There are many places in Metro Vancouver to see sparkling Christmas lights, admire seasonal decorations and enjoy the festive winter holiday season.
There are gardens with amazing illumination displays, gingerbread house competitions, Christmas musical performances, holiday markets to explore, popular attractions all lit up and a whole lot more.
Top Holiday Season Activities
Below are the top 10 places in Metro Vancouver to see Christmas lights, holiday decorations and get into the festive spirit.
1. Bright Nights at Stanley Park
Vancouver’s Stanley Park hosts the most amazing presentation of Christmas lights and festive themed displays in the Lower Mainland, with over three million sparkling lights viewed by gazillions of people each year. Admission is by donation, with funds going to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.
The classic night train costs about $9-$12 and requires waiting in line due to its popularity, but it’s fun for the kids. Bright Nights offers exceptional value and is our top choice for Christmas lights for young children.
Click Bright Nights at Stanley Park for more information.
Bright Nights was open from November 28, 2017, until January 6, 2018. We expect similar dates for 2018/2019.
2. Peak of Christmas at Grouse
Grouse Mountain in North Vancouver offers some of the best Christmas-time activities in the Lower Mainland. There are Christmas movies in their theatre, sleigh rides, Santa to visit and gingerbread houses all on display and included with admission. There is also ice skating, trails for snowshoeing, fine dining and of course the great ski slopes with their amazing views of Vancouver below.
At a cost of about $90 or so for a family, the Peak of Christmas isn’t cheap. Admission is included with a ski ticket or advance reservations for dinner at the Observatory Restaurant, however, which makes all the attractions suddenly become a pretty good deal.
Click Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain for more information.
The Peak of Christmas typically runs from late November until early January.
3. Lights at Lafarge
Lights at Lafarge is a Christmas attraction that features holiday lights and illuminations around the lake at Town Centre Park in Coquitlam.
The decorations are beautiful, the walk around the lake is most pleasant, the scenery is wonderful and the attraction is completely free! The venue is also conveniently located near the Lafarge Lake-Douglas SkyTrain Station. If you live in the area or have never been, we highly recommend it.
For more information, click Lights at Lafarge.
In 2018 the attraction will probably start up around November 24th and it typically runs until around the third week in January.
4. Heritage Christmas in Burnaby
Burnaby Village’s Heritage Christmas is the best holiday festive deal in Metro Vancouver – not only is it a great place to get into the Christmas mood, but it’s also free! It doesn’t have the best or largest displays of Christmas lights and decorations, but for the price they charge it’s still impressive, plus you get interesting pieces of history thrown in to boot!
Click Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village for more information.
In 2017 Heritage Christmas took place from November 25th until January 5th. It will probably run similar dates in 2018.
5. Hyatt Gingerbread Lane
For the best display of gingerbread houses in Vancouver, check out Gingerbread Lane downtown at the Hyatt Regency on Burrard Street near Georgia. The hotel’s foyer becomes home to dozens of beautiful and delicious-looking gingerbread creations. It’s not necessarily a destination of its own, but if you are in the area it’s worth a visit.
For more information, click Gingerbread Lane at the Hyatt Regency.
Note: Vancouver’s other exceptional place to see Christmas gingerbread displays is at the top of Grouse Mountain (see #2 above).
Most years the gingerbread houses are on display from early December until the beginning of January.
6. VanDusen Festival of Lights
Interested in seeing amazing light displays in Vancouver’s finest botanical garden? This is a must see! Prices range from about $11.50 to $19 or so per person.
Click VanDusen Festival of Lights for more information.
In 2018 the Festival of Lights will probably run from about November 30 to January 6th.
7. Canyon Lights at Capilano
Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver are not inexpensive, but they are amazing. Their Christmas lights win top prize for being tastefully displayed, and the bridges and unique walkways make this a one-of-a-kind Christmas experience.
Click Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge for more information.
In 2018, Lights is open from November 22 until January 27, 2019.
