Use this list to find the best free things to do in Vancouver for Christmas and the winter holidays, whether you're looking for family fun, a romantic evening, or the best way to celebrate the season.
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Free Ice Skating at Robson Square - December 1, 2016 - February 14, 2017
Since reopening for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, the free outdoor ice skating at Robson Square has become one of Vancouver's most popular winter activities. Located at 800 Robson Street (just across from the Vancouver Art Gallery in the heart of downtown Vancouver), the Robson Square Ice Rink is open Sunday - Thursday from 9am - 9pm and Fridays & Saturdays from 9am - 11pm. Skating is free; skate rentals are $4 (cash only), helmets and ice cleats are $2.
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Twenty choirs from around Vancouver will join together in historic Gastown (Water Street) to carol for charity: all funds raised benefit May's Place, a hospice in the Downtown Eastside.
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The tenth anniversary of the annual Vancouver Tree Lighting Celebration happens in Robson Square this year, in the very heart of Downtown Vancouver. The celebration includes the ceremonial lighting of a 50-foot Christmas Tree, plus live entertainment.
Charitable donations are requested for the Vancouver International Children’s Festival.
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One of Vancouver's more 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. 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.Continue to 5 of 10 below.
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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.
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One of the Top 5 Vancouver Holiday Attractions, the Rogers Santa Claus Parade features over 60 marching bands, dance troupes, festive floats and community groups, attracting over 300,000 spectators along its route through downtown Vancouver.
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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. The Festival includes lantern displays, live musical performances, and events in five Vancouver neighbourhoods, including Yaletown, the Downtown Eastside, Granville Island, and at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden in Chinatown. All Festival events are free, but donations are requested.Continue to 9 of 10 below.
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Held in front of the Vancouver Art Gallery in downtown Vancouver, Light Up the Night celebrates the first night of Chanukah by lighting Canada's tallest Menorah! The celebration also includes special performers, and free hot cocoa and latkes. Festivities start at 6pm.
You can also bring a unwrapped toy to donate to the Chanukah Toy Drive for the BC Children's Hospital.
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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.
You can drive to Lights at Lafarge, or you can take the new SkyTrain Evergreen Extension; the SkyTrain's last stop is Lafarge Lake-Douglas.