Calling all local holiday fanatics and Scrooges! Seeking some Christmas spirit? Looking for a festive socializer? Do you want to sing along with choirs caroling seasonal songs? For you, we’ve dished up what we consider to be a pretty well-rounded list of Metro Vancouver events, performances and activities. All are perfect opportunities to don your ugliest Christmas sweater.
Is the list exhaustive? Admittedly it is not. If you’re after a laundry list of breakfasts with Santa or craft fairs you’ll have to search the web yourself. But if you’re seeking grand musical performances, buzzing holiday markets and parades, look no further.
Looking for your city? This holiday event round up starts in West Vancouver and then sweeps south east. We’ve then lumped participatory events according to date separately from stage performances. Happy holidays!
Holiday Activities & Events in West Vancouver
Dundarave Festival of Lights
Where: Dundarave Park, West Vancouver Dates: November 28 – January 2
Walk in the warmth of over one hundred beautifully decorated trees, all sponsored by individuals, groups and local businesses. Each tree is elaborately adorned with lights and ornaments, and together they form the Forest of Miracles. Festival proceeds benefit Lookout Society, a group committed to ending homelessness. Dundarave Festival of Lights is a popular one, with 70,000 people expected to admire the trees.
In addition to the Forest of Miracles, the festival hosts four free concerts (the first was on 11/28):
Dundarave Nativity & Paddle Songs
Date: December 5, noon through dusk Details: Christmas like you’ve never heard it before! Take in the ground breaking music of local songwriters to the ancient songs the ancestors of the Squamish Elders. Website:dundaravefestival.com/nativity-paddle-songs
Date: December 12, noon through dusk Details: Songs from all corners of the globe will ring clear in a celebration of Canada’s diversity. Tap your toe to the tunes, from Celtic to Francophone to Mariachi. Website:dundaravefestival.com/world-christmas
Where: Kay Meek Centre 1700 Mathers Avenue West Vancouver V7V 2G7 Date & times:
December 4: 8 p.m.
December 5: 2 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. Details: A festive performance of seasonal songs to lift spirits and herald in the holidays.
Website: Click here
Mingle of the Jingles
Where: Kay Meek Centre 1700 Mathers Avenue West Vancouver V7V 2G7 Date: December 9 Time: 7 p.m. Details: An evening variety show and silent auction. With performances in dance and music, the tenth annual Mingle of the Jingles is sure to fan the flames of holiday spirit. It’s a heartwarming one too; all proceeds benefit the North Shore Connexions Society – making opportunities happen for people with special needs. Website:mingleofthejingles.com
An Old Fashioned Christmas
Where: Kay Meek Centre 1700 Mathers Avenue West Vancouver V7V 2G7 Date: December 10 -12 Time: 8 p.m. Details: One evening, two special performances. First up is the award winning play GRANDPA ‘N ME. Then a Special Christmas Concert with vocalist Cayla Brooke featuring pianist Bill Sample. Website:Click here
Mammy Christmas Variety Special
Where: Kay Meek Centre 1700 Mathers Avenue West Vancouver V7V 2G7 Date: December 22 Time: 7 p.m., doors open at 6:30 p.m. Details: What started as a gift to his mammy has now grown to an annual variety show. Talented performers put on an evening of fun while fundraising in support of loved ones suffering from Multiple Sclerosis.
Holiday Activities & Events in North Vancouver
Peak of Christmas: Grouse Mountain
Where: 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver V7R 4K9 Dates: November 27 – January 4
Come enjoy the festivities of this winter wonderland. New this year is the Light Walk, a winter trail light installation. Perennial Peak of Christmas favourites include meeting Santa Claus at Santa’s Workshop, craft stations, ice skating under the stars, watching classic family-friendly Christmas movies at Theatre in the Sky, and admiring the sweet creations of the SOS Children’s Gingerbread Village competition.
Events that kick off later in the month include mountaintop sleigh rides and the Sliding Zone, a play space created just for wild rides on magic carpets.
