With the little ones out of school, and many people taking a few extra days of vacation around the holidays – not to mention the plethora of activities happening all month – this is an ideal time to take an adventure around your own city. Indoor or outdoor, morning or night, there’s plenty of events, outings, and activities to keep everyone busy. So take a break from the holiday movie binge-watching and head out to create some new traditions with our round-up of local fun.
Take a Stroll Into History
One of the region’s most unique attractions – and free, to boot – is the Burnaby Village Museum. Just minutes off Highway 1, it’s easy to get to whether you’re coming from Vancouver or points east. The museum is a unique destination complete with re-located original buildings from Burnaby’s history, a rare historic carousel ride, a fully restored interurban tram, a working blacksmith shop, and much more. During the holidays, the museum hosts its annual Heritage Christmas celebration until January 3, open daily except Christmas and Boxing Day. The event sees the village decorated for the season, and special activities such as Christmas crafts and a 12 Days of Christmas scavenger hunt, along with carolers and live music. Check out the full details on their website.
Robson Square Ice Rink
Lace-up those skates and get on the ice. Ice skating at Robson Square is one of the most iconic holiday activities in the city of Vancouver. Ice skating is free (though donations are gladly accepted in support of BC Children’s Hospital) and skate rental is just $5. This decades-long tradition is a great opportunity to head downtown to enjoy the holiday lights and have a meal at one of the countless restaurants. Open until February 29, 2020. Visit robsonsquare.com for schedules.
Winter Adventures on Grouse Mountain
It’s the peak (literally and figuratively) of the holidays at the top of Grouse Mountain until January 5. The mountain’s annual Peak of Christmas event includes ice skating, tubing, sleigh rides and more – all with one of the most incredible views of the city. The gondola ride alone from the parking area to the hillside is an adventure for all ages. Check out Grouse Mountain’s website for a daily schedule of events.
Afternoon Tea at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver
Running until New Year’s Eve is the popular high tea at the Fairmont Vancouver. This Nutcracker themed special holiday-version includes finger foods, holiday treats, and – of course – plenty of tea. Whether the tea is the purpose of the trip downtown, or just one stop of a day of sightseeing and shopping, it is sure to become a holiday favourite. Pricing varies for adults and kids (with under 5 free.) Visit fairmont.com/hotel-vancouver for reservations.
Escape the hustle and bustle of the big city but keep all the amenities, fun, and adventure with a visit to Whistler. Enjoy a white Christmas with world-class dining, outdoor adventure, shopping, skiing and more. Drive up and enjoy the Sea To Sky Highway through Squamish, or if the winter conditions make you nervous, look into bus or train options. Even if you don’t enjoy mountainside sports, there’s plenty to do in Whistler, especially at Christmas. Visit whistler.com for details and activities available.
The Aurora Winter Festival
Back for another year is the newcomer on the holiday block: the Aurora Winter Festival. With an incredible display of lights, rides, food and more at Canada’s largest winter festival, this is sure to delight the whole crew. Featuring a tube park, skating rink a hidden village, a Christmas Market and all your favourite holiday treats, the Aurora Winter Festival is the place to be for an all-ages holiday adventure. Visit aurorawinterfestival.com for all the info. Open until January 5, so there’s time before or after the new year to get a visit in.
Welcome the New Year with a Polar Bear Swim
Wash away the old year and welcome the new with this chilly tradition: a quick dip in the ice-cold waters around Vancouver. The Vancouver version takes place at English Bay Beach. In Tsawwassen, there’s another one at Centennial Beach. The 2019 version of the dip in White Rock was cancelled due to damage to the pier earlier in the year, but there are plans in the work for a 2020 version this year (which would also mark the event’s 50th anniversary. Plan ahead with warm towels, a thermos of hot chocolate, and a nice change of clothes – depending on the temperatures, the water can be so cold there’s even ice at the shore!
You needn’t be a tourist to the Vancouver area to enjoy some of the “tourist” favourites – enjoy a great stay-cation this holiday season with one of the above events, or the many other options available in the city and surrounding communities at this time of year.