Last year Gingerbread Lane ran daily at the Hyatt from November 30th until December 31st. Unfortunately, the event did not happen in 2020 because of the coronavirus pandemic. Hopefully it will be back in 2021.
Hyatt Gingerbread Lane
Located at 655 Burrard Street near Georgia, the edible Gingerbread Lane buildings are lovingly made by different bakeries, cooking institutes, restaurants, public schools and other people and organizations from around town.
Over 20,000 visitors admire the culinary creations each year and vote for their favourites. The attraction is free, with donations supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Gingerbread Lane isn’t big and it’s not really an “event”. It’s simply a display of impressive gingerbread houses that are free to admire (although visitors are encouraged to make a donation, and to vote for their favourites). In 2019 there were just over 30 houses.
Dropping by at the Hyatt to see the displays in December is something you do when you are already in the neighbourhood. It’s also a great activity to combine with a visit to major holiday attractions in the area in years that they’re open, including the Vancouver Christmas Market (at Jack Poole Plaza beside the convention centre, although not in 2020), and FlyOver Canada at Christmas (at Canada Place and which still happened in 2020).
What to Expect
The displays at Gingerbread Lane are scattered around on a number of seasonally decorated tables in the lobby of Vancouver’s Hyatt Regency Hotel.
As you enter the hotel lobby one of the first things you’ll see is a giant, almost life-size cookie house display. It’s not actually made out of real cookies, although for many years and until recently it was.
Near the giant Christmas cookie-house display you’ll find a donation box, ballot slips and a number of pencils. After you’ve finished viewing all the various artistic creations you are encouraged to make a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation, take a ballot and vote for your favourite entry.
Gingerbread Lane Past and Present
Assuming the event happens, it will be celebrating its 31st year in 2021, and Gingerbread Lane is ideal for people of all ages.
Every year there are between two and three dozen entries. Just a few of our favourites from recent years include the following:
- A city landscape by Kasian Architecture Interior Design. It looks like something sketched, but instead of with pen and on paper it’s with fine white icing on a carved-out canvas of gingerbread.
- A tower of a gingerbread house made by the pastry team at the Fairmont Waterfront Hotel.
- A gingerbread mansion made by students at David Thompson Secondary School under direction of a couple of professional chefs.
- “Christ Church Cathedral Advent in Christmas” made by Emily Cheung. It’s impressive as it’s a replica of a landmark Vancouver building that can be seen for real on the other side of Burrard Street just outside the Hyatt.
- A church made by chefs and chefs-in-training at the Pacific Institute of Culinary Arts.
In addition to the above there has also been a wonderful Peanuts’ Snoopy and his dog house, a Dr. Seuss Whoville, a house with Disney characters, an amazing The Lofts Show Suites and many more amazing creations.
Tips and Advice
Below are some suggestions and pieces of general information to help you make the most out of your visit to Gingerbread Lane at the Hyatt Regency.
TIP #1: There is a fair bit of street parking in the area, although it’s not inexpensive – as much as around $4 or more per half hour.
TIP #2: The Hyatt Regency is located conveniently close to the Burrard Street SkyTrain Station. It’s also right downtown and so close to numerous fancy shops and restaurants.
TIP #3: Gingerbread Lane isn’t a Christmas attraction that you’d typically drive across town especially to see and then go straight home afterwards. It’s a fabulous sight to see, but something to do while in downtown Vancouver anyway, perhaps after work, while shopping on nearby Robson Street, after visiting the Vancouver Christmas Market or before or after a nice meal at a restaurant.
TIP #4: Expect to stay for between 10 and 30 minutes, all depending on your interest in gingerbread houses.
TIP #5: Gingerbread Lane is a gingerbread house competition. There are a number of categories that teams compete in including schools, professional culinary groups and commercial businesses. If you like baking and decorating, the event is a great way to show off your talents, support a charitable cause and get your name out to the public. Gingerbread-house-making is also a fun activity to do with friends and colleagues. See below for participation details.
TIP #6: Make-A-Wish is a charity that grants wishes to children with terminal or life-threatening ailments. Examples of wishes granted include travel to places like Disneyland and meeting celebrities. It’s a great cause, so, if you can, when you vote for your favourite gingerbread house, donate generously!
TIP #7: When filling out your donation/voting ballot, make sure to write your name, e-mail address and the amount of your donation. If you do that you’ll be entered to win prizes!
TIP #8: Take photos and post your favourites plus comments to Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. If you do this it’ll help spread the word about this great free event, plus you might win a prize.
Gingerbread Lane Contests
In addition to raising money for the Make-A-Wish Foundation and being fun to look at, the Gingerbread Lane event offers numerous ways for people and organizations to be rewarded.
Prizes are usually available for groups entering the gingerbread contest, but also for people making donations and taking photos. Prizes include cash and valuable gift certificates.
Gingerbread Contestant Prizes
Gingerbread contest categories include school groups, corporations and professionals (i.e., chefs and bakeries) and there is at least one prize per category. For categories with only a small number of entries there might be only one or two prizes, but for categories with numerous entries there are prizes for first, second and third place.
Examples of prizes include gift certificates to the Hyatt and to the hotel’s restaurants. School groups can also win money for scholarships.
In addition to prizes awarded by a panel of judges there are also random draws, like for groups submitting their applications early. There is also the “People’s Choice” award which is open to all contestants and decided by people making donations and voting.
Did you know that when you make a donation to the Make-A-Wish Foundation at Gingerbread Lane you’re entered to win prizes yourself? That’s right – you can win without having to be artistic, talented with an icing bag and good at baking!
Gingerbread Lane is open to the public and people can go into the Hyatt and admire the displays 24 hours a day over the course of the Christmas season most years. After viewing all the edible artwork visitors are encouraged to take a ballot, make a donation and then vote for their favourite entry.
When you fill out your ballot, provided that you write your name, e-mail address and the amount of your donation legibly on the paper, you are entered in a draw to win valuable prizes including gift certificates.
Holiday Spirit Sweepstakes & Photo Prizes
In addition to there being draw prizes for people making donations, in past years visitors to Gingerbread Lane could also win prizes by taking photos and posting them to Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. 2021 details are to be confirmed.
In previous years prizes included a one night stay at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver and a $150 gift certificate for use in one of their restaurants.
Participating in the Gingerbread Lane
Gingerbread creations from up to forty different schools, corporations and culinary organizations are featured in Gingerbread Lane at the Hyatt each year and participation is free.
Applications for participation are accepted each year between around the 3rd week in September and late October. There are two submission dates in the fall and early entries are eligible for a bonus prize draw.
Participation in Gingerbread Lane is free and participants get fabulous publicity, the joy of supporting a worthwhile charitable cause and an invitation to the event’s opening reception. Some participants are also both lucky and talented enough to win prizes.
Gingerbread entries must meet certain guidelines, have their applications accepted and be both pretty to look at and solidly built (as they need to survive intact for over a month).
For information about participation contact Ellie Teano at firstname.lastname@example.org in the early fall.
For more information about Gingerbread Lane and the charity behind it, check out the Make-A-Wish Foundation website.
For information about the hotel venue, click Vancouver Hyatt Regency.
For more fun festive things to do in December, check out Vancouver’s December Events Calendar.
For more ideas on places to see Christmas lights in the Lower Mainland, check out Top Things to do at Christmas, (which includes more gingerbread houses at the Peak of Christmas event at Grouse Mountain).