The holiday season is already kicking off with the first events starting up in early November. There are so many wonderful opportunities to get out with the family and enjoy the holiday fun, so to help you choose where to visit, here is my rundown of some of the best holiday events and activities around the Lower Mainland.
November 12 – December 24, Jack Poole Plaza, Vancouver
The Vancouver Christmas Market is one of the first holiday events to get its start this season. You must purchase an entry ticket and time to enjoy this market and then you can peruse lots of holiday shopping, enjoy German-style food and drinks, hop on the Christmas carousel, and take in the festive music, and lights. It can get very busy at peak times, so don’t be surprised if you end up waiting in an entry line. But I visited last year with the kids during a less busy afternoon and we had a really lovely time.
November 25 – December 30, Cloverdale Fairgrounds
Back for the 2022 holiday season, you can bring all the family along for this magical evening of festive delights. Beautiful light display, plus a 1 km light walk, live entertainment, food, and even an artisan market. Free photos with Santa that you can take on your phone too. This is mostly an undercover experience and there is cocoa, mulled wine and more available when you need to warm up.
November 25 – January 2, Van Dusen Gardens
This event is truly a favourite for so many people. It’s stroller friendly with lots of easy paths to walk around the extensive gardens. You can expect to see one million lights decorating 15 acres of Van Dusen Botanical Garden. There are themed areas, tasty treats, unique light features, and holiday music. Tickets are not sold on site and must be purchased online in advance. (this is one that can sell out!)
November 19 – January 22, Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
This is another favourite event that is just so gorgeous to visit. Last year we loved visiting the world-famous suspension bridge all lit up, and climbing among the Treetop Adventure. This attraction runs for two months so there is plenty of time to check it out, and I highly recommend it! A big plus for BC residents – admission is the same cost as a one year membership and that includes Canyon Lights.
December 14 – December 23, PNE Fairgrounds
This is a brand new event being put on at the PNE fairgrounds. Everyone is invited out for this immersive magical holiday experience. The event runs for ten festive nights and will feature a nightly Christmas themed concert series, a large indoor skating rink, magical holiday theatre shows, a winter market, tasty food and beverages. There is also indoor ice skating offered.
December 1 – January 1st, Stanley Park
Unfortunately things are looking a little different this year for the iconic Stanley Park Christmas display and train. The vintage train is out of commission and will NOT be running. But the firefighters are still putting on the beautiful light display. You can still walk among the twinkly lights and enjoy food vendors and hot chocolate. So bundle up and hit up Stanley Park for a festive evening. Admission is by donation.
December 1 – 31, Bear Creek Park, Surrey
If you are missing the Stanley Park train, you can always head out to Surrey and can hop on Bear Creek Park’s delightful Christmas train, complete with craft activities, a gentle ride through the fairy-lit trees and a visit with Santa himself––including the chance to snap your own photos with him. There is a day train and night train evening service – Santa Express runs 10am – 4pm. The Christmas Night Train runs 6pm – 8pm.
Dates TBA, Grouse Mountain
Dates have not yet been announced but the gorgeous Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain will be back for this year. It is really like visiting the North Pole – so lovely. Take the gondola ride up to the summit and check out a beautiful, snowy Light Walk, skate on a frozen pond and visit with some real life reindeer and Santa in his workshop!
November 26 – January 2, Burnaby Village Museum
At Heritage Christmas you can wander the village and experience a special atmosphere of festive lights, and the traditional decorations. There will also be seasonal entertainment, demonstrations and activities. Take part in a animal-themed scavenger hunt including a menagerie of adorned Eco-sculptures like salmon, herons and hawks. Enjoy a meal or treat at the Ice Cream Parlour. Gate admission is free.
November 26 – December 30, LaFarge Lake, Coquitlam
Last year we visited the Lights at LaFarge for our first time ever. It was well worth the drive from our house in Vancouver! This is Coquitlam’s free, and stunning outdoor light display around LaFarge Lake. It is free and a wonderful and festive walk. It is stroller friendly, and the distance is not too long so its very doable for young kids. If you want to avoid the crowds consider visiting during off-peak hours (before 6 p.m. and after 8 p.m.), and avoid weekends and the week of Dec. 20 to 26, when it can be busier and more congested.
November 26-27, December 3-4, 10-11, 17-18
If you live near Squamish or are willing to do the drive out that way, the North Pole Express is truly unique experience, especially for train lovers! Passengers will start at the Candyland Station where hot chocolate and festive characters await, then take your seat on the full-sized vintage train for a 50-minute Yuletide journey featuring carols, cookies and more. A stop at the North Pole and you get to meet the elves as well as Santa and Mrs Claus. There’s also a miniature train you can ride around Santa’s workshop. This is a more expensive (but very special) trip.
November 23 – December 31, 6690 216 St Langley
Put on your Christmas sweater, gather the family and head to Langley for a magical winter wonderland fashioned from more than one million Christmas lights––including shimmering trees and walk-through landscapes sparkling with giant Yuletide ornaments and sculptures. There is also a Christmas train, food trucks and a chance to take a photo with Santa. Enjoy a festive beverage as you listen to live music!
Dates TBA, West Vancouver
Head to West Vancouver for this free attraction where you get to check out a shimmering multitude of outdoor Christmas trees along the waterfront, each fully illuminated for the season by local groups, schools and businesses. It’s the largest outdoor tree display in the region and part of the Dundarave Festival of Lights which also includes four Saturdays of free live music concerts. This initiative helps to raise much-needed funds for the area’s North Shore Shelter. The sites are found at Dundarave Beach Park at 25th & Bellevue, Millennium Park at 15th & Bellevue and Grosvenor Ambleside Galleries at 13th & Bellevue.
December 1 – December 24, Gulf of Georgia Cannery, Steveston
The historic Cannery will once again slip into sparkling Yuletide form for the holiday season by hosting the charming Steveston Festival of Trees. Dozens of trees will be on display, each splendidly decorated by local organizations trying to outshine each other. Regular admission for entry applies.