The Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival is a local excuse for people to treat themselves to mugs of gourmet hot cocoa from some of the city’s best cafes.
See below for information about the event from past years, including a list of participating venues and details about hot chocolate cooking classes.
Hot Chocolate Festival
2022 marked the 12th anniversary of Vancouver’s Hot Chocolate Festival. Last year the event ran from January 16th until February 14th (which was Valentine’s Day). Dates for the 2022 festival were January 15th to February 14th.
As a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, most restaurants in 2021 offered takeout-only options for the Hot Chocolate Festival. Some restaurants offered limited in-restaurant dining, but folk were encouraged to take their hot chocolate creations to go. In 2022, more restaurants offered dine-in service, but many still only offered takeout.
Close to three dozen cafes, bakeries and chocolatiers throughout the region usually participate in the event by offering extra special gourmet cups of hot chocolate on their menus. Even a few gelato and specialty ice cream shops join in too!
In 2022 44 venues participated in the festival. Each place offered a special selection of hot chocolate creations during the festival. Ingredients included everything from white chocolate to dark chocolate, Belgian chocolate, exotic whipped creams, torched marshmallow, cookie crumbs and even ice cream!
It’s not really a “festival” …
The festival isn’t so much a “festival” as an excuse to indulge, warm yourself up and try different cafes around town. In fact, often when you go to a venue you have to look around for their Hot Chocolate Festival menu. It’s a pretty subtle “festival,” but the drinks are good and usually somewhat out of the ordinary.
At the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival don’t expect parades, balloons, live entertainment, fireworks or even craft activities and face painting for children. It’s not that kind of festival at all. Again, it’s an excuse for a unique cup of hot chocolate, but a good one!
Given that Vancouver’s winter can start to get dreary by the end of January and early February, any excuse to indulge in something like hot chocolate is a welcome opportunity!
Venues that participated in the 2022 festival include the following:
(Note: Venue and menu details are subject to change.)
Downtown Vancouver Locations (in 2022)
- Cadeaux Bakery – at 172 Powell Street in Gastown. They are offering two gluten-free drinks (caramelized strawberry hot chocolate and another infused with pear, figs and ginger). The other drink can be made gluten-free and is served on coconut and blueberry ice cream.
- East Van Roasters – an artisan chocolate and coffee shop that uses organic fair trade beans in Gastown at 39 Carrall Street in Gastown. 2022 festival treats include a dairy-free passionfruit and white chocolate drink (January 15 to 29) and a caramel hot chocolate infused with corn (February 1 to 14).
- Mink Chocolates & Café – at 863 West Hastings Street not far from Canada Place. The two drinks on offer this year are milk chocolate with marshmallow truffle and a ruby chocolate ganache.
- Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Café – a chocolatier patisserie and cafe in downtown Vancouver at 1059 Alberni Street. In 2022, one hot chocolate features coffee cream, black pepper and mint, while the other offering is an almond, chocolate and cinnamon beverage.
Elsewhere Within the City of Vancouver (in 2022)
- Gem Chocolates – at 2029 West 41st Avenue (near Kerrisdale Park). Their 2022 creations include a mint and orange fusion (January 15 to 22) along with a South-American hot chocolate with caramel, nutmeg, chili powder and more (January 24 to February 2). The third offering is a lime and chili hot chocolate (February 3 to 11).
- 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters – with locations at 2902 Main Street in the Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood and at 2198 West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano. 2022 flavours are caramel popcorn hot chocolate (January 15 to 28) and a tea hot chocolate served with a doughnut (January 29 to February 11).
- Beaucoup Bakery & Café – at 2150 Fir Street in Kitsilano. Their Hot Chocolate Festival specials are a “Strawberry Pocky” inspired hot chocolate (January 15 to 31) and another honey butter beverage with potato chips on the side (February 1 to 14).
- Bel Café – at both 1780 West 3rd Avenue in Kitsilano and 801 West Georgia Street at Howe (at the beautiful Rosewood Hotel Georgia). Their 2022 drinks are a rum hot chocolate (January 15 – 29) and a peanut butter hot chocolate (January 30 – February 14).
- Butter Baked Goods – at 4907 MacKenzie Street (at 33rd Avenue). In 2022 they are offering a hot chocolate with marshmallow, one with raspberry jam, and another with white chocolate and sprinkles.
- Eternal Abundance – an organic vegan grocery store and cafe at 1025 Commercial Drive (a couple of blocks from Venables). They are serving a shiro miso hot chocolate (January 15 to 31) and white hazelnut hot chocolate (February 1 to 14). The first comes with red bean shortbread and the second comes with hazelnut shortbread.
- Koko Monk Chocolates – a chocolatier at 1849 West 1st Avenue in Kitsilano. In 2022 there are four gluten-free hot chocolates on offer at different times of the festival. For example, there’s one with hazelnut and peppercorn and another with guava and caramel a couple weeks later.
- La Glace – an ice cream shop at 2785 West 16th Avenue. They offer three different drinks throughout the entire festival this year. One of the options is vegan with Valrhona hot chocolate poured over coconut ice cream.
