Christmas in Vancouver with kids: holiday attractions and activities

The merry and harried days of Christmas have arrived. These six festive, family-friendly holidays events in Vancouver will help keep spirits bright. | christmas in vancouver

The bustle of the holidays is upon us, and yes, we know they’re looking a little different this year. But the great news is that there are still many opportunities to celebrate the festive season with the family in and around Vancouver. From virtual flyovers of Santa’s workshop to spectacular light shows in gardens, canyons and parks, these joyful events and attractions are sure to brighten dark winter nights and add sparkle to the season. Gather up the troops for days of festive family fun and celebrate Christmas in Vancouver with kids and families.

*Note: As of early December 2020, many Vancouver holiday attractions and events have been curtailed or cancelled due to provincial health orders. For those that remain open, please consult attraction websites to determine operating hours and to book tickets online. Stay safe and happy holidays.

peak of christmas

Where to celebrate Christmas in Vancouver with kids

Burnaby Village Heritage Christmas

One of Metro Vancouver’s loveliest old-school Christmas attractions, Burnaby Village Museum’s historic site is transformed into a charming reminder of the holidays of old. The brightly-painted clapboard buildings are decorated with twinkling lights and natural decorations to foster a festive spirit. Note that, due to the current Covid situation, the site’s heritage carousal and gift shop will be closed this season. 

When: November 21, 2020 to January 1, 2021

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge

North Vancouver’s Capilano Suspension Bridge never looks quite as spectacular than during the holidays. The trees and namesake suspension bridge are covered in twinkling fairy lights that spill over into the rest of the rainforest and Treetops Adventure (the eight tallest Christmas trees in the world), creating an impressive display of light in the darkness. There’s also live seasonal music and kid-friendly fun including craft activities and scavenger hunts. Remember to hold on tight as you walk over the suspension bridge – it does tend to sway!

When: December 1, 2020 to January 3, 2021

Time to start planning your holiday fun in Vancouver! Check out these 7 fun and festive ways to celebrate Christmas in Vancouver with kids and families.
Capilano Suspension Bridge all light up for Canyon Lights. Credit: Claudia Laroye

Flyover Canada

Help Santa find his three missing reindeer at Flyover Canada. This virtual flight-simulation lifts off for a breathtaking eight-minute ride over Canada’s incredible winter landscape. From the wild East Coast shoreline to the vast prairies and soaring snow-covered peaks of the Rockies, everyone will marvel at how beautiful Canada is in winter. For Christmas, the ride takes on a holiday theme as guests assist two twinkle-eyed elves (Pinecone and Chestnut) on their reindeer search. The snowy pre-show segment gets everyone in the holiday mood, and be sure keep eyes peeled for the finale appearance of Santa’s sparkling North Pole workshop.

When: November 19, 2020 to January 3, 2021

Avoid the holiday hangries! Check out our guide on where to eat in Vancouver with kids

Glow Gardens at Langley’s Greater Vancouver Zoo

One of the Lower Mainland’s most popular Christmas lights extravaganzas will take over Langley’s Greater Vancouver Zoo site in 2020. At Glow Gardens, guests will be treated to an open air park space filled with a sparkling array of twinkling illuminations, huge light sculptures, festive live entertainment and seasonal food and drinks. Kids will especially enjoy the present-themed scavenger hunt and there will also be a chance to do some gift and treat shopping at local vendor stalls. 

When: November 18, 2020 to January 2, 2021 (5pm to 10pm)

Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Gardens

One of Vancouver’s most popular Christmas lights displays returns this holiday season, transforming the city’s VanDusen Botanical Garden into a wander-worthy winter wonderland of one million twinkling lights. As with each outdoor (and indoor) holiday attraction this season, the Festival of Lights has been reimagined to incorporate Covid-related capacity reductions and safety measures, including face mask recommendations and one way pathways.

Some features will not be running this year, including the carousel, visits with Santa and the dancing light show. Visitors will have 45 minutes to complete their visit.

When: November 27, 2020 to January 3, 2021 (4pm to 9:30pm)

festival of lights christmas in vancouver

Need gift ideas? A guide to the best travel gifts this holiday season

Grouse Mountain’s Peak of Christmas

Grouse Mountain’s Peak of Christmas  shines bright again this year. There’s loads of holiday happenings on Grouse Mountain, as it turns into a magical, snow-covered winter wonderland during the holidays. Reserve a spot and ride the Skyride gondola to the peak to enjoy the outdoor fun and illuminations, including the show-stopping Light Walk glowing light tunnel. This snowy journey will take you around Blue Grouse lake through a series of magical Christmas Lights in a beautiful illuminated wonderland. Take a spin on the outdoor skating rink, visit real-life reindeer and warm up with some hot chocolate inside the lodge while enjoying the city’s twinkling lights below. 

