Vancouver’s Granville Island is a great place to do Christmas shopping. You’ll find unique gifts, great restaurants and beautiful winter holiday illuminations.
Each year the entertainment district has Christmas lights and holiday decorations. The place looks festive between mid-November and early January. Admission is free.
To learn about what the neighbourhood looks like during the last seven or so weeks of the year, read our article below. Also below you’ll find a video showcasing the place at night during the Christmas season a few years ago.
TOP CHRISTMAS ATTRACTIONS
Wondering what some of the Lower Mainland’s other best Christmas attractions are? Then check out the PNE Winter Fair, Christmas Glow and the Vancouver Christmas Market. There is also the Soar with Santa film at FlyOver Canada and VanDusen Festival of Lights. In North Vancouver there is Canyon Lights at Capilano Bridge. New for 2023, there is also Martini Town Merry & Bright in Langley. For a list of even more places to visit, see our article about Top Things to do in Vancouver at Christmas.
Holiday Lights at Granville Island in November and December
Granville Island is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Vancouver throughout the year. It’s busiest in the summer, late spring and early fall, but equally interesting at other times of the year too. Towards the end of the year, the place has festive lights at night which makes the neighbourhood look extra magical.
Granville Island a great place to do your holiday shopping and support small, local businesses and artists at the same time. The neighbourhood is one of Vancouver’s top tourist attractions. You’ll know why when you visit. Out of town family and friends visiting you around Christmas will certainly appreciate a visit to Granville Island.
What to Expect During the Holiday Season
If you visit Granville Island between late November and the beginning of January you can expect to see beautiful lights and illuminations at night. During the day you’ll find all sorts of wonderful gift ideas in the shops. And at night, you can admire the illuminations, eat dinner at a restaurant and take in a show.
Over the Christmas season there are light displays at different places on the island. In the middle of the Granville Island courtyard, outside the Public Market by the waterfront, there is usually a giant star (or at least there has been in recent years).
On the other side of the market there are usually trees, buildings and other structures covered in lights to admire. At the southeast end of the island, not far from the Granville Island Hotel and Dockside Restaurant, the landmark industrial crane is often lit up and looking beautiful this time of year. The trees outside the Performance Works Theatre are usually full of giant sparkling musical note-shaped decorations. Closer to the middle of the island, Railspur Alley is lit up and looking extra pretty, as are a number of the other streets in the area.
While the lights are a great way to get into the Christmas spirit, there are other activities to make your time in the neighbourhood extra special. The place is home to a variety of unique specialty stores that are open until 6:00 pm most days this time of year. The Public Market is definitely worth a visit, as are the boutiques in the Net Loft and other shops around the site. There are also plenty of one-of-a-kind places to grab a bite to eat on the island.
Christmas Lights Video
To give you even more of an idea of what to expect at night at Granville Island during the Christmas season, check out the video below. It was filmed in November of 2020. The video begins with scenes of the historic industrial crane, the Granville Island Hotel and tree decorations near the Performance Works Theatre venue.
Other scenes in the video include lights along Johnson Avenue and Railspur Alley. There is also the star light sculpture by the waterfront, the Arts Club Theatre‘s Granville Island Stage, and all the many lights in front of the Granville Island Public Market.
The following video was taken in the late evening in the middle of November after the market and other stores had all closed. It was also raining off and on when we did the filming. That explains why there are so few people in the scenes. As you’ll see in the video though, the place looks quite magical. There aren’t lights everywhere, but, where they are, they are beautiful. Earlier in the evening, and later in the holiday season, the place can get lively and busy.
Hours and Admission
Admission to Granville Island is always free. The holiday lights and decorations are up from November 12th, 2023, until January 3rd, 2024. Parking during the Christmas season is free after 6:00 pm.
The Public Market has special holiday hours. It is usually closed on December 25th and the 26th, as well as on January 1st. In 2023 the market operates from 9:00 am to 6:00 pm most days of the season.
Operating hours of stores inside the Net Loft building vary. For most of December, however, the place is open between 10:00 am and 6:00 pm. The same as the Public Market, stores in the Net Loft are usually closed on December 25th and 26th, and then again on January 1st. The Kids Market operates during similar hours and dates most years.
Tips & Advice
Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most of your visit to the neighbourhood during the Christmas holiday season.
TIP #1: If you go between around 4:00 pm and 6:00 pm, you can see all the Christmas lights but also shop while the market and all the stores are still open. And even if you stay even later, you can still enjoy dinner while you’re there.
TIP #2: The False Creek Seawall goes right by Granville Island. If you go earlier in the day, and want to go for a walk while enjoying world-class views of the city, the seawall is a great place to do that. It’s also a great activity to combine with a visit to Granville Island for a bit of shopping and a bite to eat.
TIP #3: The Granville Island Hotel is a boutique hotel that gets really good reviews. It’s a great place to stay if you want a mini vacation and to base yourself close to some of Vancouver’s most interesting shops, theatres and restaurants.
TIP #4: StayVancouverHotels.com is a website where you can get bonus perks when you make reservations at participating downtown Vancouver hotels, including the Granville Island Hotel. Check it out if you want to stay the night somewhere. You’ll get at least a $25 gift card for something nice. The perks sometimes though can be worth quite a bit more.
TIP #5: If you go to Granville Island at night, be sure to explore the whole neighbourhood. The majority of the illuminations are concentrated outside the Public Market and around Triangle Square, but there are Christmas lights in other areas too.
To learn more about the district, see our article about Granville Island.
For more information regarding the Christmas lights on the island, see the Granville Island website.
Other articles that may be of interest include the following:
- Shopping on Granville Island
- Vancouver’s Best Christmas Activities
- Christmas Craft Fairs in the Lower Mainland
- Lower Mainland Events in December
- Free Events in December