- Uno Gelato – at 2579 West Broadway. Festival menu items for the 2022 season are a Mexican-inspired hot chocolate and a dairy-free Royal Midnight Float.
Elsewhere in Metro Vancouver (in 2022)
- BjornBar Bakery – at 3053 Edgemont Boulevard in North Vancouver. They are serving tiramisu hot chocolate and maple walnut hot chocolate.
- Caffe Artigiano – a coffee and pastry shop at both 4010 Main Street in Vancouver and 3154 Highland Boulevard in North Vancouver. Their 2022 hot chocolate flavours are peanut-marshmallow and salted miso.
- Chez Christophe – at 4717 Hastings Street in Burnaby and 1558 Johnston Road in White Rock. In 2022 they are serving a caramel hot chocolate and a salty cocoa hot chocolate.
- Glenburn Soda Fountain & Confectionary – at 4090 Hastings Street in Burnaby. They are serving a white hot chocolate, dark hot chocolate and milk hot chocolate this year.
- Mon Paris Patisserie – at 4396 Beresford Street in Burnaby. 2022 treats include your choice of a caramel citrus hot chocolate or a dark hot chocolate with blackcurrant.
- Thomas Haas – a chocolate and pastry shop with locations at 2539 West Broadway in Vancouver and at 128-988 Harbourside Drive in North Vancouver. 2022 offerings are a white hot chocolate with pear and passionfruit, as well as a dark hot chocolate with pistachio marshmallow.
Other Places in Previous Years
Other places that participated in the event in previous years included the following:
- Cartems Donuts – at 2190 Main Street (near 6th Avenue), 534 West Pender Street and 3040 West Broadway in Kitsilano. Both locations offered a choice of hot chocolate with coffee, Amaretto and nutmeg or a dark hot chocolate infused with bananas.
- Earnest Ice Cream – an environmentally-responsible gourmet ice cream company with a location in East Vancouver at 3992 Fraser Street, another about six blocks from Science World at 1829 Quebec Street, and one in North Vancouver at 127 West 1st Avenue.
- Perverted – an ice cream store “with a twist” at 797 Thurlow Street. Their 2020 festival drinks included a tiramisu hot chocolate with espresso and a kumquat and yuzu white hot chocolate.
- Soirette Patisserie & Bakery – at 1433 West Pender Street in Coal Harbour. 2021 featured treats included your choice of a vegan pink grapefruit dark hot chocolate or a Tik Tok-inspired cereal hot chocolate.
- TrafiQ Café & Bakery – at 4216 Main Street. This place served two out of four of the following creations at various times over the course of the festival: saffron, honey milk hot chocolate, white hot chocolate with rose and raspberry, praline-orange hot chocolate and dark hot chocolate with hibiscus.
In 2019, in addition to participating venues adding extra special drinks on their menus, there were a few cooking classes too.
On January 23rd and 30th, 2019, there were Italian Hot Chocolate Throughout The Ages classes that featured different styles of regional Italian hot chocolates. The events took place from 6:30 to 9:00 pm at the Trattoria at the Italian Cultural Centre at 3075 Slocan Street. The cost for each was $60.
On February 6th there was also a Hot Chocolates of the World cooking class at the Trattoria restaurant at the Italian Cultural Centre. This time the class was about hot chocolates from Italy, Colombia, the Philippines and Mexico. The cost for this event was also $60.
The cooking classes did not take place in 2021 or 2022 due to COVID-19 restrictions. Hopefully they can return in future years.
For the most up-to-date information, see the Italian Cultural Centre‘s calendar of events.
Tips & Advice
Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most out of your Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival experience.
TIP #1: Remember, it’s a season of exotic drink specials more than a festival. Don’t expect anything flashy – just mugs of extra-delicious hot chocolate.
TIP #2: Don’t drive across town for your hot chocolate and then drive immediately back. That would be silly! The drinks are good, but not that good! Instead, if you happen to be in an area and you love exotic chocolate treats, check out a participating place nearby. Or, if you see something you definitely want to try, then explore the surrounding area either before or after or combine it with a trip somewhere else.
TIP #3: Note that some places offer a choice of “official festival drinks” throughout the full festival season. Others though offer just one drink per week, so you don’t get a choice. That being said, however, of course all venues offer regular menu items every day of the week too.
TIP #4: Most places serve their drinks with a biscuit, macaron, scoop of gelato or other small treat, but not all.
TIP #5: Depending on your tastes, most of the drinks offered each season are delicious and decadent. Others, however, are arguably a bit weird (or at least not for everyone). Personally, for example, I think I’ll leave the flower-scented hot chocolates to others (who I’m sure will appreciate them more than me).
TIP #6: Don’t just visit the above places during the Hot Chocolate Festival and just for their festival specials. Participating venues are some of the region’s finest cafés, chocolatiers and bakeries. Check out their full selection of menu items any time of year!
Visit the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival website for more details and the full list of participating restaurants.
For a list of great restaurants, click Lower Mainland Places to Eat and Drink.