When: November 20, 2020 – January 3, 2021

Time to start planning your holiday fun in Vancouver! Check out these 7 fun and festive ways to celebrate Christmas in Vancouver with kids and families.
Take a spin round the outdoor skating rink on Grouse Mountain. Credit: Claudia Laroye
Time to start planning your holiday fun in Vancouver! Check out these 7 fun and festive ways to celebrate Christmas in Vancouver with kids and families.
Amazing baked creations at the Gingerbread Village. Which one gets your vote? Credit: Claudia Laroye

Robson Square Skating Rink

Lace up at the Robson Square Skating Rink in the heart of downtown Vancouver, just steps from the Vancouver Art Gallery. It’s the perfect rink size for taking the wee ones ice skating for the first time, and practicing your triple axels (or crossovers), if it’s not too crowded. Skate rentals are on-site, and check out the cute little Zambonis that clean the ice. Opens December 1st

Time to start planning your holiday fun in Vancouver! Check out these 7 fun and festive ways to celebrate Christmas in Vancouver with kids and families.
Lots of room to practice a triple axel at the Robson Square Ice Rink. Credit: Claudia Laroye

Winter Solstice Lantern Festival 

This year marks the 27th annual edition of this charming, family-friendly community festival illuminating the darkest night of the year. The Solstice Lantern Festival welcomes everyone to gather together in procession – preferably with a lantern they have made – into three Vancouver neighbourhoods (Granville Island, Yaletown and Strathcona). Dress warmly and expect music, dancing and singing as the strolling parade wanders along, illuminated by its handmade lanterns.  

When: December 21, 2020

Vancouver Christmas Market

Sadly, the popular German-style Vancouver Christmas Market will not be operating in 2020.

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Time to start planning your holiday fun in Vancouver! Check out these 7 fun and festive ways to celebrate Christmas in Vancouver with kids and families. #vancouver #familytravel #christmasinvancouver

Disclosure: The writer visited these attractions as a guest of Tourism Vancouver. As always, her opinions are honest and her own.

How do you like to celebrate the holidays with your family? Share your comment below.


39 thoughts on “Christmas in Vancouver with kids: holiday attractions and activities”

  1. Lots of things to look forward to this Christmas in Vancouver. The suspension bridge sounds like fun for me. I wish I could go back to being a kid again and enjoy the festivities associated with Christmas. So colorful!

  2. Murissa Shalapata

    I love checking out the Vancouver Christmas Market and I think it is a great idea moving it to the olympic cauldron area – make for picturesque photos for sure.
    I would like to add the St Paul’s wall of hope is a beautiful spot. I make an evening out of it and have dinner downtown.
    The Yaletown Candy Town outdoor Christmas festival with ice sculptures and food is a cool event too for visitors who find themselves in the downtown core.
    Great post!

    1. This are great suggestions Marisa! I totally agree with you that Candy Town is a lot of fun the kids and young at heart.

    1. I wish you were here again too! It’s much warmer, but much wetter this year so far. I could more sunshine!

  3. Shannon - SoleSeeking

    I’m moving to Vancouver in January and reading this makes me wish I was going sooner!

    1. How exciting for you! There will still be lots of fun things to do in winter when you’re settled in to west coast life. 😉

  4. Travelwith2ofus

    So many wonderful choices. Gingerbread Village would be my first stop. The other standouts for me would be the Enchant Christmas Light Maze and Market, Grouse Mountain’s Peak of Christmas, Vancouver Christmas Market and Flyover Canada.

  5. What an amazing city to spend Christmas! The atmosphere seems really magical, I’d love to experience it with my kids. I hadn’t considered Vancouver as a destination for a winter holiday, but I was clearly wrong, it seems perfect!

  6. Ahh, I love Christmas and this is making me super excited for all the festivities to start! These all look like great suggestions. I would love to check out the suspension bridge sometime, and it would be really neat to see it lit up with holiday lights. The maze an Fly Over Canada sound awesome too!

  7. It doesn’t seem like it should be Christmas time yet! Maybe I need to check out a few of these events to put me in the Holiday mood!

  8. Meg Jerrard

    I’ve always dreamed of experiencing a white Christmas, so would love to spend time during the holidays in Vancouver. We’ve visited during summer, but not yet during winter. Thanks for the inspiration! And Merry Christmas … in advance :D!

  9. Jenn and Ed Coleman

    Looks like a fun and festive time in Vancouver. You have your choice of options on how to celebrate the season.The Christmas market sounds super yummy.

    1. The Market is indeed super tasty! I’ve enjoyed many a fine pretzel and gluhwein over the years.

  10. So colorful and beautiful Christmas Season. I liked the illuminated Capilano Suspension Bridge.

  11. Sara | Belly Rumbles

    It is my life long dream to have a white Christmas. Living in Australia my Christmas is spent swimming, BBQs, avoiding the heat. I happily embrace every single one of these events.

  12. This has set the festive mood on!
    Here in Bangalore too there are celebrations but nothing the big ones you have shown.

  13. Jaillan Yehia

    I’ve done a couple of these in my previous 2 Christmases in Vancouver but hoping to complete the set this year 🙂 I really think that if you’re going to visit Capilano this is the season to do it, it is absolutely magical with all the lights and makes you feel really festive.

  14. The Canyon Lights event looks spectacular! I regret not going when I was Vancouverite. I’m going to share this with all my mama friends. Thanks for the great post.

  15. Going up to Grouse Mountains to snowshoe and see all the festivities is something we’d do every Christmas when we lived in Vancouver. I remember seeing the reindeer riding the tram up the mountain.

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I’m Claudia, an adventurous mom who loves to explore the world and travel with my family. This site shares modern-mom-tested family travel sanity tips, destination advice, and inspiration to stay ever curious and create lifelong travel memories.

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