In 2020, because of the coronavirus pandemic, the live event got cancelled. In its place, the lighting of the tree was a virtual event on Friday, November 27th, at 6 pm. People could watch the lighting of the tree online and on TV from the comfort of their homes. And after that date, real lights and decorations have been available for people to enjoy on their own later throughout the rest of the holiday season.
Christmas Tree Lighting at Robson Square in Downtown Vancouver
The City of Vancouver’s official Christmas tree lighting event usually happens between around 6:00 and 7:00 pm in Robson Square. In years when there isn’t a global pandemic, it’s a free family-friendly event and features live entertainment, cookies and hot chocolate.
About the Event
The Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting event celebrated its 13th year in 2019. In past years it has taken place in the plaza outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Georgia Street between Howe and Hornby, and it did so again in 2019. The year before though, in 2018, it took place on the other side of the Gallery, in Robson Square, in the 800 block of Robson Street. The location in 2021 is to be confirmed.
Similar to previous years, at the event in 2019 there was a giant Christmas tree that was over 70 feet tall that got lit up. There was also a stage for the live performances and stations for the free cookies and hot chocolate.
In addition to being a free, fun and family-friendly community event, the occasion is also a fundraiser for the Vancouver International Children’s Festival. Donations collected both before and during the event benefit the work they do, which includes putting on a festival for kids on Granville Island in late May and early June.
As part of the fundraising event, attendees are encouraged to “buy” Christmas light bulbs to help light up the trees. They cost about $5 for 5 bulbs or $10 for 15 (or more if you want to be extra generous). You don’t actually get light bulbs to take home with you – they are just a symbolic way for people to donate to the charitable cause.
2019 entertainment was similar to that of the previous year. Bands performing at the event in 2018 were Side One and the VOC Sweet Soul Gospel Choir. Side One was back again in 2019.
Side One is an event band with different performers based in Vancouver, Calgary, Toronto and Seattle. Their repertoire ranges from Aretha Franklin to Lady Gaga, the Beatles, Queen and everything in between.
The VOC Sweet Soul Gospel Choir is a dynamic Vancouver-based chorale group led by the charismatic Checo Tohomaso. They are lots of fun and will get your feet tapping!
Other Christmas Tree Lighting Events
The Robson Square party isn’t the only Christmas tree lighting event in the Lower Mainland. Surrey has an even bigger event on a Saturday in late November. It includes a full afternoon and evening of performances and family-friendly activities. The City of North Vancouver, meanwhile, usually has its official tree lighting event on a Saturday at either the end of November or beginning of December.
For information about these two other events check out the Surrey Christmas Tree Lighting Festival or Shipyards Christmas Festival. For other similar events in other communities see our December Calendar.
For lists of other events usually taking place this time of year check out the following:
- December Calendar of Events
- Best Christmas Activities
- Top Things to do at Christmas in Vancouver
- Shows & Entertainment Calendar
- Vancouver Christmas Concerts