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 2020 hot chocolate cooking classes.
Hot Chocolate Festival
2020 marks the 10th anniversary of Vancouver’s Hot Chocolate Festival. The event this year runs from January 18th 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 the official website for more.)
- 49th Parallel Coffee Roasters – with locations at 2902 Main Street in the Mt. Pleasant neighbourhood and at 2198 West 4th Avenue in Kitsilano.
- 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.
- 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 2020 event include the following:
- Beaucoup Bakery & Café – at 2150 Fir Street in Kitsilano. Their Hot Chocolate Festival specials are a white almond chocolate drink served in a cookie cup and a hot chocolate served over Banana Foster ice cream.
- Bel Café – at both 1780 West 3rd Avenue in Kitsilano and 801 West Georgia Street at Howe (at the beautiful Rosewood Hotel Georgia). Their 2020 drinks are a dark chocolate with chili and salt (January 18 – 31) and a milk chocolate with spice and carrot whipped cream (February 1 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 18 to 24, February 1 to 7) and a peanut butter hot chocolate with whipped cream and tiger bar bites (January 25 to 31, February 8 to 14).
- Butter Baked Goods – at 4907 MacKenzie Street (at 33rd Avenue). They are offering a choice of dark chocolate with Speculoos marshmallows or white chocolate with vanilla and a birthday cake topping.
- Cadeaux Bakery – at 172 Powell Street in Gastown. They are offering a choice of a vegan-friendly passionfruit hot chocolate or white chocolate and apple drink (January 18 to 31), and a jasmine-infused milk chocolate with a cookie or ruby hot chocolate infused with apricot and pomegranate with a cookie (February 1 to 14). (Closed on Mondays.)
- Cartems Donuts – at 2190 Main Street (near 6th Avenue), 534 West Pender Street and 3040 West Broadway in Kitsilano. Both locations are offering a choice of hot chocolate with coffee, Amaretto and nutmeg or a dark hot chocolate infused with bananas.
- Chez Christophe – at 4717 Hastings Street in Burnaby. They are offering a ruby hot chocolate with rosewater as well as a 34% hot chocolate with turmeric and cinnamon. (Closed on Sundays and Mondays).
- Chocolate Arts – at 1620 West 3rd Avenue in Kitsilano. They are offering a choice of dark hot chocolate with almond butter, whipped cream, marshmallows and caramel, milk hot chocolate with apple and cinnamon, or chili chocolate chai. (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. 2020 festival treats include a Guatemalan cardamom hot chocolate (January 18 to February 14), a Tanzanian white chocolate beverage with coconut milk and citrus (January 18 to 31), and a Dominican Republic hot chocolate with ginger and cloves (February 1 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 white hot chocolate with sesame (January 18 to 31) and a salted rosemary hot chocolate (February 1 to 14). The first comes with a black sesame shortbread and the second with a lemon rosemary shortbread. Yum!
- Gem Chocolates – at 2029 West 41st Avenue (near Kerrisdale Park). Their 2020 creations include a dark hot chocolate with more chocolate (January 18 to 24), a Star Wars-themed dark chocolate (January 25 to February 3) and a dark chocolate drink with ginger and cherry (February 4 to 11). (Note: They aren’t participating on February 12th, 13th and 14th).
- Glenburn Soda Fountain & Confectionary – at 4090 Hastings Street in Burnaby. They are serving a crème de menthe-infused dark hot chocolate (January 18 to 24), a Sarsaparilla milk hot chocolate (January 25 to 31), a banana and strawberry milk chocolate (February 1 to 7), and an oat milk hot chocolate (February 8 to 14). (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 hazelnut and cocoa, dark chocolate with salted whipped cream and white chocolate pearls, or a white hot chocolate with violets. (Closed Mondays).
- Mon Paris Patisserie – at 4396 Beresford Street in Burnaby. 2020 exotic treats include your choice of a dark hot chocolate with strawberry and jasmine, ruby chocolate infused with raspberry and rooibos tea, or a matcha and black sesame white chocolate. (Closed on Mondays.)
- Musette Caffé – at 1325 Burrard Street (a couple of blocks north of the Burrard Street Bridge). 2020 creations include a choice of a honey-lavender dark hot chocolate, a cinnamon and caramel milk chocolate, and a white hot chocolate with cookie milk.
- Perverted – an ice cream store “with a twist” at 797 Thurlow Street. Their 2020 festival drinks include a tiramisu hot chocolate with espresso and a kumquat and yuzu white hot chocolate.
- Thierry Chocolaterie Patisserie Cafe – at 1059 Alberni Street. Festival features in 2020 are a Peruvian hot chocolate (January 18 to 31) and a dark hot chocolate with almond (February 1 to 13). (Note: This venue is not participating in the festival on February 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: saffron, honey milk hot chocolate, white hot chocolate with rose and raspberry, praline-orange hot chocolate and dark hot chocolate with hibiscus.
- Uno Gelato – at 2579 West Broadway. Festival menu items for the season are a ruby hot chocolate with whipped cream and gold flakes, and a Turkish-inspired dark hot chocolate mixed with a local red wine.
- Soirette Patisserie & Bakery – at 1433 West Pender Street in Coal Harbour. 2020 featured treats include your choice of a strawberry and peach schnapps hot chocolate with cotton candy, a Peruvian-inspired mango hot chocolate, or a milk hot chocolate with Hojicha tea. (Closed Sundays and Mondays.)
In 2019, in addition to participating venues adding extra special drinks on their menus, there were a few cooking class events 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.
See the Italian Cultural Centre‘s calendar of events for more details.
2020 details for cooking classes are to be confirmed.
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 a list of great restaurants, click Lower Mainland Places to Eat and Drink.