Special Event: Choir Performances in the Chalet
Dates: Dec. 6, 13, 20 and 24 Time: 1 p.m.- 3 p.m. Details: Listen to Christmas classics and gospel music with Checo and his VOC Sweet Soul Gospel Choir Website:grousemountain.com/peak-of-christmas
Christmas at the Market: Lonsdale Quay
Date: December 5 Time: 12 p.m. – 5 p.m. Details: Story time, Santa photos, children’s crafts, Perform Art Studios dance show
Where: VanDusen Botanical Garden Address: 5251 Oak St, Vancouver V6M 4H1 Dates: December 1-31 Time:
December 1 – 17, 24, 26 – 31: 4:30 to 9 p.m
Open late December 18 – 23: 4:30 to 10:00 p.m.
Closed December 25
Come December, more than a million lights adorn the property’s gardens. No December is complete without strolling about this twinkling wonderland. One of our favourite highlights are the Dancing Lights on Livingstone Lake which are programmed to classic and holiday songs. Santa will be on site receiving holiday letters from the kids and of course taking photos with tots on the nice list. Performances by a Scandinavian Gnome Show, storytelling, the Vancouver Bach Choir and more all promise to entertain and delight.
Where: Queen Elizabeth Theatre Plaza Address: 650 Hamilton St, Vancouver V6B 2P1 Dates: November 21 – December 24 Times: 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.; closes at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve
For the sixth year in a row the plaza has been magically transformed into a German-style Christkindlmarkt. Over 50 vendors sell hand-crafted holiday decorations, serve up bratwursts, currywurst, Black Forest Cake, pretzels, waffles, spuds on a stick and more. There’ll be plenty of live music and X-Mas Factor, a holiday themed singing competition. Come with friends and warm up with a cup of glühwein . A single ticket will gain you entry to the Vancouver Christmas Market for the entire season.
During the holiday season, the Bright Nights Christmas Train and Stanley Park Train Plaza sparkle with three million twinkling lights. Ride the train or simply admire the incredible displays. A portion of the revenue benefits the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund. Bright Nights is a beloved Vancouver holiday event and a must-do, especially for families with young children.
Yule Duel: Vancouver’s first street-caroling competition
Where: Water Street, Gastown Date: Thursday, December 3 Time: 6 p.m.
Yule Duel will see more than 20 choirs performing in this family-friendly, completely free fundraising event. Proceeds will benefit May’s Place, a hospice in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside.
Where: Bloedel Conservatory Address: Queen Elizabeth Park – access via Midlothian Avenue Dates: December 4- January 3 (closed Christmas day) Times: 4 p.m. – 9 p.m. (in addition to regular operating hours)
This tropical oasis and its surrounding fountains will be decorated with whimsical string lights. Take a walk through the tropical flora and fauna while enjoying a treat and then a pony ride. Bonus: if you visit the VanDusen Festival of Lights you automatically gain free entry to the conservatory.
Where: Downtown Vancouver Parade route: The route kicks off at Broughton and Georgia and will proceed east to Howe Street. From here, the parade travels south along Howe, terminating at Davie. Date: December 6 Time: 1 p.m.
This year marks the 12th annual Rogers Santa Claus Parade. The 1.8 kilometre parade will feature more than 60 marching bands, choirs, festive floats, and community groups. That’s more than 3,500 participants! Festivities kick off at 11 a.m. at the Coast Capital Savings Christmas Square in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. There will be many seasonally themed activities and a food-bank drop off supporting the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. With 300,000 people expected to turn out, spectators are encouraged to use designated pedestrian crosswalks and arrive via public transit.
Where: Burnaby Village Museum 6501 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby V5G 3T6 Dates: December 1 – January 1 (Closed December 24 and 25) Time: 1 p.m. – 9 p.m. Some days close early – see link below
Thousands of lights decorate village streets for a simply enchanting ambiance. You’ll find twinkling tree wraps in the orchard, lights adorning the bridge and even more lights draped along the path leading from Elworth to the Bandstand. Moreover, the museum will be hosting a myriad of festive events throughout the month; from choirs to bandstand performances to BINGO to stories and baking. Daily activities include carousel rides, old fashioned Christmas films, blacksmith demonstrations and a sleigh with reindeer photostop. Additionally, most days host a scavenger hunt, sing-a-long and lunch special.
