Vancouver has a large range of events happening this year for Christmas.
While most parades are done for the year, there are still lots of exciting things to check out before the holiday is over.
This is my favorite event. My husband and I have gone every year for the past five years. Last year, my son enjoyed it, even as an infant. And this year, I am sure he will love it as well! (We are going on Saturday)
Admission is free, though donations of $4 is appreciated. The money goes towards BC Professional Fire Fighters' Burn Fund.
The train is $6 (matinee on W/F/S/Sn from 11am-3pm) or $11 for adults, $7 for children and seniors, with children under 3 years old being free.
They are open from 3pm - 10pm on M, T, Th and from 11am - 10pm W, Sn and on F, S from 11am - 11pm until December 19th. From December 20th - January 5th, they are open from 11am - 11pm all week, except Christmas day when they are closed.
I've heard the train sells out early, so make sure to check availability and buy your tickets ahead of time!
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.
VanDusen Festival of Lights
My second favorite. It's very pretty and the lights are spectacular. However, the location and the parking can leave you feeling like the Grinch.
Admission is $14.25 (adults) $10.50 (senior and youth) $7.75 (children) and free for children under 3 years old.
They are open from 4:30pm-9pm every night, except Christmas, until January 4th.
They have quite a few exhibits throughout the gardens. There is a Dancing Light show (every 30m), a model train, Lego creation parade (thanks to Vancouver Lego Club), themed areas and many other exciting things to see and do.
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 so you don't have to try carrying them for long periods.
The 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.
The Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain
For the past three years I have wanted to go to this. But the first year, I was pregnant and it just sounded like too much effort. The second year, D was too little. And this year, we are tight on funds and it's quite a big price for one day. Next year, maybe!
Admission is $39.95 for adults, $35.95 for seniors, $23.95 for youth, $13.95 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 $105.
The Peak of Christmas runs from November 23rd to December 24th.
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.
I've heard good reviews from everyone that has gone. The only complaints I have heard are that it can be very cold up on the mountain, compared to our milder weather down here. So make sure you bundle up with an extra layer (or five)!
*There is also Breakfast with Santa from December 14th - December 24th. What better way to enjoy a family breakfast than having it with Santa at the top of a mountain? This has an additional cost.
Robson Square Ice Skating
I've gone skating a few times here. It's nice to go downtown for the day and be able to slip in some ice skating. However, it seems that everyone has that idea lately! The last time I went, three years ago, it was stressful trying to avoid colliding into people or having a child skate into you and trying to not take them out as you fall over.
There must be a trick to when it's a good time to visit. I, unfortunately, haven't figured that out yet.
Admission is FREE. Yes, free. Zip. Zero. No money. -- So long as you have your own skates. If you don't, you can rent a pair for $4 (cash only)
The rink is open from Sn-Th from 9am - 9pm and on F, S from 9am - 11pm.
It's a short walk from the Granville Skytrain station. Or you can park in one of the many (pay) parking lots downtown.
Vancouver Christmas Market
This is another favorite of mine. I've gone twice and while it's a lot of the same things as past years, it's still enjoyable to go.
Admission is $6 for adults, $3 for youth/children and anyone 6 and under are free. You can save some cash by going on weekdays from 11am-4pm for only $3 for adults. And you can save even more money if you go during their 2-for-1 lunch admission (coupon needs to be presented at gate)
The carousel is $3/ticket or a package of 5 tickets for $10.
It runs until December 24th from 11am - 9pm, seven days a week.
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.
Burnaby Village - Heritage Christmas
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 $2.21 each.
It's open from November 23rd - December 13th from 12pm - 4:30pm and from December 14th - January 3rd from 12pm - 9pm (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 to smell and sample every Sunday.
There are various events (choirs, artists and theater groups etc) so check out the calendar on their website!
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?