Best Things to Do in December in Vancouver

Make Your Season Bright with Vancouver's Best Holiday Attractions

Wherever you spend them, there's something so magical about the holidays-and Christmas in Vancouver is no exception. Between the snow-capped mountains, the sleigh-full of holiday activities and the festive natural greenery, the holiday season really shines.

Make your season bright with a visit to the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver's Notch8 for afternoon tea. Throughout the year, they host a themed tea that's playful and delicious. For the month leading up to the holidays, they're pulling out all the stops for a truly magical experience. It really is one of the best places to experience afternoon tea in Vancouver.

When was the last time you ice skated on top of a mountain? Check that off your bucket list this year and head to Grouse Mountain. There, they have everything from skiing to snowshoeing to ice skating.

The Vancouver Christmas Market sets up shop at Jack Poole Plaza for about a month. This traditional German market is fun for the entire family. Adults can enjoy a warm mug of mulled wine, while children can tuck into a few Christmas sweets and ride the holiday-themed carousel. This market is open throughout the day so go for lunch, dinner, or to hang out.

Close out the year with Concord's New Year's Eve Vancouver as they host an epic display of fireworks in Coal Harbour. Throughout the evening there will be live music, entertainment, and food trucks. It's a family-friendly celebration so bring the kids.


On December 31, 2017, join Vancouverites for the much anticipated New Year's Eve celebrations in Coal Harbour. Since 2015, this new year's party has brought thousands of people out to ring in the new year. This family-friendly celebration runs from earlier in the evening until just after midnight. Spectators can expect to enjoy an enchanting and celebratory fireworks display. Throughout the evening there will also be live music, food trucks, and entertainment. This event is likely to attract a large crowd again so leave the car at home and take advantage of public transportation, or walk if you're close by. For more details, check their website closer to the date.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: These are the only fireworks you'll get to see in Vancouver and it's open to all ages.

Natasha's expert tip: Don't drive downtown on New Year's Eve. Public transportation is widely available.

Read more about Concord's New Year's Eve Vancouver →

The Vancouver Christmas Market is one of the best ways to get into the Christmas spirit. Inspired by authentic German Christmas markets, this holiday display is a fun place to hang out, grab a bite, and do a little Christmas shopping. For one month of the year, this market takes over Jacke Poole Plaza (right by the Olympic Cauldron). It's open during the day and the evening, so it's fun to check out any time of day. Warm yourself up with a hot mug of mulled wine and fill your belly with German dishes like spaetzle, schweinshaxe (a German pork dish), and other tasty options. While mom and dad sip some holiday cheer, kids will love riding the carousel. Also on the agenda? Live entertainment to keep spirits bright. The market is open from November 22 to December 24, 2017. Note, they close at 6pm on Christmas Eve.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Vancouver Christmas Market is the city's largest traditional German Christmas market and offers a festive evening for all ages.

Natasha's expert tip: Make sure to dress for the weather as the market is outside.

Read more about Vancouver Christmas Market →

From December 1, 2017 until the end of February 2018, head to Robson Square to enjoy ice skating on the outdoor rink in downtown Vancouver. The rink itself is a decent size and it's perfectly suitable for families. Not only is this rink conveniently located, skate rentals are super affordable. Make sure to bring cash as that's the only accepted payment method. The rink itself is covered so if there are winter showers, you'll stay nice and dry. If the weather is warmer, check their website or give them a call to make sure that the rink is open. Warm weather makes for warm ice!

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Robson Square Ice Rink is the only outdoor ice rink in Vancouver. It's such a magical way to spend an evening!

Natasha's expert tip: Skate rentals end 30 minutes prior to closing.

Read more about Robson Square Ice Rink →


Make your way to Stanley Park during the holiday season to take advantage of Bright Nights Christmas Train and Stanley Park Train Plaza. You'll enjoy holiday displays throughout, and with three million lights, you won't be disappointed. Along with the light displays, there's also live music. This event is awesome for the whole family and the little ones in your life will especially love it here. There are concessions available should you get hungry or thirsty. You have two options here. You can buy tickets to ride the Bright Nights Train, or you can view the light displays by donation. $4.00 is the suggested donation. Donations and a portion of ticket sales go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters' Burn Fund. Bright Nights is open November 30, 2017 to January 6, 2018. Closed Christmas Day. Note that from Jan 2 - 6, it's the train only, no actors.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Stanley Park is an iconic Vancouver landmark and this winter train ride is a must for families. Kids love it!

Natasha's expert tip: You can buy tickets online.

Read more about Bright Nights Christmas Train and Stanley Park Train Plaza →

This former golf course was transformed into a series of more than 40 specialized garden areas. Paths meander in and out of the gardens that feature Canada's largest collection of rhododendrons. The hexagon-shaped Korean Pavilion is the highlight of the Asian Gardens, and a wishing fountain is the centrepiece of the Children's Garden. Come winter, the garden turns into an enchanting light show. The VanDusen Botanical Garden's Festival of Lights runs from December 1, 2017 to January 7, 2018. The hours this year are from 10:00am to 3:00pm in December. This festival is an opportunity to stroll through the park and take in the sights and sounds of the holidays. There are over one million lights throughout the park!

