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Vancouver’s Best Winter Activities

Christmas Market and North Shore Views

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!

 


WINTER ACTIVITIES & COVID-19

Because of the coronavirus pandemic, the winter of 2020/21 isn’t a typical winter. Some Christmas holiday activities and events have been possible, but others have been cancelled. Outdoor snow sports that are happening have also been impacted.

Before heading somewhere this winter, check official websites to ensure the venue you want to visit is open. Also, be sure to following government regulations with respect to what and with whom you can do things.


 

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).

Good indoor winter activities include ice skating at various rec centres around the region, staying indoors somewhere if it’s raining, and checking out a hockey game in the evenings.

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.

 

Abbotsford's Mill Lake in Winter
Abbotsford’s Mill Lake Park in Winter

 

Lower Mainland Ski Hills

Vancouver is famous for its world-class ski hills which include Grouse Mountain, CypressMount 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:

 

Sasquatch Mountain Resort
Sasquatch Mountain in the Hemlock Valley

 

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.)

For more great things to do during the Christmas season, check out December’s Calendar of Events or Vancouver’s Best Christmas Activities.

 

Bright Nights Christmas Illuminations
Bright Nights at Stanley Park

 

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 Information

Other articles that might be of interest include the following:

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.