The 12 Days of Christmas in Vancouver

Christmas in Vancouver really is the most wonderful time of the year! Robson Street is filled with holiday shoppers, the entire city is lit up with thousands of lights, and we are lucky enough to have one of the warmest winters in all of Canada! There is definitely no shortage of festive events and it can be easy to get lost in it all. That’s why we have put together this list of our favourite Christmas activities in Vancouver – one for each of the 12 days of Christmas!

Woodwards Department Store in the 1900's - Image Credit: Vancouver Archives

Woodwards Department Store in the 1900’s – Image Credit: Vancouver Archives

1. Woodward’s Windows Display at Canada Place

The annual window displays at Woodward’s department store has been a beloved Christmastime tradition for many Vancouverites. Handcrafted in the 1960’s, the displays included classic holiday themes like Santa’s Workshop, The Candlestick Factory, and The Lamplighter. When Woodward’s closed in 1993, Canada Place purchased the displays and kept the tradition alive. Recapture the nostalgia of Christmas Past with the Woodward’s Windows.

When: December 12, 2015 to December 30, 2015
Where: 999 Canada Place, Vancouver
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Image Credit: Arts Club/ David Cooper

Image Credit: Arts Club/ David Cooper

2. Arts Club Theatre Christmas Productions

Watch the Arts Club Theatre Company bring two classic holiday films to the local stage. Search for the meaning of life with George and his guardian angel in It’s a Wonderful Life or laugh with 9-year-old Ralphie as he desperately pines over Red Ryder BB gun in A Christmas Story.

It’s A Wonderful Life
When: November 19, 2015 to December 26, 2015
Where: Granville Island Stage
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A Christmas Story
When: November 18, 2015 to December 27, 2015
Where: Stanley Industrial Alliance Theatre at 2750 Granville St, Vancouver
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Gingerbread Lane Winner Betty Hung Hyatt Regency

3. Gingerbread Lane at the Hyatt Regency

Strolling along Gingerbread Lane at the Hyatt Regency Vancouver is easily the sweetest activity on our list this year. The Hyatt Regency Vancouver has invited schools, amateur bakers, and professional culinary artists to showcase their gingerbread houses in the hotel’s lobby for 25 years. More than just a tasty tradition, the event is a fundraiser for the Make-A-Wish Foundation which grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. Drop by with a donation and cast your vote for your favourite creation!

When: December 4, 2015 to December 27, 2015
Where: 655 Burrard Street, Vancouver
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Christmas Market

4. Vancouver Christmas Market

Experience the Old World Christmas charm at the Vancouver Christmas Market. The market is inspired by a centuries old German tradition called Christkindlmarkt where local merchants sold street food, mulled wine, ornaments, and gifts. Join in on the fun as the Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza is transformed into a wonderland of traditional food, hand-carved nutcrackers, knitted goods and cultural entertainment.

When: November 21 to December 24, 2015
Where: Queen Elizabeth Theatre at 650 Hamilton Street, Vancouver
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Image Credit: Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

5. Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge

See Capilano Suspension Bridge Park like never before as hundreds of thousands of glittering Christmas lights illuminate the suspension bridge, Treetops Adventure, Cliffwalk, the rainforest and canyon. Decorate gingerbread cookies, make your own Christmas card, and stand in awe of the world’s tallest living Christmas tree. Canyon Lights donates partial proceeds to the BC Professional Fire Fighter’s Burn Fund. Take the free shuttle or join a WESTCOAST Sightseeing guided tour right from your hotel!

When: November 27 to January 3, 2016
Where: 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver
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Image Credit: Flickr/Clayton Perry Photography

Image Credit: Flickr/Clayton Perry Photography

6. Tree Lighting in Vancouver

Kick off the holiday season with the annual Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting ceremony at Jack Poole Plaza. The festivities includes live entertainment, free cookies and hot chocolate, a visit with Santa, and the main event – the lighting of a 50 foot Christmas Tree! Although the event is free, attendees are encouraged buy a bulb in support of the Vancouver International Children’s Festival.

When: December 4, 2015 from 5:30 pm to 7:00 pm
Where: Jack Poole Plaza at 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver
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Image Credit: Robson Square

Image Credit: Robson Square

7. Skating at Robson Square

Robson Square Ice Rink is a popular spot for sweethearts of all ages. There really is nothing more romantic than an evening of ice skating. Skating is free when you bring your own skates or you can rent a pair with a helmet for only $4.00.

When: December 1, 2015 to February 28, 2016
Where: 800 Robson Street
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Image Credit: Ballet BC

Image Credit: Ballet BC

8. BC Ballet’s The Nutcracker

Journey into a magical world of Nutcracker princes, evil mouse armies, and delicate Sugar Plum Fairies with Alberta Ballet’s production of The Nutcracker presented by BC Ballet. This production boasts spectacular sets, intricate costumes, and more than 100 children from local dance schools.

When: December 29, 2015 to December 31, 2015
Where: Queen Elizabeth Theatre at 650 Hamilton Street, Vancouver
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Credit: The Butchart Gardens

Credit: The Butchart Gardens

9. Day Trip From Vancouver to Victoria

We know we’re cheating a little by including Butchart Gardens on this list but their Magic of Christmas displays are truly unforgettable. Take a day trip from Vancouver and wander through poinsettias and snowdrops, carolers, and life-sized displays of the 12 Days of Christmas. Children can even bring a paper snowflake they’ve made and exchange it for a hot chocolate. Perfect for a mini-roadtrip with the family or leave the car at home and join a WESTCOAST Sightseeing guided tour.

When: December 1, 2015 to January 6, 2016
Where: 800 Benvenuto Ave, Brentwood Bay
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Bright nights

10. Christmas Train Vancouver

A true Christmas in Vancouver is just not complete without a trip to the Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park. A portion of ticket sales go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund. Since it was founded in 1998, Bright Nights has raised $1.4 million to help burn survivors and their families.

When: November 26, 2015 to January 2, 2016
Where: Stanley Park, Vancouver
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11. Rogers Santa Claus Parade

Watch the 12th Annual Rogers Santa Claus Parade as the streets are filled with 3,500 participants from 60 marching bands, choirs, festive floats, and community groups. Keep your eyes open for the big man himself!

When: December 6, 2015 at 1:00 pm
Where: Along Georgia St and Howe St
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Image Credit: VanDusen Botanical Garden

Image Credit: VanDusen Botanical Garden

12. Festival of Lights at VanDusen Garden

Experience the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Garden where a magical winter wonderland awaits. Listen to a Winter Tale with the Vancouver Public Library, have your photo taken with Santa, or simply stroll through one million glittering lights.

When: December 1,. 2015 to December 31, 2015
Where: 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver
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Well, there you have it! The 12 Days of Christmas in Vancouver! We hope your holidays will be filled with  lots of  Vancouver traditions new and old!

In Events