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Feeling Festive? 12 Things to Do Near Vancouver at Christmas

Vancouver christmas events

As the nights become colder and we say goodbye to summer, the frosty mornings remind us of something special: The holidays are just around the corner, and Vancouver at Christmas is especially magical. 

Surrounded by ski resorts, Vancouver is home to the notable Stanley Park and christmas markets that bring people from all over the world. We can’t help but give you our top 10 things to do near Vancouver for Christmas. 

12 Things to Do Near Vancouver at Christmas

1. A Visit to Whistler

If you’re looking for a magical Christmas escape, Whistler is a must. Think snow-covered trees, Christmas lights at every turn, and holiday cheer throughout the village. 

We love it here at Christmas time, and we believe that visiting Whistler is one of the best things to do near Vancouver. Whether it’s a day trip or a week-long ski vacation, you can’t beat Christmas in Whistler. 

2. Axe Throwing in Whistler

Speaking of a visit to Whistler…..Axe throwing might not be the first thing you think of for a Christmas activity, but you would be surprised what a few Santa hats, tinsel, and Mariah Carey songs on repeat can create. 

But seriously, we love Christmas time at Forged Axe Throwing because we see groups of people come in and have some fun. With families, corporate groups, or just mates getting together before the end of the year, axe throwing is an activity for everyone during the festive season. 

Dates: Open every day 

3. Bright Nights in Stanley Park

Celebrating its 25th anniversary, Bright Nights in Stanley Park is a fantastic Vancouver Christmas event. You and the kids will see fire trucks, reindeer, and sparkling lights in the plaza. 

Plenty of food vendors serve churros, pretzels, popcorn, and hot chocolate throughout the night. One of the best things about this event is that the proceeds go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.

Dates: December 1, 2022, to January 1, 2023, 4 pm to 10 pm 

Closed: December 5th, 6th, and 25th

4. Festival of Lights

VanDusen Botanical Garden is beautiful year-round. However, when lit with Christmas lights, it’s even more magical. 

With over one million lights decorating 15 acres, you won’t believe your eyes at some of the displays. There are multiple themed areas, and no two scenes are the same. 

Dates: November 25 to January 2, 2023, 4 pm to 10 pm

Closed: December 25

5. Ice Skating

Ice skating just seems so much more fun at Christmas time. There’s something about skating around bright lights with Christmas cheer in the air. 

We enjoy skating at Robson Square in Vancouver. It’s a perfect family Christmas activity, and you can rent skates, frames, and helmets for less confident skaters. 

If you want a unique experience, go to Whistler to ice skate on a frozen lake. Our lakes freeze during winter, and the snowy mountains make for an incredible backdrop. 

Dates: Opens in December, set dates TBA

6. Christmas Markets

Is it Christmas time if you haven’t been to the Vancouver Christmas Markets? We love everything about these markets, especially the German-styled booths. 

There is also the Christmas carousel, a market-wide scavenger hunt, and the usual gifts, treats, drinks, and family entertainment. Oh yeah, and the endless amounts of pretzels!

7. Sleigh Rides

One of the best things to do near Vancouver for Christmas is going for a sleigh ride on Grouse Mountain.

The Peak of Christmas event at the ski resort includes sleigh rides, reindeer, ice skating, and many more family-friendly activities.

Dates: November 26, 2022 – January 3, 2023

8. Dog Sledding

A little bit different from sleigh rides, dog sledding is a fantastic experience with a pack of dogs who love to run. 

The best dog sledding is in Whistler, and even though it is not a specific Christmas thing, it is an enjoyable activity for those who want to try something different. 

Dates: November – March

9. Santa Photos

This one is a must, and if you think you’re too old for a photo with Santa Claus, you are wrong. 

There are plenty of Santa stalls all over Vancouver where you can have your photo taken, but the Surrey Holiday Lights Market is our go-to. Their setup just shines with the Christmas spirit. 

Dates: Now – December 22, 5:30 – 6:30 & 7:30-8:30

10. Christmas Light Tours in Vancouver

a tree in front of a tall building

Just a sneak peak of some of the impressive Christmas lights you’ll witness on a Vancouver tour.

Searching for incredible Christmas light decorations is a fun, family-friendly activity we love to do yearly. 

The Christmas Light Walk in Vancouver is a terrific choice for those staying around Canada Place. However, if you’re making the trip to Whistler, the village has one of the best Christmas light setups near Vancouver. 

The Whistler municipality prides itself on their Christmas light display and ensures that each year is just as good as the last. The snow-covered trees laced with lights are like a scene out of a Hallmark movie. 

Dates: Vancouver Christmas Light Walk – First Week of December | Whistler Lights – All Winter. 

11. A Christmas Pub Crawl?

A pub crawl is one of the best Christmas activities you can do near Vancouver. It just makes sense if you love Christmas cheer and beer as much as we do. 

A local pub crawl rumoured to be returning this year is the 12 Barz of Christmas in Whistler. This is worth the drive to Whistler and the hangover the next day. You will be knocking shoulders with the locals as you make your merry way around town. 

Dates: TBA

12. Santa Day at Whistler Blackcomb

On December 15, you can participate in or witness Santa Day. Hundreds of skiers and boarders dress like Santa and Mrs. Claus, bringing festive fun to the slopes. 

The first 100 people to line up for the gondola get a free lift ticket for being so festive. If you haven’t seen over 100 Santa Clauses ski down a mountain, you are missing out. 

Dates: December 15

Festive Activities Throughout the Sea to Sky

We are fortunate to live in such a fantastic area where we can have Christmas activities such as markets and sleigh rides near Vancouver and then travel to Whistler and stay in a winter wonderland. 

No matter how you spread your Christmas cheer this year, we know you will have a fantastic time. We would love to hear how you plan on spending your Christmas, so make sure to drop by Forged Axe Throwing next time you’re in Whistler.