Free Vancouver Christmas and Holiday Events

Lights, Parades, More Lights--and Ice Skating

You don't need to spend money to enjoy Christmas in Vancouver. Check out this list to find special ways to celebrate the holiday season without needing to reach for your wallet during the 2017 holiday season.

  • 01 of 10
    Robson Square ice rink, lit up at night.
    Ian Cook / Getty Images

    Since reopening for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, the free outdoor ice skating rink at Robson Square has become one of Vancouver's most popular holiday and winter activities. Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the Robson Square Ice Rink is open from Dec. 1, 2017, to the end of February 2018. Hours are Sunday through Thursday from 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. and Fridays and Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 11 p.m. The rink will be open on Christmas Day from noon to 5 p.m.  Skating is free; skate rentals are $4 (cash only), helmets and ice cleats are $2.


  • 02 of 10
    Yule Duel vancouver
    Courtesy of Yule Duel

    Twenty choirs from around Vancouver will join together on Water Street in historic Gastown from 6 to 9 p.m. on Dec. 7, 2017, to carol for charity: all funds raised benefit May's Place, a hospice in the Downtown Eastside. 

  • 03 of 10
    Vancouver Cristmass Tree lighting
    totororo / Getty Images

    The 11th anniversary of the annual Vancouver Tree Lighting Celebration happens in 2017 at the Vancouver Art Gallery in the very heart of downtown Vancouver. The celebration, from 5 to 7 p.m. on Dec. 1,  includes the ceremonial lighting of an impressive Christmas tree, plus live entertainment and cookies and hot chocolate as sustenance while you watch the lights go on.


  • 04 of 10
    Carol ships
    Courtesy of Harbour Cruises

    One of Vancouver's most unique holiday traditions is the parade of "Carol Ships"--ships decked out with elaborate Christmas lights--that take to Vancouver's waterways for nightly processions. Dates for 2017 are Dec. 1 to Dec. 23. To go aboard the Carol Ships costs money, but it's free to watch the spectacle at any of the shoreside Carol Ship events, including Carol Ship watching and bonfires in North Burnaby and West Vancouver's Dundarave Park.

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  • 05 of 10
    Kerrisdale Village in Vancouver, BC
    © Dana Lynch

    Kerrisdale Village--a picturesque shopping district in the southern Vancouver--celebrates the season with lots of free fun on Saturdays, including free horse and carriage rides, live Christmas music in the streets, and a chance to meet Santa and his elves. The holiday celebration for 2017 begins on Dec. 2 from noon to 4 p.m. and continues on Saturdays throughout December.

  • 06 of 10
    Courtesy of Rogers Santa Claus Parade

    One of the Top 5 Vancouver holiday attractions, the Santa Claus Parade features more than 60 marching bands, dance troupes, festive floats, and community groups, attracting more than 300,000 spectators along its route through downtown Vancouver. It comes to Vancouver in 2017 on Dec. 3.

  • 07 of 10
    Christmas at Canada Place
    Ruth Hartnup / Flickr / CC BY 2.0

    Canada Place goes all out for Christmas in Vancouver. This free event includes the famous Canada Place Sails of Light, the Avenue of Christmas Trees, and the historic Woodward’s Windows. It's all happening from Nov. 23 to Dec. 31, 2017, at the Canadian Trail and North Point at Canada Place.

  • 08 of 10
    Winter Solstice Festival at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden, Vancouver
    Courtesy of Secret Lantern Society

    Take part in one of the world's oldest traditions at this annual event that celebrates the return of the light after the year's shortest day, the winter solstice, on Dec. 21 in 2017. The festival lights up the longest night of the year with lantern displays, live musical performances, and events in Yaletown, Granville Island, and at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden in Chinatown. All festival events are free, but donations are requested.

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  • 09 of 10
    Lubavitch BC
    Courtesy of Chabad Lubavitch of British Columbia

    Held in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver, Light Up the Night celebrates the first night of Hanukkah by lighting Canada's tallest menorah. The celebration also includes special performers and free hot cocoa and latkes. Festivities begin at 5:30 p.m. on Dec. 12, 2017.


  • 10 of 10
    Holiday lights at Coquitlam's Lafarge Lake
    Courtesy of City of Coquitlam

    Coquitlam's Lafarge Lake transforms into a magical outdoor holiday wonderland each December, and it's all free. With 100,000 twinkling lights, Lights at Lafarge is one of the largest free holiday lights displays in the Lower Mainland. The lights will stay on until Jan. 21, 2018.

    You can drive to Lights at Lafarge or take the SkyTrain Evergreen Extension; the SkyTrain's last stop is Lafarge Lake-Douglas.