January in Vancouver: Weather, What to Pack, and What to See

Weather and Event Guide

Vancouver, BC in the winter

Harry Traeger/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.

Vancouverites embrace the rain and it's a big part of the city's identity - you'll sometimes hear locals refer to it lovingly as 'Raincouver' and even though everyone likes to complain about the weather, January is still a fun time to visit Vancouver. Here's everything you need to know about what to pack and what to expect in Vancouver in January.

Gas Town, Vancouver
 Stanley Chen Xi, landscape and architecture photographer/Getty Images

Vancouver Weather in January

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 (an average of 140 mm), 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.

If you're looking for snow then the city's nearby North Shore (Cypress, Seymour, Grouse) mountains are all sprinkled in snow during this time of year... if it's raining in the city then you can head up to a higher elevation to experience a winter wonderland instead.

What to Pack

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.

Vancouverites are notoriously 'comfortable' dressers so you won't look out of place in gumboots, and casual clothes are acceptable even in fine dining establishments, so layer up and keep warm and dry!

44th Vancouver Chinatown Spring Festival Parade
Andrew Chin /Getty Images

January Events in Vancouver

One of the biggest January attractions in Vancouver is that ski season has begun. Check out the slopes at Cypress, Grouse, Seymour or further afield 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 should be aware that January 1st, New Year's Day, is a national holiday and almost everything is closed.

  • 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. 

Travel Tips

Outside of the New Year period, Vancouver hotels are cheaper in January and they offer combined Dine Out restaurant and accommodation packages around the time of the festival. You won't be hitting the beach this time of year but it's the perfect time to hit up a new bar or sample some of the city's cuisine for a bargain price.