What to Do and What to Wear in Vancouver in January

What To Expect From the Weather

Vancouver winter skyline
 Daisuke Kishi / Getty Images

Being such a large country, Canada has a wide range of climates and temperatures. One mistake travelers may make is to assume they will encounter the same kind of weather in Vancouver as they would in Toronto or Montreal. 

Vancouver is in British Columbia, which is located in the Pacific Northwest area, and its weather is much like Portland or Seattle. Vancouver has a moderate, oceanside climate that is dry and warm in summer and rainy between October and March.

Precipitation Expectations

Snowfall is rare in winter, but some Vancouver winters have seen a lot of snow. Rain is more the norm. November and December are Vancouver's rainiest months, but January continues to have significant precipitation, especially when compared to Eastern Canada.

Squamish or Whistler, also in British Columbia, are located at much higher elevations and experience less rainfall.

Be prepared for rain on any given day in Vancouver in January, but don't let the rain discourage you— there's plenty to do in Vancouver on a rainy day.

What to Wear and Bring

Once packed with the right gear for the weather, you can indulge in the many events that take place in Vancouver in January. The average temperature for January is 37 degrees. The average high is 41 degrees and the low is 29 degrees.

To keep the cold from permeating your bones, wear warm, waterproof clothing; sweaters, hoodies, and a heavier jacket. It's recommended that you wear a hat, scarf, gloves, boots, closed-toe shoes, and bring an umbrella.

Advantages to Travel to Vancouver in January

The biggest January attraction in Vancouver is that ski season has begun. Check out the slopes at Whistler or Blackcomb.

If snow sports are not your thing, there are museums, markets, theaters, rinks, or indoor play areas for people of all ages to enjoy.

Another advantage to traveling in January is that after the holidays, travel prices are cut drastically.

Travelers are aware that January 1st, New Year's Day, is a national holiday and most everything is closed.

Highlights in January

  • Tourism Vancouver's Dine Out Vancouver—Dine Out Vancouver is a major culinary event that takes place across the city. Participating restaurants will offer special three-course dinner menus to allow visitors to sample the best of local cuisine without breaking the bank. 
  • PuSh International Performing Arts Festival—Held January through February, the PuSh International Performing Arts Festival features contemporary work that is visionary, genre-bending, and original. 
  • Vancouver TheatreSports—Vancouver TheatreSports League is an internationally renowned improv comedy company located at The Improv Centre on Granville Island in Vancouver. The comedy troupe features the "Massacre" annual festival in January and February.
  • Chinese New Year Festival and Chinese New Year parade— Held on the first Sunday of the Chinese Lunar New Year in Vancouver's Chinatown. The festival is celebrated at the Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Classical Chinese Garden.
  • Join a Vancouver Photowalk, which takes place every Monday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at Canada Place. Professional photographer guides you through taking photos of some of the city's most famous landmarks and vistas. 

Other Winter Months in Vancouver

There are plenty of things to see and do throughout all the winter months. Kicking off the season, in December, there are tons of holiday activities. In February, ski season is in full swing. Valentines Day and other festivals, celebrating hot chocolate, Aboriginal art and Jewish art also take place in February.