It’s VFT’s 2020 hit list of Vancouver’s festive food, holiday events, and Christmas activities!
We’re the people who love hosting parties and going to parties, so the holidays are our time to shine. We love the variety of Christmas events that take place all over Vancouver in December and we’ve compiled a list of our favourites.
In broad strokes, here are three must-do Vancouver Christmas experiences you won’t want to miss out on:
Take in the Christmas lights
Vancouver (and this list) is chock-full of Christmas lights, spread throughout over the city! Millions upon millions of twinkle bulbs will light your way in the holiday season!
Holiday feasts and treats
Food is the best of the Holiday season – don’t let anyone tell you otherwise! Not only are we hosting our own holiday Foodie Tour on Granville Island, but we’ve made it a sport to hunt down the mouthwatering festive foods around the city. From Turducken sandwiches to Buche De Noel desserts, we’ve got a few favourites you can’t miss on this list.
Sure, the temperature dips, but that’s no reason to spend the holidays tucked away at home or in your hotel room. From free skating at Robson Square to local maker markets, winter season brings amazing events to Vancouver.
So strap in and allow the holiday spirit to course through your veins with these 32 must-do holiday activities!
1. DO & EAT | Christmas Classics Market Tour
Join Vancouver Foodie Tours on a special Holiday experience on Granville Island! The Christmas Classics Market Tour is Dec 1-30 only, where you’ll get a full progressive breakfast through the Public Market, including Cranberry Mimosas, Spiced Gingerbread Donuts, and Duck Proscuitto, and Cozy Chai Lattes. Filled with lights, festive foods, and excitement, you’ll skip the lines to taste the coveted holiday flavours that both chefs and foodies wait all year for!
Tickets: Adult – $64.99
2. DO & SEE | Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge
Just a 30 minute car ride from downtown Vancouver is an an epic holiday excursion to explore the glimmering lights over the Capilano Suspension Bridge, Cliffwalk, and Treetops Adventure! Breathtaking! Tip: If you’re wary of crowds, this experience is available until the end of January.
November 22 – January 26
Tickets: Adult – $53.95
3. DRINK | Steamy Chai Lattes from Granville Island Tea Company
This spicy, creamy, dreamy cup of Chai has all the Christmas feels. Featured on our Christmas Classics Market Tour, we’re gonna guess you’ve probably never had a chai like this before. Join us to find out the secret ingredient!
4. SEE | Robson Street Christmas Trees
Head down to Robson Square to take in four magnificent Christmas trees alive with light. The plaza is lively with music and (our favourite part) food trucks!
5. EAT | Holiday Meats at Oyama Sausage Company
Granville Island’s legendary charcuterie shop is the most popular stop in the Market, especially during the holidays! Tip: Join a Christmas Classics Market Tour to skip the crowds, taste Oyama’s seasonal creations, and enjoy an exclusive 10% discount!
6. DO & EAT | Vancouver Christmas Market
Did you see the VFT Foodies eat their way through the Vancouver Christmas Market? A picturesque German Christmas Market that is a Vancouver holiday tradition! Taking over Canada Place, the market offers over 70 huts stuffed with food, crafts, and all-around Christmas fun. Drink alert: the mulled wine is a must!
November 20 – December 24
Tickets: Adult – $15 at the gate, $13 online
7. EAT | The Turducken Sandwich at Meat and Bread
If you know Meat and Bread from our Gastronomic Gastown Tour, you’ll know the line often wraps around the block. Their Turducken Sandwich has an almost-cult following, but we don’t really care what you call us when we’re pursuing sandwich perfection.
Hint: Their house mustard makes an excellent stocking stuffer or host gift!
8. DO | Eastside Flea Holiday Market
A gem-of-a-market and a true staple of Vancouver life, you’ll find unique Christmas gifts from local businesses, food trucks, and holiday spirit.
Saturdays in December
9. EAT | Gingerbread Donuts at Lee’s Donuts
Lee’s offers a life-changing donut experience. (See: Seth Rogan and David Chang – Lee’s Donuts). Nothing says Christmas on Granville Island quite like Lee’s spiced gingerbread donuts. Available only during the holidays, if you want them hot and fresh out of the fryer, join the 10:30 am Christmas Classics Market Tour!
10. EAT | New Year’s Eve Snowshoe Fondue at Grouse Mountain
Ring in the new year with a one-hour guided snowshoe tour followed by a scenic cheese and chocolate fondue experience! There are only four time slots available, so if you’re up for you, you’ll need to act quickly!
11. EAT | All of the Nuts at The Nut Merchant
There’s a stand called The Nut Merchant on Granville Island and it’s how we win at stocking stuffers every Christmas. They have sweet and savoury concoctions that are perfect additions to mezze platters, dinner parties, or holiday gifts (for yourself or others). Warning: a pack of Maple Sriracha Pecans will disappear in no time!
12. DRINK | Winter Ale from Granville Island Brewing
Hints of vanilla, cocoa and caramel – this brew is a Vancouver staple during the holidays. (RIP to the vintage Granville Island Brewery branding in the picture above!) Keep your eye out for Winter Ale on restaurant menus or head down to Granville Island to taste it at the brewery!
13. EAT | The perfection that is “Buche de Noel” at Thierry
Otherwise known as the “Yule Log,” Chef Thierry has taken this traditional French dessert to new heights! The shop is known for all things chocolate, but we’ve got our eye on the Fromage Blanc with lemon curd, raspberry gelee, and sable base. P.S. Thierry is also an amazing place to get your holiday macarons!
