In 2023 the event happened on Friday, December 1st.
Christmas Tree Lighting in Downtown Vancouver
Last year, the festivities took place on December 1st at 6:00 pm. The event happens outside the Vancouver Art Gallery. The Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting is a free family-friendly event with live entertainment and hot chocolate.
This is one of many free Christmas-themed events that happen in the Lower Mainland. Others include Bright Nights at Stanley Park, Lights at Lafarge in Coquitlam, and the Dundarave Festival of Lights in West Vancouver.
Other fabulous Christmas attractions in the City of Vancouver include the Vancouver Christmas Market and PNE Winter Fair. There is also the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Garden and the Soar with Santa film at FlyOver Canada. On the North Shore there is Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge. In the Fraser Valley there is Christmas Glow and Martini Town Merry & Bright.
For a list of other festive activities this time of year, see our article about Top Things to do in Vancouver at Christmas. To learn about the Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting event, however, continue reading.
About the Event
The Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting event will be celebrating its 18th year in 2024. It takes place in the plaza outside the Vancouver Art Gallery on Georgia Street between Howe and Hornby.
At the event there is a giant Christmas tree over 70 feet tall that is lit. There is also a stage for the live performances and a station for hot chocolate to warm up with. Special messages from Vancouver’s mayor and city council members feature as well. Santa Claus makes an appearance, so a chance for colourful photo opportunities
In addition to being a free, fun and family-friendly community event, the occasion is also sometimes a fundraiser for the Vancouver International Children’s Festival. Donations collected both before and during the event benefit the work it does, which includes putting on a festival for kids on Granville Island in late May and early June. In 2023 the event also raised funds for the BC Children’s Hospital and Honour House.
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 one bulb or $10 for three. 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.
As of late November, the entertainment lineup for 2023 was still to be confirmed.
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. Its 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. The choir is lots of fun and the music will get your feet tapping!
Other Christmas Tree Lighting Events
The Vancouver Art Gallery 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 also has its official tree lighting event on a Saturday at either the end of November or the beginning of December.
To learn more about the event, click Vancouver Tree Lighting.
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