Christmas 2015 Events!
Vancouver and the lower mainland has a large range of events happening this year for Christmas. With Dean being more excited for holidays and Sammy being more aware, I am looking forward to our best fun-filled Christmas season yet!
We’ve gone to the light display at Stanley Park every year for the past five years, even before our first was born. It’s become a tradition to go. Last year was our first time taking the train ride through the park. The line up worth the smiles and excitement on Dean’s face! If you have a train enthusiast, this is perfect! Dress warmly – it’s chilly on the train!!
“Your donations and a portion of ticket sales go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund. $1.4 million has been raised to help burn survivors and their families since 1998” – Vancouver.ca website
Suggested donation to enter the Bright Nights light display is $4.00; train tickets are NOT required to go check out the lights.
The train is $6 for any age during the matinee times – or – $12 for adults, $9 for children and seniors, with children under 3 years old being free in the evenings.
It’s open from Thursday, November 26th until Saturday, January 2nd. It’s closed on Christmas Day.
Check out their website to see their hours of operation as it varies throughout the season.
The train sells out early, so make sure to check availability and buy your tickets ahead of time – they are already available for purchase and are selling FAST! They have online purchasing options. But even if those are sold out and you’re really hoping for that date, head to the ticket booth in Stanley Park the morning of and buy your ticket on site. They reserve at least half of the available tickets for on site purchasing, but don’t leave it until late in the day, they still sell like hot-cakes even in person!
When we went last year, we went to the Aquarium in the morning and while Jason and Dean went to check out the fish, I lined up with Sammy to get tickets. We were there around 10a and there was a decently long line up already! We got tickets for that evening. This year I think we will do the same – plan a big downtown adventure with various Christmas things with getting train tickets as the first stop of our morning.
We haven’t had trouble finding parking in the past but you’ll want to arrive either before 5pm (when everyone is still having dinner before coming) or after 7pm (when parents of the little ones start heading out) The event is fairly transit friendly, though if bringing a little one in a stroller, it may be a wait as there are limits to the number of strollers on buses. There is also a free shuttle trolley that you can take from various points of the park to the event.
Another favourite event for our family – though we tend to keep this one as a rotation throughout various years. It’s very pretty and the lights are spectacular. However, the location and the parking can leave you feeling like the Grinch.
Admission is $16 (adults) $12 (senior and youth) $9 (children) and free for children under 3 years old.
They are open from 4:30pm-9pm from December 1st – 17th, December 24th and December 26th – December 31st. From 4:30pm-10pm from December 18th – 23rd. They are closed Christmas Day.
They have quite a few exhibits throughout the gardens. There is a Dancing Light show and over one million lights! They usually have some live performances and some awesome displays!
It’s fairly stroller friendly, though with the crowds and everyone looking in the directions of the lights and not in front of them, it can be stressful. Most paths are paved. However, because it is a decently large area to cover by foot, smaller ones may benefit from being in the stroller or in a carrier so you don’t have to try carrying them in your arms for long periods.
dThe parking is a bit of a nightmare. It’s a highly residential area and finding somewhere you can park that isn’t next to a fire hydrant or blocking a driveway can be tricky! Transit is available in this area, but again, if you have a stroller, prepare to fold it up or wait for a bus or two until you can board.
For the past two years, my husband has surprised us with tickets for this. The first year Dean was quite small (15 months) and the second year Sammy was even smaller (2 months) but it’s been so much fun both times! This year, we aren’t sure if we will be going again or if we will save it for next year when the boys will be 2y and 4y and will enjoy it so much more.
Admission is $43.95 for adults, $39.95 for seniors, $24.95 for youth, $14.95 for children and free for those under four years old. They also have a family rate for the Peak of Christmas which is $79.95 for two adults and two children/youth. Now, don’t quote me, but I believe that if you get the regular rate, it’s good year round so you can come back in the summer or even next Christmas if you get it late enough in the season. I believe that the family rate is only a one-time use for that visit, but you can get a family rate for a years pass as well, for approximately $115.
The Peak of Christmas runs from November 27th to January 4th.
This price gets you access to the Skyride (don’t worry, they won’t make you do the grind to the top!) and events at the peak. There’s a sleigh ride, Santa’s Workshop, ice skating, Holly the Jolly Reindeer show and Gingerbread Lane. There are even two NEW features that sound like such. a. freaking. blast!
