We’re in full throttle Christmas mode, so we put together our list of must-do’s this holiday season. We check off these 10 things every single year – a few are ticketed, but many are free to enjoy. We always post our city outings on Instagram, so come along with us there. Don’t forget to tag your posts #districtlocal so we can see what you’re up to this holiday!

Top Christmas things to do in Vancouver

1. Go see Christmas lights

Ease into the holidays by checking out Christmas lights. Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge is the biggest and brightest showcase each season, but you’ll feel just as much joy walking through the Trinity Street neighbourhood that goes all out.

Check out our Complete list of Christmas lights in Vancouver! Lots of free and paid experiences to choose from.

2. Stroll around Vancouver Christmas Market

This has become an annual tradition for the past few years – 75 wooden huts filled with German sweets, treats, and treasures. New highlights this year: Canada’s first-ever Walk-In Christmas Tree (a 30ft tall tree covered with 36,000 twinkling lights that makes an Insta-worthy shot), a new ‘Flying Stage’ perched 10ft high above the market for live entertainment, and lots of new food and beverage vendors (Eat F.I.S.H., Cannoli King, Wild Goose Winery, craft beer). They are also partnering with Children’s Wish Foundation December 16-24 for Children’s Wish Week – look for extra features onsite.

Vancouver Christmas Market
Daily | November 22 – December 24, 2017
Jack Poole Plaza, 1055 Canada Place
Admission: $10 adults, $5 youth

3. Check out Christmas at Canada Place

It’s the 30th year for Christmas at Canada Place. Don’t miss the nostalgic tradition of the Woodward’s Windows, the Sails of Light, and Avenue of Christmas Trees.

Christmas at Canada Place
Daily | November 23 – December 31, 2017
8:00 am – 11:00 pm (exceptions on Nov 23 & Dec 31)
Canadian Trail (west promenade) and North Point, Canada Place, Vancouver
Admission: Free

4. Stop by the Festival of Trees

It’s the 31st annual Festival of Trees with BC Children’s Hospital. Wander through the gorgeous Four Seasons Hotel and Level M2 of Pacific Centre to see all the creative decorations and displays. You can vote for your favourite tree with a $5 donation that goes to charity.

Festival of Trees
Daily | November 30, 2017 – January 1, 2018
Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver, 791 W. Georgia Street, Vancouver
Admission: Free

5. Walk down Gingerbread Lane

It’s the 27th year for this sweet showcase, and it gets better and better each year. Gingerbread crafting is a thing and the masterpieces will blow you away. There are towers, churches, city landscapes, whimsical scenes and so much more. Vote for your favourites! This event benefits Make-A-Wish Foundation.

Hyatt Gingerbread Lane
Daily | December 1 – 29, 2017
655 Burrard Street, Hyatt Vancouver

6. Say hello to Scuba Claus at Vancouver Aquarium

The Aquarium is decked out in holiday cheer. Bring the kids and say hello to Scuba Claus – he dives into the Straight of Georgia habitat at 12:30pm daily. Get there early to snag a seat right up front (you might even get a couple of high fives in there). While you’re there, don’t miss Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the 4-D theatre. Lots of fun and delightful surprises along the way.

Vancouver Aquarium
Daily | November 24 – January 7
845 Avison Way, Vancouver
Note: Scuba Claus only visits until December 24.

7. Attend the Christmas Wish Breakfast

We have to include the biggest gift drive in the city (and country): the 30th Annual Christmas Wish Breakfast. Last year over 5,000 people brought unwrapped gift donations – and in exchange, enjoyed a hot breakfast buffet. Note: The Lower Mainland Christmas Bureau needs more gifts for teens and tweens – check out the list of gift suggestions.

Pan Pacific Hotel Vancouver & Vancouver Convention Centre
Wednesday, December 13, 2017
999 Canada Place & Vancouver Convention Centre East

8. Go skating at Robson Square

Grab your skates and head to Robson Square’s outdoor skating rink. There are skate rentals onsite (cash only, rentals end 30 minute before closing time). There are also snacks and hot drinks for purchase.

Robson Square
December 1, 2017 – end of February 2018
Sunday to Thursday: 9am-9pm, Friday & Saturday, 9am-11pm
Admission: Free

9. Shop at local markets and craft fairs

  • Make it! The Handmade Revolution
    Thursday, December 7 – Sunday, December 10, 2017
    PNE Forum, 2901 East Hastings, Vancouver
    Admission: $8, early bird $6
  • Got Craft?
    Saturday, December 9 & Sunday, December 10, 2017
    Maritime Labour Centre, 1880 Triumph Street, Vancouver
    Admission: $3
  • Shiny Fuzzy Muddy
    Saturday, December 9 & Sunday, December 10, 2017
    Heritage Hall, 3102 Main St
    Admission: $3
  • Crafty Affaire
    Saturday, December 16, 2017
    Croatian Cultural Centre, 3250 Commercial Drive
    Admission: $2
  • Eastside Flea
    Every weekend between November 17 – December 17th
    The Ellis Building, 1024 Main Street, Vancouver, BC
    Admission: $3
  • River District Winter Craft Fair
    Sundays | December 10 & 17
    River District Centre, 8683 Kerr Street, Vancouver

10. Have breakfast with Santa

Like we said – lots to choose from! Let us know if we’ve missed any of your favourites in the comments below. Happy holidays, everyone!

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