14. SEE | Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Gardens
Experience the stunning Van Dusen Gardens in a whole new light (get it?). Don’t miss the lights/music show at The Pond! Don’t forget to buy tickets online to save $2.00!
November 30 – January 5
Tickets: Adult – $21 at the door
15. DO | The Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain
Great for the whole family! Scale the mountain by gondola and enjoy the beautiful view in the crisp winter air. Then, take a trip to the “North Pole” for breakfast with Santa & real reindeer! With skating, live music, and crafts, there is something for everyone at The Peak!
November 23 – January 6
Tickets: Families – $149
16. EAT | Holiday Treats at A Bread Affair
We’re like kids in a candy shop every time we visit Bread Affair (and that’s daily on our Christmas Classics Market Tour). During the holidays, they release a surprise set of festive treats. This year, the line up includes Chocolate Hazelnut Babka, Peppermint Blondies, Chocolate Sour Cherry Scones…and more!
17. SEE | Lights of Hope at St. Paul’s Hospital
100,000 dazzling lights are plugged in every night on Burrard Street, starting November 14! Viewing the lights is free, but this is St. Paul’s largest fundraiser of the year – you can donate here or text LIGHTS to 45678 to donate $20.
November 14 – January 5
18. DO | Flyover Canada
Buckle in for a 4D flight with Santa as he traverses the rich landscape of Canada and the North Pole!
November 21 – January 5
19. SEE | Vancouver Symphony Orchestra – A Traditional Christmas
Sit back and enjoy the talents of the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra!
December 10-14, 22
20. EAT | The Tarte Tatin at Au Comptoir
Allow us to explain this festive decadence: the Tarte Tatin is an upside-down tart where the fruit is first caramelized in butter and sugar before it’s baked. Au Comptoir’s version of the deliciously sticky creation features apples, spices, and raisins.
21. DO | Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park
Three million lights twinkling with Christmas magic are spread out through Stanley Park. The train is a great way to get both adults and children feeling the Christmas magic.
November 28 – January 1
Entry: By donation
Night train tickets: Adult – $12.00
22. SEE | Nutcracker Ballet at Queen Elizabeth Theatre
It wouldn’t be Christmas without the Nutcracker Ballet! Put on by Alberta Ballet, come relive Tchaikovsky’s timeless classic!
December 28 – 30
Tickets: Prices vary
23. EAT | Stollen at Patisserie Lebeau
Maybe you’ve heard about this stollen from our Foodie Tour Guide, Lisa? She’s pretty passionate about this as a Christmas classic is a must-have! Haven’t tried Stollen before? It’s a German fruitcake made just for the holiday season and no one does it better than Patisserie LeBeau. Also, their waffle game is on point!
23. DO | Free Skating at Robson Square
Vancouver usually doesn’t have snow but that doesn’t mean we don’t have ice! Go to Robson Square and BYO skates or rent on-site for $5.00! Make sure you have cash for rentals!
December 1 – February 29
24. EAT | Chocolate Cherry Panettone at Terra Breads
Literally everything at Terra Breads is amazing, but their Chocolate and Cherry Panettone is something special that’s only available during the holidays. Not too sweet, fluffy, and mouth-watering – the perfect balance of cherry and chocolate!
25. EAT | Thomas Haas Christmas creations
Thomas Haas and his master chocolate makers go ALL OUT for the holidays. Check out their Instagram feed… seriously, they go ALL OUT.
26. SEE | Gingerbread Lane at Hyatt Regency Vancouver (Free)
Stroll through the lobby of the Hyatt to see 30+ gingerbread creations designed by secondary schools, professionals, and amateur culinary artists.
December 1 – 31
27. EAT | The Epic Tiramisu at Nicli Pizzeria
Everyone talks about the Neopolitan pizza at Nicli; it’s even featured on our Gastronomic Gastown Tour. What people don’t know is that Nicli makes killer desserts, the Tiramisu being our favourite. It’s fluffy, light, and it’s got that lil’ kick of booze that we like!
28. DO | A Photowalk in Gastown
Capture Gastown’s dramatic reflections and dazzling holiday lights with a private session with Vancouver Photowalks. They’ll teach you how to take your photography to a new level with long exposure light trails and other special effects. Gastown during the holidays is a perfect location to master those elusive night shots!
29. EAT AND GIFT | Smoked Olives from Wildebeest
It took us years to discover the Smoked Olives from Wildebeest, but we’re so glad we did. Showing up with artisan smoked olives is the kind of party trick that makes you look sophisticated and thoughtful all at once – pop one into your martini and call it a night.
30. SHOP | Local Foodie Gifts at Edible Canada
Edible Canada’s retail shop is our go-to shop for our friends that love food. (You can imagine how long our gift list is!) They have a curated selection of unique and local artisan goods. During the month of December, you’ll often find local vendors inside the shop sampling their product. Pro tip: Join us on the Christmas Classics Market Tour to save 10% on your purchase.
31. DRINK | Cocktails on the Winter Terrace at Hotel Georgia
The Reflections Lounge at Hotel Georgia is transformed into a Winter Terrace for the Christmas season. Sip on festive cocktails and get cozy under the twinkling lights! Make reservations – the terrace books up fast.
32. DO | Get a Grinch Tree
We’ve spotted these adorable pots at V&J Plant Shop in the Granville Island Public Market and couldn’t resist!