Vancouver is known for its unique and diverse festivals, gatherings, and special events throughout the year – but it’s during the holiday season when the region really shines. With pop-up markets and themed festivals full of food and entertainment, there’s plenty to eat, drink, see, shop, and do this holiday season. Mark your calendar, get out your map, and get ready to enjoy the sights and sounds of the season in the greater Vancouver region.
Vancouver Christmas Market
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November 20 to December 23
It’s been 10 years since this event first opened its market doors in Vancouver and it has become a perennial favourite for people of all ages. With a nod to the traditional German Christmas markets, this event has become an annual tradition for many families who travel downtown by SkyTrain to take in the fun at Jack Poole Plaza at Canada Place. There are more than 80 artisan booths, including plenty of tasty German favourites from hot mugs of Gluehwein to schnitzel, goulash, sausages, and more. The event also features a huge decorated Christmas tree and a 40-foot light tunnel decorated with more than 20,000 lights. Purchase tickets at the door, or go online for a discounted price.
November 21, 2019, to January 5, 2020
Glow returns to downtown Vancouver this year with nearly 50,000 square feet of markets, lights, displays, and activities. This year, the festivities take place inside Harbour Convention Centre at 760 Pacific Boulevard, and features interactive activities and playgrounds for kids and seasonal beverages and live music for adults. With the indoor location, there’s no need to worry about the rain that is so common this time of year (or even snow, should we get some of that, too!) This year’s theme is Santa’s Lost Presents, and visitors will get the chance to help Santa’s elves find the gifts. Need to get some shopping done? No problem: the market includes a variety of stalls with gifts, crafts, food and more. For ticket prices, check out the website.
Swedish Christmas Market
November 16 and 17
Organized by the Swedish Cultural Society, this popular annual market returns with a variety of vendors offering arts, crafts, decorations, food, and gifts, including plenty of traditional Swedish items. Entertainment and Swedish treats (including Glogg and Christmas porridge) will be sure to delight. Admission is free, and the event is held at the Scandinavian Community Centre at 6540 Thomas Street in Burnaby.
Steveston Festival of Trees
December 1 to 31
Take a trip out to the historic and picturesque village of Steveston for a festive visit to the Gulf of Georgia Cannery’s Festival of Trees. This annual event features trees decorated by local organizations and visitors can vote on their favourites. Explore the history of this fishing village in the museum. If you’d like to add a little shopping to the visit, be sure to go on December 1, 8 or 15, for the regularly scheduled Cannery Farmer’s Market days. Regular site admission applies, except for market days which are free.
Aurora Winter Festival
November 22, 2019, to January 5, 2020
This winter wonderland is expanding this year in a new larger location at the Hastings Park/PNE site on East Hastings Street – meaning there’s more room for all the fun that last year’s event brought to the city. Ice skating, fairground rides, a tube park, characters in costume, and food gardens are just a few of the on-site attractions. Don’t forget to take a visit to the North Pole to see Santa Claus while you’re there.
What: Back for its second year but in a new, larger location, Vancouver’s very own winter wonderland village is crammed with attractions and activities for festive-minded locals and visitors. From fairground rides to ice skating and from a Yuletide market to sparkling illuminations, there’s plenty of chestnut-warming action to keep you busy here. Add food gardens, live music and a thrilling tube park, and you’ll find something for all the family. Whatever you decide to do, keep your eyes peeled for selfie-loving characters such as Yin the Yeti, Zaos the Ice Elf and Thyra the Ice Queen––and don’t miss a visit to the North Pole, home of the Jolly Old Elf himself. Check out ticket prices online.
Christmas at Hycroft
November 14 to 17
Check out the longest-running Christmas fair in Vancouver with Christmas at Hycroft. Held inside an Edwardian mansion with 17,000 square feet over three floors of unique crafts, artisan vendors, and more, this popular event has been running for nearly five decades. Visitors can enjoy mulled wine or hot chocolate during a break in the outdoor courtyard, and there’s plenty of yummy eats for a snack or meal. The Hycroft mansion, at 1489 McRae Avenue, is decorated for the season in traditional decor. Entry is $15, children (accompanied by an adult) are free.
December 14 and 15
Returning for its third season, this self-proclaimed “weird” market features all things unusual, unique and out of this world, according to organizers. With a host of unconventional local artists, quirky crafts, and all manner of oddities for gifting (or collecting) this unique market is the place to be this month. There’s also games, food and drink for those who need a break in between the shopping. Held this year at the Ukrainian Cathedral Hall at 154 East 10th Avenue in Vancouver, this is one weird event that should not be missed. Check the website for vendor information.
CandyTown in Yaletown
There’s something for everyone at this free outdoor market and festival in Yaletown. Happening the last Saturday of November, it’s a perfect kick-off to the holiday season with ice sculptures, food trucks, live music, horse carriage rides by donation, visits with Santa, and a holiday market, along with regular shopping at Yaletown stores. There’s even a CandyTown Cocktail Tour for the over-19 set. Organized by the Yaletown Business Association, this event drew 15,000 people last year to Mainland, Hamilton and Davie Streets.