The bustle of the holidays is upon us, and yes, we know they’re looking a little different this year. But the great news is that there are still many opportunities to celebrate the festive season with the family in and around Vancouver. From virtual flyovers of Santa’s workshop to spectacular light shows in gardens, canyons and parks, these joyful events and attractions are sure to brighten dark winter nights and add sparkle to the season. Gather up the troops for days of festive family fun and celebrate Christmas in Vancouver with kids and families.
*Note: Pandemic protocols remain in effect for many Vancouver attractions and events this holiday season. Please consult attraction websites to determine operating hours and to book tickets online. Stay safe and happy holidays.
Where to celebrate Christmas in Vancouver with kids
Burnaby Village Heritage Christmas
One of Metro Vancouver’s loveliest old-school Christmas events, the Burnaby Village Museum’s historic site is transformed into a charming reminder of traditional holidays of old. The brightly-painted clapboard buildings are decorated with twinkling lights and natural decorations to foster a festive spirit.
When: November 27, 2021 to January 3, 2022
Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge
North Vancouver’s Capilano Suspension Bridge never looks quite as spectacular than during the holidays. The trees and namesake suspension bridge are covered in thousands of twinkling fairy lights that spill over into the rest of the rainforest, including the Treetops Adventure (with the eight tallest Christmas trees in the world), creating an impressive display of light in the darkness.
There’s also live entertainment and kid-friendly fun including craft activities and scavenger hunts. Remember to hold on tight as you walk over the suspension bridge – it does tend to sway.
When: November 20, 2021 to January 23, 2022
Help Santa find his three missing reindeer at Flyover Canada. This virtual flight-simulation lifts off for a breathtaking eight-minute ride over Canada’s incredible winter landscape. From the wild East Coast shoreline to the vast prairies and soaring snow-covered peaks of the Rockies, everyone will marvel at how beautiful Canada is in winter.
For Christmas, the ride takes on a holiday theme as guests assist two twinkle-eyed elves (Pinecone and Chestnut) on their reindeer search. The snowy pre-show segment gets everyone in the holiday mood, and be sure keep eyes peeled for the finale appearance of Santa’s sparkling North Pole workshop.
When: December 6, 2021 to January 3, 2022
Festival of Lights at VanDusen Gardens
One of Vancouver’s most popular holiday lights displays returns this season. The Festival of Lights transforms Van Dusen Botanical Garden into a wander-worthy winter wonderland of one million twinkling lights. Stroll along the lakeside, shimmering in the glow of northern lights, or wander into the lush Rose Garden, which is illuminated for a spectacular winter replica through the artistry of VanDusen’s garden stewards.
As with each outdoor (and indoor) holiday attraction this season, the Festival of Lights has been reimagined to incorporate Covid-related capacity reductions and safety measures, including face mask recommendations and one way pathways. Visitors will have 45 minutes to complete their visit. Timed entry tickets go on sale on November 1st. Attendees must show ID and proof of vaccination.
When: November 26, 2021 to January 3, 2022
Vancouver Christmas Market
The popular German-style Vancouver Christmas Market is reopening at Jack Poole Plaza in downtown Vancouver on November 13th. Until December 24th, the Market will feature favorite foods like pretzels, bratwurst, glühwine and more, as well as stalls of local artisanal crafts, the walk-in Christmas tree and the beloved Christmas carousel.
When: November 13 to December 24, 2021
Grouse Mountain’s Peak of Christmas
Grouse Mountain’s Peak of Christmas shines bright again this year. There’s loads of holiday happenings on Grouse Mountain, as it turns into a magical, snow-covered winter wonderland during the Christmas season. Reserve a spot and ride the Skyride gondola to the peak to enjoy the outdoor fun and illuminations, including the show-stopping Light Walk glowing light tunnel.
This snowy journey will take you around Blue Grouse lake through a series of magical Christmas Lights in a beautiful illuminated wonderland. Take a spin on the outdoor skating rink, visit real-life reindeer and warm up with some hot chocolate inside the lodge while enjoying the city’s twinkling lights below.
When: December 2021
Glow Gardens in Langley
One of the Lower Mainland’s most popular Christmas lights extravaganzas takes place at Glow Gardens in Langley in the Fraser Valley. The popular drive-thru attraction stuns visitors with over one million lights, including illuminated trees, sculptures and Yuletide characters. The trip through the festive scene – don’t forget to look out for Santa – takes about 20 minutes. Tickets includes free popcorn and mini doughnuts. Purchase tickets in advance for your timed-entry admission––they won’t be sold onsite.
When: November 18, 2021 to January 1, 2022
A new, festive lighting extravaganza is taking place in Surrey this holiday season. LUMAGICA is an outdoor/indoor holiday experience making its Canadian debut at Cloverdale Fairgrounds this December
Pack up the family for a 1 km light walk through a magical forest and escape on a fantastical journey through diverse lands. You’ll travel through a light tunnel to Gingerbread Lane, leading to the magical North Pole Village, where the jolly old elf, Santa Claus himself, will greet you. Soak up the magical atmosphere with interactive displays, animation, photo opportunities and surprises galore for all ages.
Guests can make their way through the light walk with hot cocoa, mulled wine, and snacks from various vendors in the park. Eat, drink and be merry in the north pole village with gastronomic delights, live entertainment; pick up some holiday gifts at the festive marketplace.
When: December 4-30th, 2021
Robson Square Skating Rink
Lace up at the Robson Square Skating Rink in the heart of downtown Vancouver, just steps from the Vancouver Art Gallery. It’s the perfect rink size for taking the wee ones ice skating for the first time, and practicing your triple axels (or crossovers), if it’s not too crowded. Skate rentals are on-site, and check out the cute little Zambonis that clean the ice. Opens December 1st
Winter Solstice Lantern Festival
This year marks the 28th annual edition of this charming, family-friendly community festival illuminating the darkest night of the year. The Solstice Lantern Festival welcomes everyone to gather together in procession – preferably with a lantern they have made – into three Vancouver neighbourhoods (Granville Island, Yaletown and Strathcona). Dress warmly and expect music, dancing and singing as the strolling parade wanders along, illuminated by its handmade lanterns.
When: December 2021
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Disclosure: The writer visited these attractions as a guest of Tourism Vancouver. As always, her opinions are honest and her own.
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