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: VanDusen Botanical Garden is beautiful any time of year, but it's especially beautiful with all of the lights.

Natasha's expert tip: Bundle up as it can get pretty chilly walking around the gardens.

Read more about VanDusen Botanical Garden →

Outside the City

The Sea to Sky Gondola takes you on a 10-minute ride up the mountain to the Summit Lodge. Once at the top, this magnificent piece of nature is yours to explore. During the summer, enjoy hiking trails, a suspension bridge, viewing platforms, mountain biking trails, walking paths, rock climbing, a lodge and more. Come winter, you're in for a totally different experience! Bundle up and make your way to the top of the snow-capped mountain. They have different events that run from November 24, 2017 to January 7, 2018. The Christmas forest walk is a delightful display of lights that's along a stroller- and wheelchair-friendly trail. Other activities include a headlamp hike, breakfast with Santa, tubing (snow dependent), a community Christmas dinner, music, a holiday dinner with wine pairs, and so much more.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: The Sea to Sky Gondola is perfect when you want to take a day trip and get out of the city.

Natasha's expert tip: You can purchase a season's pass to save money.

Read more about Sea to Sky Gondola →

Grouse Mountain is open all year long for outdoorsmen and women to enjoy, but there's something magical about going during the holidays. During the holiday season, Grouse Mountain transforms itself into a winter wonderland that's fun for all ages. Take the gondola up, lace up some skates and take to the 8,000 square foot mountaintop ice rink. After you've spent some energy, unwind at Theatre in the Sky to watch some movies. Or, strap on some snowshoes and make your way to an igloo where you can draw some inspiration to build your own there. Afterwards, warm up with a cup of hot chocolate. There are a lot of other things happening throughout the holiday season to keep you busy, including a beautiful light installation walking trail, a sliding zone, skiing, and so much more.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Grouse Mountain's holiday experience is unforgettable. From an ice rink on top of a mountain to real life reindeer, it's truly a winter wonderland.

Natasha's expert tip: Check out their website for times of events.

Read more about Grouse Mountain →

About 20 minutes from downtown Vancouver is the area's most famous attraction, the Capilano Suspension Bridge. This local favorite sees some 800,000 visitors each year. The original bridge was built in 1889, and although it has since been replaced, there's been a bridge here ever since. Swaying 230 feet above the Capilano River, the plank and cable bridge stretches 450 feet from one side to the other. Other attractions at the park include the world's largest privately owned collection of totem poles, hiking trails, two cafes and a gift shop. Starting on November 23, 2017 to January 8, 2018, join Capilano Suspension Bridge for their Canyon Lights celebration. The park is adorned with hundreds of thousands of festive lights, a living Christmas tree, and live music. You can also decorate gingerbread cookies and make Christmas cards (by donation). This year, check out the eight tallest Christmas trees in the world!

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Between the lights, the world's tallest living Christmas (153 feet tall!), and the live band, it doesn't get much more festive than this!

Natasha's expert tip: Bundle up as it gets pretty chilly on the North Shore.

Read more about Capilano Suspension Bridge and Regional Park →

No matter what time of year you go, there's something so magical about going to the ballet. When you throw in a classic Christmas story, incredible costumes, and Tchaikovsky's timeless music, you're in for an extra special experience. Along with the Alberta Ballet, join Ballet BC's annual production of The Nutcracker. From the costumes and sets to the dancing and music, this is an incredible performance to check out. For many, it's an annual tradition, and an excuse to put on something fancy. The ballet takes place at Queen Elizabeth Theatre in downtown Vancouver and runs from December 28th until the 30th. The performance is at 7:30pm, with a 2:00pm option on the weekend. Tickets can be purchased through Ticketmaster.

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Ballet BC presents Alberta Ballet The Nutcracker in Vancouver's production is a stunning rendition of this holiday classic.

Natasha's expert tip: If you can get your tickets early, you'll be able to choose from the best seats in the house.

Read more about Ballet BC presents Alberta Ballet The Nutcracker in Vancouver →

Whether you're rushing around shopping or tackling some outdoor festivities, heading inside for warmth and sustenance is a welcome reprieve-especially when it's afternoon tea at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver's Notch8. Throughout the year, Notch8 switches up their afternoon tea's theme and you can be sure they're going full-on festive for the holidays. Step inside the private dining room and enjoy the magical experience as you tuck into scones, pastries, panna cotta, and finger sandwiches. If you're bringing a little one, they also offer kid-friendly treats. The holiday afternoon tea has three daily sittings and runs from November 29th, 2017 - January 2nd, 2018 (excluding December 24th, 25th and 31st).

Recommended for Things to Do in December because: Between the food, ambiance and service, afternoon tea at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver's Notch8 is unparalleled.

Natasha's expert tip: Afternoon tea at Notch8 is quite popular so be sure to make a reservation.

Read more about Afternoon Tea at The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver →


Meet Natasha John

Natasha is not born and raised in Vancouver, but is pretty certain it's her spirit hometown. After jumping around Canada, Texas, Arkansas and the UK, she has her feet firmly planted in...  More About Natasha