The Vancouver Santa Claus Parade is a major Christmas event with floats, marching bands and Santa in downtown Vancouver on the first Sunday in December.
In 2019 the parade took place on Sunday, December 1st (which was the same day as the Surrey Santa Claus Parade in Cloverdale).
Note: Because of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Christmas parade in Vancouver was CANCELLED. Hopefully it will be able to take place again in 2021.
For a list of Santa Claus parades in other communities, click Lower Mainland Christmas Parades. For information about the parade in downtown Vancouver, see below.
Santa Claus Parade
The Vancouver Santa Claus Parade is an annual tradition that attracts over 300,000 people in good years. The event typically lasts for a couple of hours and features over 2500 participants, five dozen community organizations and hundreds of volunteers.
The parade is a free event, although spectators are encouraged to bring a non-perishable food or money donation benefiting the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. Each year the event collects considerable amounts of money and tons of food for the charity and the tens of thousands of people it supports.
In short, the Vancouver Santa Claus Parade is a fabulously festive event that’s especially popular with young families and benefits a great cause!
Below are details about the Christmas parade in a typical year including information about the parade route, start time, related family-friendly activities and the history of the event.
The parade itself usually starts at noon and lasts for around two hours. About five dozen or so marching bands, floats, dance groups and community organizations participate.
Starting at around 10 o’clock in the morning there is also pre-parade family-friendly entertainment outside the Vancouver Art Gallery.
Beginning at 12 o’clock, the Vancouver Santa Claus Parade begins at Broughton Street before proceeding along Georgia Street and then down Howe Street until Davie.
In total, from start to finish, the parade route is about 2 km in length.
Christmas Square Activities
In normal years, free pre-parade activities for families take place by the Vancouver Art Gallery from 10:00 am until parade time.
The Christmas Square event happens in the plaza on the north side of the Vancouver Art Gallery on Georgia Street. At the free event there is usually face painting, a station where children can write letters to Santa Claus and live music.
In 2020 the Vancouver Santa Claus Parade would have celebrated its 17th season! A couple of years ago was the event’s 15th year, but it almost wasn’t though.
For years Rogers had been the event’s title sponsor, but the communications giant finished doing that in 2016. Facing a consequent budget shortfall, the event was almost cancelled in 2017. Rival telecommunications giant Telus, however, came to the event’s rescue and so the tradition continues! Thanks for saving Christmas Telus!
Tips & Advice
Below are some suggestions to help you make the most out of your experience at the Vancouver Santa Claus Parade.
TIP #1: Get downtown early, like as much as an hour before the start, to get a good spot. After the parade begins, especially in the most popular areas, the crowds along the street get formidably thick!
TIP #2: Assuming you arrive early enough to claim a good viewing location, take a lawn chair or blanket to sit on. Also, don’t forget your camera, and an umbrella in case it looks like rain!
TIP #3: Dress warmly, pack a thermos of hot chocolate, and take a book or a well-charged phone to keep you comfortable and entertained while you wait for the show.
TIP #4: If you have young children, go extra early and check out the activities in the Christmas Square outside the Vancouver Art Gallery before the parade. Don’t stay there too long though as you’ll want to find a place your kids can see from along the parade route before the sidewalks get too overly packed.
TIP #5: The most crowded areas along the parade route are usually near and along Georgia Street, as well as the first half of the end of the route along Howe Street. Most years the least crowded areas are near the beginning and end of the route.
For further details about the annual Christmas event click Vancouver Santa Claus Parade.
For ideas on other Christmas-related things to do in the Lower Mainland, check out any of the following:
- Vancouver’s November and December Calendars of Events
- Top Things to do in Vancouver at Christmas
- Vancouver’s Best Christmas Activities (for a comprehensive list of over two dozen holiday activities and places to visit)
- Christmas Craft Fairs
- Vancouver’s Festivals & Events Calendar
- Vancouver’s Shows & Entertainment Calendar
- Christmas Concerts