Winter in Vancouver, Canada, is a special time of year. Packed with events and activities, winter in Vancouver is the season for skiing and snowboarding, Christmas events, New Year's celebrations, multicultural festivals, and more.
Check out the top 10 best things to do in Vancouver this winter with events and activities for December, January, and February.
Skiing, Snowboarding, and Snowshoeing
When it comes to Vancouver winter activities, nothing is more popular than hitting the slopes. Vancouver is perfectly situated for skiers and snowboarders. There are a handful of top-notch ski and snowboard resorts—including some of the top venues in North America—just a short distance away. Many of the same resorts are ideal for the snowshoeing, too, with trails for every skill level from beginner to expert
Free Ice Skating
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 on Robson Street (just across from the Vancouver Art Gallery in the heart of downtown Vancouver), the Robson Square Ice Rink is usually open from early December until the end of February. Skating is free; skate, helmet, and ice cleat rentals are usually a small fee.
Winter Wonderland on Grouse Mountain
Grouse Mountain, located just 20 minutes north of downtown Vancouver, is a mini epicenter for Vancouver winter activities. Not only can you ski, snowboard, and snowshoe on Grouse Mountain, you can enjoy a winter wonderland of events and activities, including outdoor ice skating, sleigh rides, and December's Peak of Christmas featuring Santa, light displays, and more.
As you can imagine, Christmas in Vancouver does not just happen on December 25, the holiday is celebrated from Thanksgiving until the end of the year. There are free events and holiday attractions. There are artisan markets for shopping. You and your children can meet Santa Claus and have a photo taken with the jolly old elf.
Boxing Day Sales
The biggest shopping event of the year is also one of Vancouver's biggest winter events: Boxing Day. Boxing Day, December 26, is a holiday in Canada best known for being the day when everything in Canada—fashion, electronics, home furnishings, and more—goes on sale.
If you are planning to be in Vancouver for New Year's Eve, then you are heading to the right place. There is something for everyone. Vancouver's New Year's Eve celebrations run the gamut from elegant to hedonistic adult parties with a few celebrations suitable for all ages.
If you have young children, it can sometimes be a little difficult finding something for your children to do that will not be too cold or too rainy. If heading to the bunny slopes or ski school is not an option, you can head indoors for ice skating, indoor climbing, indoor playlands, and more.
Started in 2002 by Tourism Vancouver, Dine Out has become one of the most popular Vancouver winter events. A city-wide culinary event, Dine Out offers discount menus at more than 200 Vancouver restaurants—letting you "taste drive" new cuisine for less, as well as special events around town. The festival brings together hundreds of chefs, wineries, craft breweries, suppliers, and more for 17 days. Set menus range from $15 to $25, $35, or $45 options and are an ideal way to try new restaurants and old favorites.
Winter Calendar of Events and Festivals
When it comes to Vancouver winter events, December, January, and February are chock full of art and cultural festivals, like the annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival, the Whistler Pride and Ski Festival, and the Winterruption Festival on Granville Island. Wrap up warm and head outside to make the most of Vancouver's great outdoors.
One of the best Vancouver seasonal events is the annual Chinese New Year Parade in Vancouver's historic Chinatown. The event is a cultural extravaganza that is one of the city's biggest and best annual parades. The Lunar New Year is not celebrated on the same day every year, it tracks along with the lunisolar calendar, which combines both sun and movements with the earth. The day is usually celebrated in mid-January to late February.