Where: Willingdon Community Centre 1491 Carleton Avenue Burnaby Date: December 5 Time: 9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
Come and shop for slightly used Christmas decorations, holiday themed household items, nearly new gifts, and seasonal crafts. There will also be a Breakfast with Santa hosted on site from 10 a.m. – 11:30 a.m. ($9 per person)
Where: Steveston Village Date: December 24 Time: 6 p.m. – 8 p.m. Details: A small parade will wind through Steveston and of course brings Santa Claus with it. This is a free family-friendly event. Website:Click here
Have Yourself a Merry Musical Christmas
Where: Aberdeen Centre Richmond 4151 Hazelbridge Way, Richmond V6X 4J7 Dates: Almost daily, now through December 27 Time: Varying times – see schedule here Details: A wide array of orchestras, bands and choirs will be performing holiday themed music in the Central Atrium. Website:Click here
Christmas with Friends
Where: Fraserview Mennonite Church 11295 Melis Drive, Richmond Date: December 5 Time: 7:30 p.m. Details: Richmond Orchestra and Chorus joins forces with the Richmond Singers to celebrate the Christmas Season in song Website:roca.ca
Holiday Activities & Events in Surrey
Big Rigs for Kids Lighted Truck Parade
Where: Downtown Surrey Parade route: Along University Drive, with a one hour stop in front of the library for all to admire the lights Date: December 6, rain or shine Time: 6:30 p.m. – 8 p.m. Details: A parade of big trucks decorated with hundreds of string lights will dazzle after dark, all for a great cause. The Surrey Christmas Bureau and the Surrey Food Bank will be on site accepting donations of non-perishable food items. The North Surrey Lions Club will be selling hot chocolate and hot dogs, again with all proceeds going to the local food bank. Kids can get their face painted at City Hall Plaza which will be accompanied by live music performances. Website:tourismsurrey.com/lighted-truck-parade
Where: Bear Creek Park, 13750 88 Avenue, Surrey Date: December 6 – January 4 Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. (closed Christmas Day) Details: Meet Santa Claus (December 4-24), enjoy children’s activities and ride the train through the Christmas Forest. Website:bctrains.com/christmas-train
Skating at Winter Ice Palace
Where: Cloverdale Arena, 6090 176 Street, Surrey, BC Date: December 18 through January 3 Time: Varying – see link below for the schedule Details: For 18 years families have been skating through the holidays at the annual Winter Ice Palace. The arena will be transformed to a winter wonderland, complete with an old fashioned pond. Skate rentals available. Website:Click here
Bach Choir Sing-A-Long Messiah
Where: White Rock Baptist Church, 1657 140th Street, Surrey Date: December 5 Time: 8 p.m. Details: Sing along to the traditional sounds of Christmas. Handel’s Messiah will be performed by the 80 person Vancouver Bach Choir. 2015 marks the event’s second annual performance and it is quickly becoming an annual favourite. Website:peninsulaproductions.org
Sounds of the Season Holiday Concert: Surrey Symphony Society
Where: Chandos Pattison Auditorium, 10238 168th Street, Surrey Date: December 6 Time: 7 p.m. Details: An evening of holiday melodies put on by the Junior Strings, Intermediate Orchestra, and Youth Orchestra. You’ll hear the likes Beethoven’s exuberant Symphony No. 7 and Brahm’s lively Hungarian Dance #5. Let the classics joyously ring in the holiday season. Website:surreysymphony.com
Vancouver Welsh Men’s Choir: Sounds of Christmas
Where: Surrey Arts Centre, 13750 88 Avenue Surrey Date: December 8 Time: 7:30 p.m. Details: One hundred voices will fill the room with festive songs, carols and readings. This popular show has sold out in the past. Get your tickets before they’re gone. Website:vwmc.ca
