MUSEUMS AND COVID-19
As of the beginning of February in 2021, both the Museum of Vancouver and Maritime Museum are open to the public from Thursdays to Sundays. The Space Centre, however, is only open at select times for special activities.
Also as of early February, government orders banning all events and public gatherings are still in place (until at least February 5th but likely longer). As a result, the Winter Wander event was not able to happen. Hopefully it’ll be possible in 2022. Exact details, however, are to be confirmed.
Vancouver’s 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 2020
In 2020 Winter Wander took place on February 8th from 10 am until 5 pm. In 2022 it might happen on Saturday, February 5th, although exact details are to be confirmed.
Each year tickets cost about $5 and children ages 5 and under are free. 2020 was the same.
Participating attractions include the Museum of Vancouver, Vancouver Academy of Music, Vancouver Maritime Museum, City of Vancouver Archives and H.R. Macmillan Space Centre. 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. This means that the Winter Wander pass is a fantastic deal! What’s more? Children 5 and under are usually 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.
More About the Crowds
When we went a couple of years ago 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.
Tips and Advice
Below are some tips to help you make the most out of your experience at Winter Wander.
TIP #1: 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 #2: 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 is a lot to see, so don’t fret if you don’t get to see everything.
TIP #3: The best thing about the 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 #4: 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. Then, plan your visit accordingly.
TIP #5: 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.
TIP #6: 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.
For more details about the discounted February event see the Winter Wander Facebook page.
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.