Looking for some fun family-friendly festive events in Vancouver this holiday season? Well, look no further, the Courier has you covered. We've done the research so you don't have to. Check out some of our favourite festive events for kids of all ages.
Santa Claus Parade: Dec. 3
Families can enjoy two hours of entertainment at Christmas Square at the Vancouver Art Gallery from 10 a.m. to noon Dec. 3, prior to the Santa Claus Parade. The parade begins at noon at the corner of West Georgia and Broughton streets before travelling east along West Georgia, turning south on Howe and finishing at Howe and Davie streets. Visit vancouversantaclausparade.com.
Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park: Now through Jan. 28
In response to popular demand, the 12th season of Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park has been extended to Jan. 28. New this year, the famous Douglas firs of Treetops Adventure will be dressed in sparkling lights from top to bottom. Visitors will also enjoy the changing light display that illuminates Capilano River from the suspension bridge and Cliffwalk, as well as the magical illumination of the West Coast rainforest. Getting into the spirit of the season is easy at Canyon Lights with holiday craft stations, cookie decorating, a scavenger hunt and a sing-along with the band. Visit capbridge.com.
Bright Nights in Stanley Park: On through Jan. 6
The annual Bright Nights in Stanley Park event, a partnership of the Vancouver Park Board and B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, is aptly named — this year, more than three million twinkling lights will brighten the night sky in Stanley Park. Other highlights include festive displays, live entertainment and even Santa Claus himself. On Dec. 2 from 3 to 5 p.m., Bright Nights welcomes families and friends for a special anniversary event to celebrate 20 years of giving, festivities and lights with anniversary cake and more. Bright Nights is the Burn Fund’s largest annual fundraiser. All donations and partial proceeds from train ticket sales go to support B.C. Burn Fund programs. Visit vancouver.ca.
Vancouver Christmas Market: Now through Dec. 24
The Vancouver Christmas Market returns to Jack Poole Plaza with more than 75 huts stuffed with sweets, treats and treasures. Wander the market’s winding alleys and discover authentic German delicacies, including sizzling sausages, warming Glühwein (mulled wine), old world confections and more. Ride the glittering carousel, visit a 30-foot tall, walk-in Christmas tree decorated with 36,000 twinkling lights and enjoy live entertainment and many other festive family activities. Purchase tickets online to receive a complimentary season Pass. Visit vancouverchristmasmarket.com.
FlyOver Canada: Now through Jan. 7
Take off with Santa and his elves on a magical flight across Canada and on to the North Pole. After meeting two of Santa's helpers, Chestnut and Pinecone, join them as they take flight across Canada looking for their fellow elves. You may even get a sneak peek of Santa's Workshop as you soar over the North Pole. The Christmas experience lasts between 20 to 25 minutes and includes a Winter Wonderland themed pre-show, a thrilling eight-minute flight/ride experience across Canada, and an extended, animated final scene over Santa's magical North Pole. Stop by the festive outdoor sightseeing deck at Canada Place to enjoy Christmas lights, hot drinks and seasonal snacks. Note: Special Holly & Jolly passes allow you to visit both the Vancouver Christmas Market and FlyOver Canada in one visit to Canada Place. These limited passes include admission to FlyOver Canada, one hot cider at FlyOver Canada, entry and a season's pass to the Vancouver Christmas Market, a traditional beverage at the market, a Vancouver Christmas Market mug and an unlimited carousel ride day pass at the market. These passes are sold exclusively online at flyovercanada.com.
Sea to Sky Gondola -- Spirit of Christmas: Nov. 24 to Dec. 21
Visitors to the Sea to Sky Gondola can enjoy a winter wonderland along the Christmas Forest Walk, which leads back to the Summit Lodge to warm up with a hot chocolate. Other snow-play activities offered at the summit include snowshoeing and winter walking, snow tubing, headlamp hikes and a decadent holiday fondue ideal for sharing. As well, Santa will drop by the beautifully decorated lodge for pancakes and pictures Dec. 1 to 3. New this year at the lodge is an indoor play area for families. Regular story time will take place through December on Tuesdays and Thursdays from Dec. 5 to 21, while family sing-alongs are scheduled for Wednesdays. A holiday concert and sing-along takes place Dec. 10 with the Squamish Academy of Music. For a complete schedule of activities, visit seatoskygondola.com.
Scuba Claus Vancouver Aquarium: Nov. 24 to Jan. 7
The aquarium is once again celebrating the season with Scuba Claus, magical aquatic displays and special seasonal activities. Watch Scuba Claus dive daily into the Strait of Georgia habitat, see the “shocking” electric eel-powered Christmas tree and check out the impressive marine debris tree. New this year for the little ones is the Kelp Forest Maze and both the young and young-at-heart will enjoy screenings of Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer in the 4-D theatre. New photo opportunities with Scuba Claus, a jelly snow globe and a mistle-toad are not to be missed. Visit vanaqua.org.
Snow White and the Seven Dwarves Presented by East Van Panto: Nov. 29 to Jan. 6
The Panto is back at the York Theatre with an outrageous take on Snow White. In this East Van telling, the hero flees the Queen of North Vancouver across the Ironworkers Memorial Bridge and straight into the madness of the PNE, where she dances with Superdogs, takes a ride on the wooden roller coaster and befriends washed up 80s rock stars the Seven Dwarves. Pure Panto hilarity ensues as they do everything they can to escape the Queen’s wicked clutches. Visit thecultch.com.
The Nutcracker: Dec. 14 to 19
The GOH Ballet once again presents its traditional rendition of the classical masterpiece the Nutcracker. Experience Clara’s dream come to life as she embarks on a magical journey through the Land of Snow to the Kingdom of Sweets where she is greeted by the enchanting Sugar Plum Fairy. An unforgettable adventure awaits as her gallant Nutcracker battles the evil Mouse King and his army of mischievous mice. This heart-warming production will delight audiences of all ages with more than 200 glittering costumes, dramatic sets and valuable lessons — all danced to Tchaikovsky’s memorable score performed live by members of the Vancouver Opera Orchestra. Visit gohnutcracker.com.
Potters Christmas Store: Now through Dec. 24
For nine weeks a year Potters Christmas Store in Surry converts its 28,000-square-foot greenhouse into the largest Christmas store in Western Canada. Greenhouse benches are moved out and store fixtures are moved in, along with everything Christmas, Santa’s workshop is readied and the lights in Santa’s House are turned on. Weekends at Potter’s are especially festive in December, with live holiday music and appearances by Santa and Mrs. Claus starting December 2. The Clauses appear from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Saturdays and from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. on Sundays through Dec.17. As well, each year Potters staff shop the world for all things Christmas and purchase decorations and gifts you won’t see anywhere else. Visit potters.ca/Christmas.