The Nutcracker: Royal City Youth Ballet
Where: Main Stage at the Surrey Arts Centre, 13750 88 Avenue, Surrey Date: December 11-13 Time: Friday: 7 p.m.; Saturday & Sunday: 1 p.m. and 4 p.m. Details: What’s Christmas without watching a performance of the Nutcracker? Tchaikovsky’s classic scores and the tale of a brave Nutcracker battling a wicked Rat King is a holiday classic. Details & tickets found here:tickets.surrey.ca
Holiday Activities & Events in Chilliwack
Cultus Lake Christmas
Where: Main Beach Gazebo, Cultus Lake Date: December 4-6 Time: 5 p.m. – 8 p.m. Details: Toast marshmallows over a beach bonfire while listening to live Christmas entertainment. Hot chocolate and cider provided by Panago as lights twinkle over the lake. The local fire department will be on site accepting donations and canned goods. This is a free family-friendly event. Website:cultuslakechristmas.ca
Petey’s Country Christmas
Frightmare Before Christmas
Where: 9423 Gibson Rd, Chilliwack V2P 6H4 Date: December 11 Time: 5 p.m. – 9 p.m. Details: Round up the entire family and make for the 3rd annual Petey’s Country Christmas. Enjoy holiday decor, bounce rides, activities and even a visit from Santa. This year also brings something entirely new: Frosty’s Light Maze. Venture through the animated attraction, meeting Jack, Sally, Zero and other frightful friends. Bring one or more non-perishable food items (per person) and save $1.00 off your admission. Website:fantasyfarmsinc.ca
Christmas at Kilby
Where: Kilby Historic Site 215 Kilby Road, Harrison Mills V0M 1L0 Date: December 12 and 13 Time: 12 p.m. and 2 p.m. sittings Details: A traditional Christmas lunch with turkey and all the trimmings. After lunch, step back in time at this historic site or peruse the gift shop for unique gifts. Website:kilby.ca/christmas-at-kilby
Market Madness – Countdown to Christmas
Where: Evergreen Hall 9291 Corbould Street, Chilliwack Date: December 13 Time: 10 a.m. – 4 p.m. Details: An festive market featuring homemade products and home-based vendors. Find unique goods to finish up your shopping while supporting local artisans. Free entry, free parking and a tasty food menu available on site.
Website: Click here
Where: Chilliwack Cultural Centre 9201 Corbould Street Chilliwack V2P 4A6 Date: December 12 Time: 7:30 p.m. Details: “Messiah is one of the most loved oratorios performed at Christmas, and this season the Chilliwack Symphony Orchestra and Chorus will devote the whole concert to Messiah.” This is a performance steeped in holiday tradition and features guest soloists and elementary school students. Website:chilliwackculturalcentre.ca/handels-messiah
Handel’s Messiah Sing-a-Long
Where: Chilliwack Cultural Centere 9201 Corbould Street Chilliwack V2P 4A6 Date: December 13 Time: 3 p.m. Details: If you can’t help but hum along, you don’t need to hold back any longer. Sing classic holiday harmonics with guest soloists and the orchestra. Website:chilliwackculturalcentre.ca/handels-messiah
Where: TRADEX (Fraser Valley Trade and Exhibition Centre) 1190 Cornell St, Abbotsford V2T 6H5 Dates: December 4,5,6, 10, 12, 13, 19-23 Time: Varies, see website link below for a complete schedule Details: Interactive scenes and activities, Christmas characters, rides, market vendors, twinkling lights, gingerbread houses, visits with Santa and toy making – all the family festive fun one could want. $6 parking, can purchase admission in advance online.
Where: Matsqui Centennial Auditorium 32315 South Fraser Way, Abbotsford Date: December 19 Time: 8 p.m.; 2.5 hours long Details: Take in a holiday performance by the musicians and actors of Gallery 7 Theatre and Pacific Theatre. The show also features the talent of Ron Reed and Ken Hildebrandt. Website:gallery7theatre.com/christmas-2015