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Vancouver’s Granville Island at Christmas

Holiday Lights at Granville Island

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 is decorated with Christmas lights and holiday decorations between around mid-November and early January. Admission is free, and so is the parking!

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 in 2020.

 

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. During the last seven or so weeks of the year, the place is lit up at night with festive lights which makes the neighbourhood look extra magical.

If you are looking for unique Christmas gift ideas and want to support small local businesses and BC-based artists and artisans, there is no better place to shop than Granville Island.

Granville Island is one of Vancouver’s top tourist attractions. If you go you’ll see why. And if you have friends or family visiting from out of town, be sure to introduce them to the place. They’ll love it!

 

Star Light Display at Granville Island
Star Light Sculpture at the Waterfront

 

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 in the evening 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 2020, in the middle of the Granville Island courtyard outside the Public Market by the waterfront, there was a giant star. The star returned to the courtyard between November 12th and 30th in 2021.

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. Outside the Performance Works Theatre in 2020, the trees were full of giant sparkling musical note-shaped decorations. Closer to the middle of the island, Railspur Alley is usually lit up and looking extra pretty, as are a number of the other streets in the area.

Some of these illuminations likely returned in 2021 as well. Seasonal lighting was scheduled to remain on display until January 3rd in 2022. Details for next season are to be confirmed.

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.

 

Granville Island Crane
The Crane at Night

 

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 following video. 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, 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. It was late, after the market and other stores had all closed. It was also raining off and on when we did the filming, which 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 (but still comfortably so).

 

 

Hours and Admission

Admission to Granville Island is always free. The holiday lights and decorations were up from mid-November in 2020 until early January in 2021. We expected the lights to be up from November 12th, 2021 until January 3rd, 2022. Parking during the Christmas season is usually free.

The Public Market has special holiday hours. It is usually closed on December 25th and the 26th, as well as on January 1st. The market was open daily in 2020 though from December 1st until the 23rd between 9:00 am and 6:00 pm. On Christmas Eve and New Year’s Eve, the market was open but closed one hour earlier.

Operating hours of stores inside the Net Loft building vary, but for most of December the place is typically 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 is open during similar hours and dates most years.

 

Granville Island Night Scene

 

Tips and Advice

Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most out 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 if you stay even later, you can 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: 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.

 

Granville Island Shops at Night
Triangle Square

 

Granville Island and COVID-19

The coronavirus pandemic is impacting shops, restaurants and tourist attractions throughout Metro Vancouver and the entire world. Granville Island is no exception. The popular neighbourhood is taking lots of extra precautions though to keep visitors safe.

When we visited in mid-November 2020 we were impressed with the measures being taken to protect the public. There were hand-sanitizing stations everywhere, almost everyone was wearing a mask, and stores were admitting a limited number of customers at any one time.

As of mid-November 2021, everyone in BC had to wear a mask in indoor public places. Vaccine passports were required for some activities on the island, but not all. For example, you didn’t need to show proof of vaccination when visiting the Net Loft or the Public Market food court. However, some restaurants, theatres and exercise facilities may have required proof of vaccination.

 

Other Information

To learn more about the district, read our Granville Island page.

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: