The annual evening “event” was cancelled. The decorations were still up over the Christmas season during the day though, up until 6 pm each evening.)
- Sleigh rides, gingerbread houses, skiing and skating at Grouse Mountain’s Peak of Christmas. (Note: The event was cancelled in 2020, although there were still Christmas lights and various snow sport activities taking place.)
Vancouver in Sun and Snow
It doesn’t snow very often at lower elevations in Vancouver, and in winter there isn’t always a lot of sun. When there’s sun in the sky and snow on the ground, however, the region becomes especially magical, as evident in the video below.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver Activities in Summer and Autumn
- Vancouver’s November, December, January and February Calendars
- Outdoor Recreation in the Lower Mainland
Another website you might be interested in is WhatToDoInWhistler.ca. It highlights the best things to see and do in the resort town of Whistler.