Light Walk : “Be awestruck by the glow of light against a majestic mountain backdrop. Walk amongst the fir and spruce around Blue Grouse Lake where stunning light installations bring radiance to the winter night. From a light tunnel to lanterns, marvel at the beauty as snow crunches under foot.” – Grouse Mountain website
Sliding Zone : “Get your magic carpet rental* and…slide! It’s the new Sliding Zone, providing designated lanes and groomed terrain perfect for sliding. Whoosh! Perfect for the child in all of us.” – Grouse Mountain website
There is also Breakfast with Santa on December 12th, 13th and December 19th – December 24th. What better way to enjoy a family breakfast than having it with Santa at the top of a mountain? There are two seating times : 8:30-10am and 9-10:30am. The prices include the Peak of Christmas access and breakfast. Adults/seniors are $55.95, youth (13-18y) $31.95, children (5-12y) are $19.95 and “tots” (4y and under) are $8.95. (Note, even if you have an infant, like we did last year, you still get charged that $8.95 fee if they aren’t eating solids at that point.
I’ve gone twice and while it’s a lot of the same things as past years, it’s still enjoyable to go. This, like VanDusen, is one that we tend to throw into rotation and will go some years but not others.
Admission is $8 for adults $7 for seniors, $4 for youth/children and anyone 6 and under are free.
There are some packages that include the souvenir mug, carousel rides etc for a better price than paying individually for those things.
It runs from November 21st until December 24th from 11am – 9pm, seven days a week. (Closes at 6pm on December 24th)
Most goods vendors do take credit or debit. However, many of the food vendors only accept cash. There is an ATM there if you need it, though it charges a fee to withdrawal money from it.
I’ve gone to this a few times as a child. It’s a fun family outing and isn’t usually too crowded so it’s more enjoyable for the little ones that are just learning to walk and tend to get trampled at busier places!
Admission is FREE. Carousel rides are $2.55 each but to save some money you can buy the carousel tickets in bulk (and I’ve heard many parents recommend this!)
It’s open from November 21st – December 11th from 1pm-5:30p Monday-Friday and 1p-9p on Saturday and Sunday. From December 12th until January 1st, it’s hours are from 1p-9p (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day)
There are lots of lights to check out. They have some neat exhibits, including sound-reactive lights that will change according to noises that you make.
You can stroll through the streets and see the festively decorated village. For children there is a “Twelve Days of Christmas” scavenger hunt and the farmhouse has some wonderful baking.
There are various events (choirs, artists and theater groups etc) so check out the calendar on their website!
I’ve never gone to this event, but I’ve heard great reviews from those that have.
It’s from November 27th until January 3rd, but closed on Christmas Day. Park hours are from 11am – 9pm, with holiday events starting at 4pm.
Strollers are not allowed on many of the attractions – either be prepared to carry baby or wear them in a carrier.
The activities include gingerbread cookie decorating, children’s scavenger hunt, the worlds tallest living Christmas tree and thousands of Christmas lights decorating the forest.
Rates are $37.95 (adults), $34.95 (seniors), $30.95 (students, with ID), $24.95 (youth), $12 (children) and free for anyone under six years old. BC Residents get a year long membership for the same cost as ONE visit but bring your ID with you to prove your residence.
Along the Canada Place West Promenade is an assortment of different activities and exhibits for people of all ages. This was held in the cruise ship terminal two years ago but due to construction was relocated last year. They are holding it in the new location again this year.
Activities vary from walking through all the decorated Christmas trees, doing arts and crafts, and going into the 15 foot snow globe!
It’s all free, so if you are in the area for other events, it’s definitely worth taking a peek at.
It runs December 12th – December 30th (closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day) from 12p-6p.
The TRADEX in Abbotsford has a great indoor event for those chilly, wet winter days that we get.
There’s all sorts of fun activities there for all ages. The website lists Story Time with Mrs Claus, Santa’s Toy Workshop, bakery, puppet theatre, carnival type rides and various Christmas vendors.
It’s $12.50 – $15 per person (depending on what day/time you go), over the age of two. Their hours vary, so check out their website to see the hours listed on the website.
The PNE Forum is adding a new local event – Canada’s Largest Indoor Christmas Festival!
It will be held from December 11th until 20th. It runs from 11a-11p on the weekend and 3p-11p on the weekends.
Tickets can be purchased at the door or online for a discounted price ($5/each, online, plus service fees)
There is all sorts of fun to be had! A three story interactive snow globe that you can walk through is just the start. There’s also arts and crafts, Santa visits and more than 100 vendors.
Festival Of Trees
Every year the Four Seasons Hotel in downtown Vancouver puts on a display of Christmas trees. They are throughout the lobby, upstairs and also Pacific Centre Mall. It’s free to check them out and it’s close by other events and activities. It’s on from November 13th to January 5th.
Close by to the Four Seasons Hotel is the Hyatt Recency which holds Gingerbread Lane every year. It’s always fun to check out all the intricate gingerbread houses that people have created! Again, it’s free of cost and local to many other things to make for an excellent day-long adventure!
