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Winter Wander at Vancouver Museums

Vanier Park Museums

Winter Wander is an event in February where folk get to visit the Museum of Vancouver, Maritime Museum and H.R. Macmillan Space Centre all for just $5.

February Winter Wander

Not only do you get to visit these three great Vanier Park museums during the Winter Wander event, but you also get access to the Vancouver Academy of Music, City of Vancouver Archives, live music and other entertainment, all for the same cheap price.

Winter Wander 2018

In 2018 Winter Wander took place on Saturday, February 3rd, from 10 am until 5 pm. In 2019 it will likely take place on Saturday, February 2nd, but exact details are to be confirmed.

Each year tickets cost $5 and children ages 5 and under are free. 2018 was the same.

Participating attractions include the H.R. MacMillan Space Centre, Museum of Vancouver, Vancouver Maritime Museum, Vancouver Academy of Music and the City of Vancouver Archives. Outdoors there are a couple of food trucks, and roving entertainment is provided by Bard on the Beach and the Academy of Music at specific times.

About Winter Wander

Admission to the Museum of Vancouver, H.R. MacMillan Space Centre and Maritime Museum on regular days costs between about $14 and $21 or so per adult for each venue, or $43 for a day pass to see all three, which means the Winter Wander pass is a fantastic deal! What’s more? Children 5 and under are free. Expect the place to be busy!

Winter Wander is a great family event, and all three of the main museum attractions are both interesting and educational. You’ll learn about the history of Vancouver, about the universe and space exploration, and about maritime life and history.

Assuming you’re willing to wait in the lineups, during the Vancouver Winter Wander event you’ll get to see lots of historic displays, take your photo in a spacesuit and climb aboard a genuine historic RCMP police vessel, all for just $5!

What to Expect

At Winter Wander, expect lots of people, fair-sized lineups, and an event schedule with a list of entertainment and special activities throughout the day.

Live entertainment doesn’t happen all over the place. There is a set schedule and different things happen at specific times. The museums are open constantly all day. If you want to be entertained by the Bard on the Beach crew, however, you’ll need to check the schedule and be at a certain place at a certain time.

Although crowded, Winter Wander isn’t insanely busy. The venues are indeed crowded, but, surprisingly, not as bad as one might expect, or at least they weren’t when we’ve been. There is a pretty big lineup to get in before the doors even open in the morning, true, and you do need to wait your turn to get photos of your child in the model astronaut suit at the Planetarium, or to board the St. Roch police boat at the Maritime Museum.

For a $5 price, however, the waits at most times aren’t totally ridiculous.

St Roch Line up at Maritime Museum
The lineup to get on the St. Roch at the Winter Wander event

More About the Crowds

When we went in 2018 we arrived in the mid-afternoon on a rainy day after a long series of rainy days. We expected the place to be packed like sardines. It wasn’t.

When we arrived in the afternoon of 2018 there was only a very short lineup to get in. There were lots of people in the museums, but with multiple venues none of them was so crowded that we couldn’t still enjoy the experience.

When we left an hour or so later, after an admittedly quick visit, we asked at reception what the crowds had been like during the day. The lady behind the desk said “insanely busy, just like right now, it hasn’t stopped.” I asked if it had been busier earlier, but she said no. In her opinion it had been constantly insane. In our opinion, however, it was less crowded than we had expected.

Display Room at Museum of Vancouver
Museum of Vancouver during a slow period during the Winter Wander event

Tips and Advice

Below are some tips and advice to help you make the most out of your experience at the Vanier Park museums on Winter Wander day.

TIP #1: Go expecting the museums to be insanely crowded, and then hope to be pleasantly surprised. Go expecting small lineups and not too many people, however, and you’ll likely be disappointed.

TIP #2: If you haven’t been to the museums at Vanier Park for a long time, you don’t mind crowds and you have children or guests from out of town, then definitely check out Winter Wander. For just $5, it’s a fabulous deal!

TIP #3: Some venues and museum exhibit areas will be more popular and consequently more crowded than others. If a lineup for something is too long, simply move along to something else. There’s lots to see, so don’t fret if you don’t get to see everything.

TIP #4: The best thing about the HR MacMillan Space Centre is the Planetarium and its shows about the stars and space. Chances are they’ll be busy, so don’t be disappointed if it’s not worth the wait. If you can get in to see a show though, do.

TIP #5: Entertainment at Winter Wander happens at specific times and at certain places over the course of the day. When you arrive, check the schedule and decide what you want to see (including possible shows at the Planetarium). Then, plan your visit accordingly.

TIP #6: Expect to spend between about an hour and all day at the event, but likely all morning or all afternoon. The length of your stay will depend on your level of interest in museums, model ships, history and space, but also on the crowds and the interest level and tolerance of crowds of the people you’re with.

TIP #7: While at Vanier Park, go for a walk and explore. There is a beautiful walking trail all along the waterfront with views of the city. Especially if the museums are crowded, a break for some fresh air can be nice.

Vancouver's Vanier Park
Vanier Park on a Sunny Day

Other Information

Click Museum of Vancouver, H.R. MacMillan Space Centre or Maritime Museum for more information on each venue.

Click Vancouver Educational  Venues for more great educational attractions, Vancouver on a Budget for more ways to inexpensively experience Vancouver, or Vancouver for Kids for more ideas on where to take your children.