Holiday guide to Metro Vancouver

Enchant Christmas Light Maze and Market

Promising to be the world’s largest light maze, with hundreds of thousands of LED lights, illuminated sculptures, and a giant Christmas tree at the centre, Enchant has something for everyone — especially with the associated food trucks and Christmas market.   

When: November 25 to December 31, 4–10 p.m. (check website for ticket availability)

Cost: $19.95 for a day pass or $5 for market-only access

Where: W 1st Avenue and Crowe Street, Vancouver

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The 13th Annual Rogers Santa Claus Parade

Featuring over 50 marching bands, choirs, and floats, the Santa Claus parade is one of the largest fundraisers for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. You’re welcome to head out early and claim a spot along the parade route, as well as decorate gingerbread men and Christmas tree ornaments, get your face painted, write a letter to Santa, and take a picture in the photo booth at the Coast Capital Savings Christmas Square.

When: December 4, 10 a.m. (Coast Capital Savings Christmas Square) and noon (parade)

Cost: Free, although donations to the food bank are encouraged

Where: The parade begins at Georgia and Broughton, then turns onto Howe, ending at Howe and Smithe. The Coast Capital Savings Christmas Square is on Robson between Howe and Hornby.

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Yule Duel

In its second year, the Yule Duel pits top local choirs against one another to see who has what it takes to be a carolling champion. You are able to support your favourite choir by buying a badge with proceeds going to May’s Place hospice on the Downtown Eastside. A panel of local celebrity judges will pick the top choirs out of the ones with the most votes so that they can battle it out on stage for carolling superiority.

When: December 1, 6–9 p.m.  

Cost: Free, although it’s $5 to support your favourite choir

Where: Along Water St. in Gastown

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Lights of Hope

Entering its 19th year, St. Paul’s Lights of Hope will be lit up for the first time of the season with its traditional fireworks display and community celebration with food trucks, choirs, and hot chocolate. All of the lights in the display — over 10 km’s worth! — are donated and then hung by volunteers. Only a small portion of funds raised go towards the display and fireworks, with the majority supporting the foundation.    

When: November 24, 6 p.m. (community celebration and fireworks) and nightly through the holiday season (light display)

Cost: Free, although you can donate to St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation

Location: St. Paul’s Hospital, 1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver

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Canadian Pacific Holiday Train

In conjunction with local food banks in communities along railroads owned by Canadian Pacific, the Holiday Train collects food and monetary donations for them. Each stop lasts about 30 minutes and will feature performances of traditional and modern Christmas songs and a short presentation by local officials.

When: December 16 (Maple Ridge at 7:45 p.m. and Pitt Meadows at 9 p.m.) and December 17 (Port Moody at 4:45 p.m. and Port Coquitlam at 6:15 p.m.)

Cost: Free, but donations for the local food bank are strongly encouraged

Location: Across from Billy Miner Pub, Maple Ridge; Corner of Harris Road and Advent Road, at the railway crossing, Pitt Meadows; 300 loco Road, behind Arena and Rec Centre, Port Moody; Poco WCE Station, 2125 Kingsway Avenue, Port Coquitlam

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Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting

Vancouver’s roving Christmas tree is back. After being outside of the Vancouver Art Gallery and Jack Poole Plaza, the 2016 Christmas tree will be at Robson Square. The lighting celebration will feature photos with Santa, hot chocolate, cookies, holiday crafts, food trucks, and the nearly 6,500 LED lights on the tree.

When: December 2, 5–7 p.m., although the tree will be there through Christmas Day

Cost: Free

Location: Robson Square (Robson Street between Howe and Hornby)

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Burnaby Village Museum Heritage Christmas

Take a trip back in time with the Burnaby Village Museum’s Heritage Christmas. There are different events and performers scheduled throughout the season, some of which are: roasted chestnuts, BCR Brass Band, quilting displays, holiday singalongs, and much, much more.  

When: November 21 to December 9 (Monday to Friday: 1–5:30 p.m., Saturday to Sunday: 1–9 p.m.) and December 10 to January 2 (1–9 p.m. daily)

Cost: Free gate admission, carousel rides $2.60 each

Location: 6501 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby

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Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park

Featuring over three million lights, Bright Nights Christmas Train is a beloved holiday tradition. The night train features a live performance to accompany the lights along the route. Santa will also be on location for photos, with all proceeds from the photos going towards the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.

When: November 28 to January 1, matinée train 10 a.m.–2:30 p.m., night train 3–10 p.m. (night train runs until 11 p.m. December 16–26). Closed Christmas Day.

Cost: Matinée train $6 + GST, night train $12 + GST

Location: Pipeline Road, Stanley Park, Vancouver

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Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Gardens

VanDusen’s Festival of Lights features lights programmed to music, a carousel (one free ride is included in the ticket price), photos with Santa, Scandinavian gnomes and reindeer, storytelling courtesy of the Vancouver Public Library, and more. There are also opportunities to win prizes by sharing photos of your trip with #VanDusenFOL, or if your photo is in Jardins de Paris, #JardinDeParis.

When: December 1–15 and December 26 to January 2, 4:30–9 p.m. December 16–23 4:30–10:00 p.m. Closed Christmas Day.

Cost: $15.24 online, or $17.86 at the gate.

Location: 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver

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Canyon Lights

Featuring the world’s largest living Christmas tree (153 feet tall), interactive light displays, plus hundreds of thousands of lights spread throughout Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, it’s like you are in a winter wonderland. There are also indoor activities in the Winter Pavilion such as cookie decorating and Christmas card-making (by donation) if you get too overwhelmed by nature.

When: November 24 to January 8, 11 a.m.–9 p.m. Holiday events begin at 4:00 p.m. Closed Christmas Day.

Cost: $32.95 with valid student ID

Location: Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver

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