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, a list of participating venues and details about 2019 hot chocolate cooking classes.
Hot Chocolate Festival
The 2019 Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival runs from January 19th until February 14th (the last day of which is Valentine’s Day).
Close to three dozen cafes, bakeries and chocolatiers throughout the region 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!
Each participating venue offers a special selection of hot chocolate creations during the festival. Ingredients include 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 Vancouver Hot Chocolate 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!
Some of the festival’s participating venues most years include the following:
(Note: Venue and menu details are subject to change. See location websites or click Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival for exact details.)
- 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters – with locations at 2902 Main Street in the Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood and at 2198 West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano.
- Diva at the Met – a fancy restaurant at the Metropolitan Hotel at 645 Howe Street in downtown Vancouver.
- 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.
- Koko Monk Chocolates – a chocolatier at 1849 West 1st Avenue in Kitsilano.
- Mink Chocolates & Café – at 863 West Hastings Street not far from Canada Place.
- Temper Chocolate and Pastry – at 2406 Marine Drive in West Vancouver.
- Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Café – a chocolatier patisserie and cafe in downtown Vancouver at 1059 Alberni Street.
- Thomas Haas – a chocolate and pastry shop with locations at 2539 West Broadway in Vancouver and at 128-988 Harbourside Drive in North Vancouver.
Other places participating in the 2019 event include the following:
- Baggio Gelateria & Pizzeria – at 1089 Marinaside Crescent in Yaletown. Their 2019 hot chocolate specials include a dark chocolate with Bailey’s (for ages 19+), a white chocolate with green tea matcha, and a tiramisu one with a scoop of gelato. The restaurant also has Happy Hour daily from 2:30 until 5:30 pm when they offer specials on pizza, beer and wine. (Closed on Mondays.)
- Beaucoup Bakery & Café – at 2150 Fir Street in Kitsilano. Their Hot Chocolate Festival specials are a lemongrass white chocolate latte and a hazelnut rosemary hot chocolate (both served with a macaron).
- Bel Café – at both 1780 West 3rd Avenue in Kitsilano and 801 West Georgia Street at Howe (at the beautiful Rosewood Hotel Georgia). Their 2019 drinks are a white chocolate with raspberry and rose (January 19 – February 2) and a milk chocolate with caramel and hazelnuts (February 3 to 14).
If wanting to stay at the Rosewood Hotel Georgia, or any of 3 dozen other great downtown Vancouver hotels, check out StayVancouverHotels.com for competitive rates and bonus offers.
- BjornBar Bakery – at 3053 Edgemont Boulevard in North Vancouver. They are serving a dark chocolate with mini chocolate “b-bombs” on top (January 19 to 25), a white chocolate coconut hot chocolate (January 26 to February 1), a salted caramel white chocolate (February 2 to 8) and then again whichever of the first three beverages that proves the most popular in the final week (of February 9 to 14).
- Butter Baked Goods – at 4907 MacKenzie Street (at 33rd Avenue). They are offering a choice of dark chocolate with salted caramel or Earl Grey tea with white chocolate and lemon zest.
- Cadeaux Bakery – at 172 Powell Street in Gastown. They are offering a choice of a “detox rich, caramelized white hot chocolate steeped in ginger and spices” or a dairy-free vegan coconut dark hot chocolate. (Closed on Mondays.)
- Cartems Donuts – at 2190 Main Street (near 6th Avenue) and 3040 West Broadway in Kitsilano. Both locations are offering a choice of raspberry white chocolate with “rose-water whipped cream and dried rose petals” or a dark hot chocolate with almond milk, slivered almonds and spices. Not surprisingly, both are served with your choice of donut.
- Chez Christophe – at 4717 Hastings Street in Burnaby. They are offering a dark hot chocolate with roasted strawberry as well as a white hot chocolate with honey and lemon. (Closed on Mondays).
- Chocolate Arts – at 1620 West 3rd Avenue in Kitsilano. They are offering a choice of maple dark hot chocolate, espresso hazelnut hot chocolate or caramel hot chocolate. (Closed on Sundays).
- East Van Roasters – an artisan chocolate and coffee shop that uses organic fair trade beans in Gastown at 39 Carrall Street in Gastown. 2019 festival treats include a tamari caramel dark hot chocolate (January 19 to February 1) and a Tanzanian white chocolate beverage with coconut milk and citrus (February 2 to 14). (Closed on Sundays).
- Eternal Abundance – an organic vegan grocery store and cafe at 1025 Commercial Drive (a couple of blocks from Venables). They are serving a hot chocolate with caramel (January 19 to February 1) and a raspberry and premium cacao (February 2 to 14). The first comes with a maple shortbread and the second with a piece of raspberry cheesecake. Yum!