8. Holiday Hi-Light Festival
If you plan to be in North Vancouver and want to see some good free Christmas lights, then check out the displays at Park and Tilford mall. Admission is by donation.
The Holiday Hi-Light Festival illuminations aren’t as impressive as the lights at Stanley Park, or at more expensive places like VanDusen Garden or Capilano Suspension Bridge, but, considering they’re free, they are actually quite impressive and well worth checking out, especially during Family Nights which take place on Friday evenings in December.
Click Park and Tilford Holiday Hi-Light Festival for more information.
Open nightly from about December 1 until December 31.
9. Holidays Arts and Theatre
The Christmas season is a great time of year for music and the performing arts. There are choirs, orchestras and live plays taking place throughout the Lower Mainland. Some of the best music any time of the year is offered by the following musical groups:
- Vancouver Bach Choir
- Vancouver Symphony Orchestra
- Vancouver Chamber Choir
- Chor Leoni Men’s Choir (an exceptional group made up of largely professional singers).
- Vancouver Oratorio Choir (a 90 or so member choir of Christian vocalists and musicians).
- Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir (an excellent male voice choir).
- VOC Sweet Soul Gospel Choir (they do great performances throughout the year, including an especially festive one for Christmas each December).
Click Christmas Concerts 2017 for a sample list of performances and dates in the Lower Mainland from last year.
10. Vancouver Christmas Market
Vancouver’s Christmas Market features numerous German and other European-themed stalls selling all kinds of Christmas-y items, from souvenirs to European festival food to a range of festive “adult” beverages to help with the holiday season celebrations.
Although there are carousel rides and kids ages 6 and under are free, the place is more for adults than children, but still good for everyone. Regular admission ranges from around $5-$10. If you are looking for an outdoor market with interesting knick-knacks to see while enjoying mulled wine or cider with friends, then this can be a great place to be.
Click Vancouver Christmas Market for more information.
Typically open daily from 11 am until 9 pm between November 21st and December 24th.
For more ideas on things to do during the Christmas season, check out Vancouver’s Best Places’ December Calendar.
Other Christmas Activities
In addition to the above top 10 things to do at Christmas, below are other great holiday traditions.
Christmas Craft Fairs
November and December are the months for Christmas crafts fairs, and there are lots of them in Metro Vancouver. For a list of craft fairs click Lower Mainland Christmas Craft Fairs.
Christmas Plays & Theatre
The Christmas season is a great time to see a holiday show.
For a sample of a variety of theatre options from last year, click Vancouver December Theatre.
Christmas at Canada Place
If you plan to be in downtown Vancouver between mid-December and the end of the month, then check out The Canadian Trail along Canada Place‘s West Promenade. It’s just a few blocks from Waterfront Station, next door to the new Vancouver Convention Centre building, and only a few blocks from Gastown and the Vancouver Lookout at Harbour Centre.
Christmas at Canada Place takes place from late November until the end of December.
Other Christmas Activities
- Christmas plays and theatre throughout town – see Vancouver’s Shows and Entertainment Calendar for details.
- Robson Square Ice Skating – free ice skating from the beginning of December until February from 9 am to 9 pm daily, and until 11 pm on Fridays and Saturday nights.
- Christmas at the Cannery – the historic site at Steveston Village in Richmond is decorated with Christmas trees from area businesses all month, making December a good time to visit the Gulf of Georgia Cannery.
- Dundarave Festival of Lights – decorated Christmas trees in West Vancouver throughout December in the Forest of Miracles, and free concerts on the three Saturdays leading up to Christmas. It’s not a big event, but good to combine with a walk along the seawall on a sunny day in the late afternoon.
- Yule Duel: Caroling for a Cause – A friendly competition between choirs from across Metro Vancouver for a night of holiday entertainment benefiting a Downtown Eastside hospice. Takes place in Gastown on the sidewalks of Water Street one evening in December.
- A Fort Langley Christmas – Christmas-themed decorations and activities at the historic fort in the Fraser Valley (December 21-23 and 27-30, 2018).