A guide to spending the winter holidays in Vancouver

By Iciar Fernandez 

If you are like me and didn’t clue in the fact that it’s December until your Compass card yelled “insufficient fare” at you on Monday, let me tell you: the season of holiday cheer is upon us.

Okay, it’s also exam season, which may be putting a damper on your festive mood, but take the next five minutes to procrastinate and get excited about the many Christmas events that you’ll soon be enjoying if you’re planning to spend the winter holidays in Van. Guaranteed to get you on your best spirits to buy an (*another) overpriced Peppermint Mocha to help you through revision, and ace those exams!

A quintessential winter adventure in the city: Canyon Lights

Enjoy a walk in the already dreamy Capilano Suspension Bridge at its dreamiest time of the year, when the rainforest transforms into a magical world of sparkling lights and crossing the 230ft high bridge will be less terrifying because you’ll be blinded by festive lights and will literally see nothing else. While this option may seem a bit pricey at $39 (with student discount), as a resident of BC you can get an Annual Pass with your ticket purchase, which includes unlimited visits throughout the year!

For those who want their Instagram feed to look like a Christmas tree, continue your festive lights adventure at any of the (also dreamy) events below:

  • Bright Nights in Stanley Park (now until January 1st, closed December 25th)
  • VanDusen Festival of Lights (now until January 5th)
  • Vancouver Glow (now until December 24th)
  • Heritage Christmas (now until January 4th, closed December 24th and 25th)
  • The Peak of Christmas at Grouse (now until January 6th)
Find one-of-a-kind gifts and get a (literal!) taste of Christmas

The Kensington Craft Holiday Market (December 7th) is one of the few Christmas markets in Metro Vancouver that doesn’t charge an entrance fee that will already go over your budget before you even see a single vendor.  This event is not to be missed! Get into the festive spirit by buying your loved ones (or yourself) local goodies, and don’t forget to indulge in some mulled wine and holiday treats.

But, if you do miss it or one Christmas market is simply not enough for your holiday cheer, here are a few more options that you can check out:

  • 6 Holly Jolly Sundays of Art at the Pacific Arts Market (Free entry, every Sunday from now until December 22nd)
  • Vancouver Christmas Market ($15, now until December 24th)
  • Krampus Market at Strange Fellows Brewing ($2 online, $3 at the door, Dec 6th, 7th and 8th)
  • Make It! Vancouver ($15, Dec 11 to 15th)
Explore the city’s most festive spots for free

And save your money to drink your own weight in hot chocolate!

We can all agree that Christmas and spending money go hand in hand, and as students, we can also agree that can really suck. But don’t despair, all you need to get into the holiday spirit is your Compass card and your warmest coat!

  • Go ice skating at Robson Square. A total of $0 if you bring your own skates, but renting a pair is not astronomical at $5 a pair.
  • Take a walk downtown and see the Christmas tree in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery. A great spot for photo ops, completely free of charge.
  • Head to Kerrisdale and enjoy live Christmas music in the streets. Kerrisdale Village celebrates the holiday season with lots of free fun activities on Saturdays throughout December.
  • Winter Solstice Lantern Festival. Stay tuned for this city-wide event and participate in one of the world’s oldest Christmas traditions at various spots throughout Vancouver, from Yaletown to Granville Island, at least one is bound to be close to you!