Things to do in Vancouver at Christmas: What's Open, What's Closed

The list of Christmas activities in Vancouver for 2020 is sure looking different, as with pretty much everything else this year (2019 for comparison). In typical years there are gardens with amazing illumination displays, gingerbread house competitions, Christmas musical performances, holiday markets to explore, popular attractions all lit up and a whole lot more. Because of COVID-19, things will be a bit different this year. Some of our favourite Christmas attractions are still happening though,  others are cancelled entirely and there are even a couple of new ones opened! 

Free Christmas Activities in Vancouver

Burnaby Village Museum Heritage Christmas

When: November 21, 2020 to January 1, 2021
Where: 6501 Deer Lake Ave, Burnaby
Tickets: FREE! Reserve your spot by phone starting November 16th by calling (604) 297-4565 during office hours to guarantee entry.
About: Stroll through the 1920’s village and enjoy spectacular lights, vintage-themed displays and historical exhibits. Visit the Burnaby Lake General Store, Way Sang Yuen Wat Kee & Co. Herbalist shop, the Jesse Love Farmhouse, blacksmith demos and more. Limited capacity, be sure to reserve your spot in advance.

Lights of Hope at St Paul’s, Hope at Home

When: November 19, 2020 from 6:00pm to 6:40pm (launch)
Where: Online (and in person)
About: A livestream of the display will be available online from November 19th until January 4th. For those wanting to visit the display in person throughout the holiday season, please remember to do so safely, with “fewer faces and bigger spaces.” Limited edition Hope at Home holiday star lanterns are also available for purchase to show your support for Lights of Hope from home.

Lumière Vancouver

When: November 5 to November 30, 2020, nightly
Where: Jim Deva Plaza, English Bay (West End, Vancouver)
About: Returning to the foot of Denman Street is local favourite, “Davie”, a stunning, illuminated 24-foot-tall grizzly bear. Davie joins Luna, Stanley and Eugenia, a collection of nature-inspired light sculptures at English Bay. Lumière is also delighted to be bringing a new light installation to Vancouver this year, Prismatica, created by RAW Design.

Surrey Tree Lighting Festival
When: Saturday, November 21, 2020
Where: Online (then Surrey City Hall Plaza)
About: Hosted by Santa and Mrs. Claus, this year’s online event connects everyone at home on Facebook and YouTube Live. The livestream will feature performances from Warren Dean Flandez, Ashley Pater Music, Zaac Pick, DACEY, Quinn Pickering and more.

Activities with an Admission Fee

VanDusen Festival of Lights

When: November 27, 2020 to January 3, 2021 (Closed Christmas Day) 
Where: 5251 Oak St at West 37th Ave, Vancouver
Tickets: Available online now ($8 to $14) for timed entry
About: A magical winter wonderland with more than one million lights decorating 10 acres of VanDusen Botanical Garden. Reimagined for 2020, visitors will have the opportunity to take in the festival and experience the wonder of the winter season in a magical outdoor garden setting with themed areas, unique light features, and holiday music. A new one-way path will take visitors through a memorable holiday experience with ample outdoor space for attendees to physically distance from others.

Bright Nights Christmas Train at Stanley Park

When: November 26, 2020 to January 1, 2021 (closed Christmas Day)
Where: Stanley Park Miniature Railway
Tickets: Available online now for $10 plus fees for all age groups.
About: Bright Nights is excited to welcome you back to a nostalgic and much loved family event to help create a bright Christmas memory in a very challenging time. They have focused their efforts on making sure the train will be a fun, happy and safe experience for all. The experience will be a bit different this year… there will be no plaza lights and Santa won’t be visiting. All the decorating efforts will be concentrated on the train ride itself so all those same memories of riding the train through countless twinkling lights will still be there!

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

When: December 1, 2020 to January 3, 2021
Where: 3735 Capilano Road North Vancouver
Tickets: On sale online starting November 3, 2020
About: Face coverings will be required, timed/pre-booked ticketed entry required. Cross the glowing suspension bridge, and walk high above the forest floor between the eight tallest Christmas trees in the world on Treetops Adventure. The mesmerizing “Arc de Lumina” light tunnel returns on Cliffwalk for that perfect Instagram moment.

Steveston Festival of Trees

When: December 1-24, 2020 daily 10:00am to 5:00pm
Where: Gulf of Georgia Cannery (12138 Fourth Ave, Richmond)
Tickets: Regular admission rates apply: Adults $11.90, seniors $10.20 , youth under 17 and society members free. Admission by donation on Sundays December 6, 13 & 20.
About: Explore a forest of festive trees decorated by local merchants and organizations inside Steveston’s Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site. More details to follow.

PNE WinterLights

When: December 11 – 13 and 17 – 23, 2020
Where: PNE Gate 9 – east of Playland, off Bridgeway Street
Tickets:  Available online now (carload of four or less $39, five or more $49).
About: Buckle up for this safe, holiday experience that you can enjoy with your family from the warmth of your car along a two-kilometre route. You will be transported through nine enchanted lands filled with glowing lights in your mission to discover Santa, with special characters and festive performers to help you along your way.

Drive Through the Best Buy Tech Wonderland

When: November 20-29, 2020 from 4:00pm to 10:00pm
Where: The PNE
Tickets: Available online soon for $20 with proceeds going to the Boys & Girls Clubs of South Coast BC
About: You and your bubble, by carload, can take a magical guided tour featuring incredible displays, classic holiday tunes, epic eats, fun contests, and more in support of a great local cause.

Grouse Mountain Peak of Christmas

When: November 20 to January 3, 2021
Where: Grouse Mountain
Tickets: Advance SkyRide reservations required. Peak of Christmas activities are all complimentary with a Mountain Admission Ticket, Annual Membership, Winter Season Pass, or Lift Ticket. 
About: Enjoy the natural beauty of Blue Grouse Lake, lit by breathtaking light installations. Stroll through the light tunnel and marvel at new additions including a magnificent lit deer. Experience the tranquil beauty of skating on our 8,000 square foot mountaintop Ice Skating Pond, surrounded by snow-topped trees.

BONUS: Check out this list of holiday theatre in Vancouver, that can be streamed online from home.

Cancelled Events and Activities
Rogers Santa Claus Parade in Downtown Vancouver
CP Holiday Train
Vancouver Christmas Market
Lights at Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam
Surrey Santa Parade, Drive Through
Christmas at Canada Place
Bear Creek Park Christmas Train – TBD by November 20th

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