Between December 1st and December 30th (closed Christmas Day) join The Vancouver Trolley Company on a three hour sing-a-long tour through Vancouver. Guests get picked up at Canada Place at 6:30p and then it takes them throughout the city to Bright Nights and Van Dusen Gardens. The tickets for the trolley ride include the entrance fees for the two stops. Note : there isn’t time during the Stanley Park stop for the train ride.
Adults are $40, seniors/students are $35, Children are $25 and family (2 adults and 2 kids) is $110.
On Sunday December 6th, at 1p, the Rogers Santa Claus Parade hits the streets of Vancouver. Check the link to see the route. Plan to arrive early as prime seating fills up!
Starting at 10:30a, Coast Capital Savings Christmas Square (located at Georgia and Howe) opens up for some family fun. There will be faceprinting, a photo booth, gingerbread man and tree decorating, along with an opportunity to write a letter to Santa Claus.
We went to our first one last year – Dean really enjoyed watching the sights. Police, dancers, all sorts of floats, candy and of course, Santa, makes for a fun filled afternoon! It was a great experience. Pro-Tip : Bring sidewalk chalk to entertain younger children while waiting for the parade to start. You’re allowed (and pretty much encouraged) to play in the street until the parade starts to make it way towards you. Some of the many volunteers will walk ahead of the parade and clear the road.
At Bear Creek, in Surrey, there’s a miniature train that runs from Friday, December 4th until Monday, January 4th (closed Christmas Day) from 10a – 4p, daily. Trains leave at 15 after and 15 to the hours.
I’ve done the Easter train at this location but I’ve heard the Christmas one is great. You get a train ride, a visit with Santa, a candy cane and an activity kit for $8.50 (per person, adult or child).
For the past three years, the Yaletown Business Improvement Association has hosted “CandyTown” – it’s a free, outdoor Christmas Festival.
We keep missing this every year as it’s not a range of dates but ONE specific date. This year it will be held on November 21st from 12p – 7p.
Mainland Street gets decorated for the festival and local artisan vendors line the street for the day. You’ll find a great start (or finish for those overzealous types) to your holiday shopping and some fun family activities, including free horse drawn tours!
Timberline Christmas – reservations required
This is the first year I’ve heard of this. And I must say, this is definitely on my list of “MUST DO” this year!
Timberline Ranch is located near Downtown Maple Ridge. It’s aimed for younger (under 10 year old) children but I’ve read many parents enjoyed their adventures there, too!
There’s Christmas trees to look at (and vote for!), petting zoo, covered wagon ride, barnyard maze, pony rides ($5 additional cost) and many more activities.
They recommend 90-120 minutes to get through and experience it to it’s full potential. Most of it is indoors but dress warm as there is a bit of walking from barn to barn (and I believe the covered wagon ride would be outdoors)
Prices are : Adults $7 Thursday/Friday, $9 Saturday/Sunday; Children $9 Thursday/Friday, $11 Saturday/Sunday; Children under two are free.
Hours are : Thursday 12:30p-3p; Friday 1p-7p; Saturday 9a-7p; Sunday 1p-7p
Please note : Reservations are required, even for the general public.
Lights Of Hope
St Pauls, on Burrard St in Vancouver, always goes all out with their Christmas light display. It’s always gorgeous and it goes to support a great cause!
On Thursday, November 19th at 6:30pm, they will have the official “lighting” ceremony, including fireworks, food trucks and some family activities!
Last year they raised $2.6M in donations!
If you can’t make it for the opening night, check it out throughout the Christmas season!
Local City Events
Many local cities will have various events – Festivals, parades, tree lightings, music and activities. A bit of googling will help you find out what is happening in your area.
Last but not least, New West Moms Group Christmas Fundraiser!
This is a great group of ladies who do direct sales (Jamberry, Mary Kay, Tupperware, etc) and handmade items (hair bows, etc) and are donating a portion of sales towards the annual NWMG Christmas funds to help support local families that are needed a bit of a helping hand.
It’s on TOMORROW, November 8th from 11a-3p at the River Market in New Westminster, just a short walk from the skytrain station. Free entry. Great place to get some last minute shopping done, while supporting home businesses and local families!
There’s a raffle with TONS of prizes from all the vendors! Make sure to enter it if you’re able to swing by!
A bit last minute but this one is near and dear to my heart as it’s a wonderful group of ladies and I’m very proud to be part of the Facebook group that helps put this on (I didn’t have any part in organizing this but I still feel thrilled to help get the word out – even if last minute!!)
There are so many exciting things happening in the lower mainland to celebrate Christmas and get in the holiday spirit with!
Do you have any favorites that you and your family attend every year?