From train rides to tree-top walks to scuba-diving Santas, there’s no shortage of things to do in Vancouver this holiday season.
Here’s a look at what’s on the Christmas calendar so far…
Discover the magical 15-acre winter wonderland that awaits at VanDusen Festival of Lights. With the VanDusen Botanical Garden bedecked with more than a million lights, stroll the lakeside, shimmering in the glow of northern lights, or the lush rose garden, reimagined for winter. An enchanting winter garden awaits with themed areas, tasty treats, unique light features and holiday music from Nov. 26 to Jan. 3. To limit crowds, tickets must be purchased online in advance for a designated entry time.
The Vancouver Aquarium launches their Holiday Splash experience Nov. 13 to Jan. 3, including the return of traditional favourites – Scuba Claus and Jelly Snow Globe. Discover an aquatic winter wonderland of twinkling lights and festive decor, plus scrumptious chef-made seasonal treats. Wave to Scuba Claus during his twice-daily dives at 11 a.m. and 2 p.m., snap a unique family photo at the Jelly Snow Globe, enjoy live holiday music from Dec. 1 to 12 and settle in to enjoy The Polar Express 4D Experience. Plan your visit at vanaqua.org/holiday.
After a year’s hiatus, the Vancouver Christmas Market returns, Nov. 13 to Dec. 24 and Jack Poole Plaza, downtown at the Olympic Cauldron. Vancouver’s only German-style Christmas Market welcomes families and friends to reconnect and celebrate the spirit of the holiday season. Included in this 11th year are new vendors and activities, traditional mulled wine, savoury treats and baked goods, carousel rides, festive music and magical light displays. This year’s Market will include a new online reservation system to limit crowds, with guests selecting a date and half-hour arrival time slot. Visit vancouverchristmasmarket.com/tickets
At the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, marvel at the Festival of Trees, Nov. 26 to Jan. 2, raising funds for BC Children’s Hospital Foundation for more than 30 years. The hotel lobby will be transformed into a magical forest of decorated trees – come come vote for your favourite and support the hospital’s the mental health programs.
In Stanley Park, the Bright Nights Train will roll through the sparkling, magically lit forest of Stanley Park from Nov. 26 to Jan. 2. Kids of all ages will sing along to their favourite carols as they take in the whimsical displays along their ride. To limit crowds, tickets will only be sold online, and will be good for a specified time.
The 34th annual Christmas at Canada Place welcomes holiday visitors Dec. 3 to Jan. 3. The family-friendly, outdoor experience features the historic Woodward’s Windows and Avenue of Christmas Trees, plus delicious holiday recipes, a special holiday-themed Sails of Light display, Canada’s North light display and more! While the site is open from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, the light displays and Sails of Light are best viewed after 5 p.m. Plan your visit at canadaplace.ca/events/christmas
For more lights a-sparkle, St. Paul’s Hospital’s Lights of Hope display recognizes hundreds of donors for their support with shining stars and more than 100,000 sparkling lights illuminating Burrard Street. New this year is a selfie station at the display – the perfect spot to capture the season with friends and family. Tag @helpstpauls to show your support.
Also at Canada Place, head to FlyOver Canada Dec. 6 to Jan. 3 for a special opportunity to Soar with Santa across Canada and the North Pole, in an original cinematic ride experience. Visit flyovercanada.com
Cross over to North Vancouver to take in the magic of the Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge, delighting guests from Nov. 20 to Jan. 23. From the glowing suspension bridge take in the illuminated canyon and Capilano River, stroll the magical rainforest, and walk between the eight tallest Christmas trees in the world on Treetops Adventure. Don’t forget the camera for the mesmerizing “Arc de Lumina” light tunnel, and keep a sharp eye peeled for lit snowy owls along a scavenger hunt with weekly prizes to be won. Learn more at capbridge.com
The PNE returns with Winter Lights, from 4 to 10 p.m. Dec. 3 to 31. New and returning features include two light tunnels, an array of dazzling lights, special characters and winter creatures, live performers (including a snowglobe village filled with live dancers), delicious seasonal food offerings, and nine special ‘lands’ filled with fantastical characters and an unforgettable holiday atmosphere. Tune into a special radio broadcast throughout the experience with the WinterLights soundtrack. Learn more at pne.ca/winterlights.
In Burnaby, Heritage Christmas is at the Burnaby Village Museum from Nov. 27 to Jan. 3, with festive lights and traditional decorations, plus seasonal entertainment, demonstrations and activities. (Mark your calendar for Dec. 4, when the tree lighting ceremony at 6 p.m. officially launches the season.) Try your hand at the animal-themed scavenger hunt, and enjoy a meal or treat at the ice cream parlour. Gate admission is free. Visit burnabyvillagemuseum.ca
And in Steveston, the Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site gets into the holiday spirit with their own Festival of Trees event, presented in partnership with the Steveston Merchants Association.
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