- Gem Chocolates – at 2029 West 41st Avenue (near Kerrisdale Park). Their 2019 creations include a lavender-infused hot chocolate with blackberry (January 19 to 25), a strawberry chocolate (January 26 to February 2) and a rare Peruvian chocolate drink (February 3 to 12). (Note: They aren’t participating on February 13th and 14th).
- Glenburn Soda Fountain & Confectionary – at 4090 Hastings Street in Burnaby. They are serving a smoky oak-infused dark hot chocolate (January 19 to 25), a toasted marshmallow white hot chocolate (January 26 to February 1) and a cinnamon milk chocolate with Fireball liqueur (February 2 to 8). On the last week (February 9 to 14) they’ll again serve whichever of their three previous drinks proves the most popular. (Closed on Mondays).
- Koko Monk Chocolates – at 1849 West 1st Avenue and 2883 West Broadway. They serve “raw, organic, vegan, bean-to-bar boutique chocolates”. Both locations offer a different beverage each week of the festival and are closed on Mondays .
- La Glace – an ice cream shop at 2785 West 16th Avenue. They are serving a choice of dark hot chocolate with a small scoop of ice cream or a white hot chocolate with orange blossom. (Closed Mondays and Tuesdays).
- Mon Paris Patisserie – at 4396 Beresford Street in Burnaby. 2019 exotic treats include your choice of a dark maple and spice hot chocolate or a milk chocolate pandan with freeze-dried durian and toasted coconut. (Pandan, for most of us that don’t know, is normally a light Southeast Asian sponge cake made with the juice of a tropical plant.) (Closed on Mondays.)
- Musette Caffé – at 1325 Burrard Street (a couple of blocks north of the Burrard Street Bridge). 2019 creations include a choice of a hot chocolate with caramel, honey-lavender dark hot chocolate and an Amaretto hot chocolate.
- Perverted – an ice cream store “with a twist” at 797 Thurlow Street. Their 2019 festival drinks include a dark cinnamon and cayenne hot chocolate and a kumquat and yuzu white hot chocolate. (Closed on Mondays.)
- Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe – at 1059 Alberni Street. Festival features in 2019 are a hot chocolate with coffee foam and nutmeg (January 19 to February 2) and a dark hot chocolate with chili whipped cream (February 3 to 12). (Note: This venue is not participating in the festival on February 13 & 14.)
- TrafiQ Café & Bakery – at 4216 Main Street. This place is serving two out of four of the following creations at various times over the course of the festival: hot chocolate with matcha and pistachio, chai hot chocolate with espresso, praline-orange hot chocolate and Tres Leches white hot chocolate with cinnamon and rose petals.
- Uno Gelato – at 2579 West Broadway. Festival menu items for the first couple of weeks (so January 19 to February 1) are a dark hot chocolate blend with organic milk and a coconut milk hot chocolate topped with rice powder. On the menu for the second half of the festival (so February 2 to 14) are a choice of a blended hot chocolate with espresso and whiskey or a coconut water and milk chocolate with lemon loaf flavouring. All four come with your choice of organic dairy or vegan gelato.
- Soirette Patisserie & Bakery – at 1433 West Pender Street in Coal Harbour. 2019 featured treats include your choice of a dark hot chocolate with coconut ash and black sesame or a blueberry cheesecake and butterfly pea white hot chocolate. (Closed Sundays and Mondays.)
2019 Cooking Classes
In 2019, in addition to participating venues adding extra special drinks on their menus, there are a few cooking class events too.
On January 23rd and 30th, 2019, there are Italian Hot Chocolate Throughout The Ages classes that feature different styles of regional Italian hot chocolates. The events take place from 6:30 to 9:00 pm at the Trattoria at the Italian Cultural Centre at 3075 Slocan Street. The cost for each is $60.
On February 6th there is also a Hot Chocolates of the World cooking class at the Trattoria restaurant at the Italian Cultural Centre. This time the class is about hot chocolates from Italy, Colombia, the Philippines and Mexico. The cost for this event is also $60.
See the Italian Cultural Centre‘s calendar of events for more details.
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 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 (from January 19th to February 14th). 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!
TIP #7: Don’t forget that the Vancouver Dine Out Festival also runs for the last half of January and first couple of days in February. With that event you get fancy yet discounted 3-course dinner specials at hundreds of restaurants throughout the Lower Mainland.
For more information on the event and the full list of participating locations see the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival website.
For a list of great restaurants, click Lower Mainland Places to Eat and Drink.