A festival held in five different neighborhoods, the Winter Solstice Lantern Festival begins after dark and includes lantern processions, labyrinths, and musical performances.Address: Various neighborhoods
Dates: Dec. 21, 2012
Hours: 6–10 p.m.
- Chinatown: Events are held at the Strathcona Community Centre, the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden, and the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Park.
- Granville Island: Lantern parades move toward the island from the drum circle in Leg-in-Boot Square, Granville Island Triangle Square, and H.R. MacMillan Space Centre.
- Commercial Drive: The events—musical performances and a labyrinth of lanterns—happen at the Britannia Community Centre.
- There are additional processions held in the former Olympic Village in Southeast False Creek and along the seawall in Yaletown.
In 2011, the festival featured:
One of the best places for families during the holidays, Grouse Mountain offers many outdoor activities with a Christmas flair. Besides the winter-season-long skiing and snowboarding, December brings extras like Santa's workshop, sleigh rides, musical performances, and the outdoor skating rink. While many of Vancouver's holiday attractions stay in the spirit until the new year, Grouse wraps up its Christmas activities on Dec. 24.
The skating rink, a bit bumpy in places, feels like an authentic outdoor pond rink. A highlight for me was seeing the two reindeer that live on the mountain through to Christmas Eve—the last day for the festivities.Address: 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver
Dates: Nov. 24 to Dec. 24, 2012
Hours: 9 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Admission: $80 family rate (2 adults, 2 children)
The plants and trees at the VanDusen Botanical Garden are decked out in light strings for the annual Festival of Lights. Besides Santa, a duo of Christmas elves are on-hand in the garden. Check out the light shows around Livingstone Lake or an evening choir concert. With hot chocolate, apple cider, doughnuts, and pizza baked in a wood-fired oven, the garden also has some of the best eats.Address: 5251 Oak St. (at West 37th Ave.)
Dates: Dec. 7, 2012 to Jan. 1, 2013, closed Dec. 25
Hours: Lights from 4:30 p.m. to 9 p.m.
Admission: $14.25 adult, $10.50 senior and youth, $7.75 child, $32.50 family
Lighted waterfalls, lasers, and about 1,000 poinsettias make up the holiday displays at the Bloedel Conservatory in Queen Elizabeth Park. Started in 2010, the display provides a different experience to admiring the tropical birds and plants that also inhabit the glass dome's humid ecosystem. A Bloedel employee recommended arriving early to see the birds and plants, getting an admission stamp, and then returning after 4:30 p.m. to see the lights.Address: West 33rd Ave. and Cambie St.
Dates: Dec. 6, 2012 to Jan. 2, 2013, closed Dec. 25
Hours: Conservatory closes at 4 p.m. and the lights are on 4:30-9:30 p.m.
Admission: $7 adult
The entire 122 m (400 ft.) span of the Capilano Suspension Bridge is strung with white lights, and additional lights are hung through the forest and along the Cliffwalk. The best time to visit in the late afternoon. This means you can catch the bridge in the daylight and then the light displays at dusk.Address: 3735 Capilano Rd.
Dates: Dec. 1, 2012 to Jan. 5, 2013, closed Dec. 25
Hours: 10 a.m. to 9 p.m., with holiday lights and activities after 4 p.m.
Admission: $65 family rate (2 adults, 2 children)
See two million lights while riding the miniature train in Stanley Park. The ride covers 2 km (1.25 miles) on 20-inch gauge track. Kids can visit the North Pole and Santa Claus, making the event very family-oriented.Address: Stanley Park, off Pineline Rd.
Dates: Nov. 29, 2012 to Jan. 1, 2013, closed Dec. 25
Hours: Wed, Sat, and Sun from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.; Sun to Thurs 3 p.m. to 10 p.m., Fri and Sat 3 p.m. to 11 p.m.
Admission: $10 adult, $7 senior, youth and children
More than 40 gingerbread houses make up the cheerful display in the hotel lobby of the Hyatt Regency. Previous years have included a life-size gingerbread house designed, baked, and assembled by the hotel's pastry chef. Best of all, the event is free.
The gingerbread houses are submitted by a range of participants, from schools and businesses to the pastry arts department at Vancouver Community College.Address: 655 Burrard St.
Dates: Nov. 28 to Dec. 27, 2012