The Shipyards Christmas Festival is a community event featuring live music and an artisan market at North Vancouver’s Shipbuilders’ Square in December.
Below you’ll find information about the festival in years when it does take place. You’ll also find a video of the Shipyards area in December of 2020 (so in a year when there isn’t a festival, but the place is still all lit up and looking festive).
2020 EVENT CANCELLED DUE TO COVID-19
Because of concerns about the coronavirus pandemic, the live festival in North Vancouver’s Lower Lonsdale area didn’t happen in 2020. The lighting of the Christmas tree did take place as a virtual event, and lights are still up in the neighbourhood for people to see. The festival itself, however, won’t be happening again until 2021.
Although the festival was cancelled, it doesn’t mean that the Shipyards area didn’t get nice and decorated during the Christmas season this year. To see what the neighbourhood looks like in December of 2020, check out the video below.
Christmas Festival at the Shipyards
Communities all across the Lower Mainland hold winter holiday celebrations where they light their city’s giant Christmas trees, offer family-friendly activities and enjoy live entertainment. The Shipyards Christmas Festival is the City of North Vancouver’s official Christmas event and it’s free!
The North Shore event usually takes place in the Shipyards District in the late afternoon and evening of the Saturday of the first weekend in December (with the artisan market continuing on the Sunday too).
In 2019 the festival took place on Saturday, November 30th, from 3:00 pm until 7:00 pm. The Shipyards Christmas Market, meanwhile, ran from 1:00 pm until 9:00 pm on the Saturday and then again on the Sunday from 10:00 am to 5:00 pm.
Unfortunately, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the Shipyards Christmas Market didn’t happen in 2020. Nor did the festival (except as a virtual event online).
The Shipyards Christmas Festival usually takes place in and around Shipbuilders’ Square which is located at the bottom of Lonsdale Avenue in North Vancouver just a short walk from Lonsdale Quay and the SeaBus Terminal. The Square’s address is 15 Wallace Mews and it’s just behind the Tap and Barrel restaurant and Pinnacle Hotel.
In addition to outdoor entertainment and activities, at the event there is also an Artisan Market in the Pipe Shop most years which is located at 115 Victory Ship Way right at Shipbuilders’ Square.
Festivals Date and Schedule
The Shipyards Christmas Festival took place on Saturday, November 30th, in 2019.
Typically, a number of activities take place throughout the evening, while some occur at specific times. The festival itself goes from around 3:00 until 7:00 pm, but the Artisan Market runs from 1:00 to 9:00 pm in the Pipe shop during years that it is safe to operate. The following day (so on Sunday December 1st in 2019), the market usually continues from around 10:00 am until 5:00 pm.
In 2019 North Vancouver’s Mayor lit the Christmas tree at 7:00 pm on the Saturday to conclude the festivities. Entertainment, crafts and photo opportunities with Santa ran from 3:00 until 7:00 pm.
Other activities in recent years have included pony rides, ornament and lantern-making craft opportunities, gingerbread decorating and face painting for kids. Boats with Christmas lights from the Burrard Yacht Club are also often scheduled to sail past the pier.
Activities confirmed for the event in 2019 included photo opportunities with Santa Claus, pony rides for little folk, lantern-making, cookie-decorating and face painting. There was also a balloon twisting station, storytelling and appearances by “Ollie the Otter” (from the Vancouver Aquarium) and “Salty the Seagull” (the mascot for the Port of Vancouver).
At the 2019 event free hot chocolate, coffee and tea were also available for everyone, as were kettle corn and popcorn (at least for the first 500 or so people). 2021 details will likely be similar to what happened the last time the festival was allowed to happen.
Festival Costs & Activities
The Shipyards Christmas Festival is a free event, although donations benefiting local charities are welcome. Most of the activities at the festival are free too.
At the event most years, there is an artisan market, along with live entertainment and other family-friendly fun.
In addition to the actual festival event, live entertainment also takes place in and around Shipyard Commons during the 10 or so days leading up to Christmas Day. In 2019 there was live entertainment every day during that period from 4 until 7 pm, and visits by Santa Claus between December 20th and 22nd.
Live music at the Shipyards between December 13th and 24th in 2019 included performances by the Caminando Carolers, Rio Samaya Band, Angelus Singers and CapU Jazz Students (with most on stage between around 5 and 7 pm).
Shipyards Christmas Artisan Market
In 2019 the Shipyards Christmas Market took place indoors at the Pipe Shop by Shipbuilders’ Square on Saturday, November 30th, from around 1:00 until 9:00 pm. At the market each year there are dozens of local artisan vendors selling everything from handmade soaps to homemade sauces to Christmas cards and other products.
The market was cancelled in 2020 due to the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully the market will return in 2021!
When the market does happen, it usually features dozens of vendors. Admission is free, which is awesome, but they also collect donations benefiting the North Shore Neighbourhood House which is a very worthwhile charity.
The market also usually takes place again on the Sunday of the same weekend too, so on December 1st in 2019, and then again on the following two weekends.
2019 dates and times for the Shipyard Christmas Market were the following:
- Saturday, November 30th (so the day of the Shipyards Christmas Festival) – from 1:00 until 9:00 pm
- Sunday, December 1st – from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm
- Saturday, December 7th – from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm
- Sunday, December 8th – from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm
- Saturday, December 14th – from 10:00 am until 6:00 pm
- Sunday, December 15th – from 10:00 am until 5:00 pm
In addition to the Artisan Market and various child-friendly activities, at North Vancouver’s Shipyards Christmas Festival there is also live entertainment on the outdoor stage when possible.
The entertainment schedule for 2019 was the following (and 2021 will likely be comparable):
- 3:20 pm – Lynnmour Elementary School Choir
- 4:00 pm – Sue Breton (a kid-friendly entertainer)
- 5:15 pm – the CapU Jazz Holiday Trio
- 6:00 pm – Seymour Dance School (performing a Nutcracker dance)
Other Shipyards Christmas Entertainment
In addition to the festival on November 30th in 2019, and the Shipyard Christmas Markets on the first three weekends in December, live entertainment also took place at Shipyard Commons (at the ice skating area) between December 13th and Christmas Eve.
Entertainment in 2019 happened daily between 4 and 7 pm from Friday, December 13th, until Tuesday, December 24th. Live music performances included the following between 5 and 7 pm each day:
- December 13th – Caminando Carolers
- December 14th – Angelus Singers
- December 15th – Caminando Carolers
- December 20th – Caminando Carolers
- December 21st – Rio Samaya Band
- December 22nd – Rio Samaya Band
- December 24th – Angelus Singers
From December 16th until the 19th, as well as on December 23rd, Jazz students from Capilano University also performed at various times.
For further details about the Shipyards Christmas Festival see the City of North Vancouver‘s website.
To learn more about the winter artisan market at the event that occurs in years without a pandemic, visit the North Vancouver Shipyards District website or check out our article about the Shipyards Christmas Market. Unfortunately, the market is not taking place in 2020.
For ideas on other things to do over the winter holiday season, check out any of the following:
- Best Christmas Activities
- Vancouver’s December Calendar of Events
- Lower Mainland Ski Hills
- Vancouver Winter Activities