This year marks the 30th anniversary of VanDusen’s Festival of Lights. Take an evening stroll through this expansive botanical garden and enjoy more than a million twinkling lights. If that’s not enough to warm your holiday heart, other highlights of the festival include photo opps with Santa, a shadow puppet show for the kids, a dancing light show on Livingstone Lake and food trucks to warm your belly, too.
When: Dec. 10 to Jan. 4
Price: Adult $15, youth and seniors $11, children $8
Rogers Santa Claus Parade
When Santa comes to town, he does it in a big, big way. That means choirs, marching bands, over 65 floats and the big man in red will all be dashing through the snow in this year’s parade. Arrive early to secure a spot with a view as downtown Vancouver will be packed with the holiday faithful. The Christmas Square on the corner of Georgia and Howe will host activities like gingerbread decorating and face painting for the kids.
When: Dec. 7 at 1:00 p.m.
Price: Free, but monetary or food bank donations are encouraged. (The Parade is actually one of the largest food and fundraising events for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society)
Bright Nights Christmas Train
We’ll take your choo-choo train and raise you a ‘ho ho ho.’ The Stanley Park Miniature Train is one of Vancouver’s most popular attractions over the holidays, as three million lights (!) are used to transform the park into a winter wonderland. Bonus: half the money raised goes to the Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.
When: Nov. 27 to Jan. 4 (tickets on sale Nov. 3)
Price: Adult $11, children, youth and seniors $8
Vancouver Christmas Market
There are many reasons we love the Christmas Market: you can chow down on bratwurst, sip German beer and browse handmade gifts, all to the soundtrack of a traditional European choir. But our favourite reason has to be the mulled wine. So warm up with a piping hot glass and hitch a ride on Vancouver’s only Christmas carousel.
O Christmas Tree, how richly Vancouverites have decked thee. Hosted by the Four Seasons Hotel and Pacific Centre, this annual event is a tradition that stretches back to childhood for many locals – and for good reason! Over 40 stunningly decorated trees will be on display and, for the price of a donation to the BC Children’s Hospital, you can cast a vote for your favourite.
When: Nov. 20 to Jan. 4
Price: Admission is free, but don’t be a scrooge. A $2 minimum donation is recommended
Born and raised in Vancouver, Kirsty is currently studying Creative Writing at the University of Victoria. When she’s not studying (which is more often than it should be), she can be found discovering new music or planning her next trip.