Flowery dreamscapes, mountaintop fondue, or riding the rails, here are some of the family friendly to-dos happening across Vancouver on New Year’s Eve.
- A festival of flora and fauna
One million lights, doughnuts and pizza are spread across 15 acres of VanDusen Botanical Garden as part of the yearly Festival of Lights. Offered from 4:30 to 9 p.m. on New Year’s Eve, the backdrop alone sells itself. Outside of the natural grandeur, other offerings include rides on the Air France Carousel, interactive themed areas and the dancing lights show. Tickets range between $11 and $20, and kids under three get in free. Info: ticketstonight.com.
- In and out before 9:30 p.m.
The Pinnacle Hotel Harbourfront hosts its third annual New Year’s celebration with parents and kids at the top of mind. The format follows the Eastern timezone, allowing for the countdown to happen right at 9 p.m. Pacific. A buffet dinner and drink are included with ticket purchases and dinner is served at 6:30 p.m. Tickets cost $69 plus taxes and fees adults, $35 for children and kids under four get in free. Tickets are online at Eventbrite.ca.
- A high-flying hootenanny
The Vancouver Playhouse plays host to all sorts of silliness and surprises as part of its New Year’s Eve Variety Show. Comedian Daniel Zindler highlights the cast, along with magician Travis Bernhardt. They’ll be joined by acrobats, magicians and some live music. The show runs 8 to 9:30 p.m. and tickets cost between $20 and $45. Tickets are available via Eventbrite.ca.
- Mountaintop views and vistas
As if an 8,000 square foot skating pond doesn’t sell this event alone, there’s also sleigh rides, acrobatics, fireworks on offer atop Grouse Mountain. Day-long activities such as snowshoeing and sleigh rides kick off at 8:30 a.m., while the evening’s party gets going after 5 p.m. A kid-friendly countdown and fireworks show happens at 9 p.m., though live music, skating, horseshoeing and other activities will be offered until as late as midnight. Info: grousemountain.com.
- Concord’s countdown
Arguably the largest event of its kind in Vancouver, Concord's New Year's Eve Vancouver runs the gamut with food trucks, tunes, fireworks and more. Centred around the Vancouver Convention Centre and Jack Poole Plaza, four main offerings are highlighted: a free street party on Canada Place Way; and indoor party with DJs and the like; an indoor, family-friendly party, or a more adult-themed VIP indoor party. All of the inside events happen in the Convention Centre. All in, the night will include 20 food trucks, robots, live music, fire dancers and tons more. Prices range from free up to $150 depending on your party plans. Info: concordsnyevan.com.
- It’s pizza time
Rocky Mountain Flatbread is going all pizza, all the time for New Year’s Eve. This-family themed celebration includes three-course meals for both kids and adults: the young’uns will get to try their hands at making a pizza or pasta dish if they so wish. Face painting, balloons and face painting will also be on the docket. Events are happening at both the Kits and Main Street locations. For info and times, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Run to the hills
Laser tobogganing is actually a thing. For proof of this, take the kiddos to Mount Seymour’s Family First Night, which is billed as the longest running family-friendly New Year’s event on the North Shore.
Beyond dipping you toes into the waters of laser tobogganing, interactive clowning, magic shows, roving clowns and live music are also are in the offing. Starting at 6 p.m., the show will be capped off with a fireworks finale at 9 p.m. Those making the trek are reminded that snow tires are a must. Tickets cost $25 a pop, while kids under two get in free. Info: mtseymourffn.ca.
- Walking in circles
St. Paul’s Anglican Church is offering a bit of quiet and contemplation to counter to the hustle and bustle of the season. The church will be offering a free evening of music and fellowship running 5 p.m. to 12:15 a.m. Choral and musical performances, storytelling, food and drink and walks around the church labyrinth are all the to-do list. All are welcome and the church is located at 1140 Jervis St.
- Light it up
The largest event of its kind in Canada, the Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival lights up the PNE nightly through until late January. More than 1,300 individual lanterns spanning 35 displays are displayed over 14 acres worth of space at Hastings Park. Beyond the light show, Chinese art and entertainment, face painting, acrobatics, folk dancing and more happens nightly. Family passes are available for $55. Times and tickets can be found at Ticketleader.
- Ride the rails
Now in its 20th year of lighting up the heart of Stanley Park, the Bright Nights celebration features three million lights, trains and displays. Live performers will greet those riding the rails and multiple trips are offered daily. Displays at the Train Plaza can be taken for suggested $5 donation. Those donations and a portion of ticket sales will go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters' Burn Fund. Train rides cost between $6 and $12 plus fees. Tickets are online at Ticketleader or can be purchased on-site on the day of.