Ten things to do in Vancouver before the winter’s over

By Carlie Auclair [health bureau chief]

It’s that time of year already. It’s time to pull out all your carefully stored Christmas knick-knacks from the year before and gingerly hang them while eating ginger snaps and listening to Burl Ives. It’s time for mittens and carols; for the Grinch and your mother’s homemade treats. And my favorite part of Christmas is the plethora of fabulous winter themed activities to partake in while you are in Vancouver. Because every year I make it my mission to stuff as much Christmas activity into the holiday break, I have chosen to put together a little top ten list for your reference. Enjoy!

Christmas Lights at Park and Tilford- North Vancouver
This charming garden full of Christmas lights made number 10 because it’s in my old neighborhood and it’s free! It’s rare to find a Christmas activity in Vancouver that doesn’t punch your wallet in the ribs. So grab a hot chocolate and walk through this beautiful display of Christmas lights.

Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge-North Vancouver
This annual holiday tradition features magical lights that sparkle over the canyon, gingerbread decorating, and glass blowing.  Also all proceeds from admission go the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn fund. A good cause while getting in the mood for Santa Claus! (Something about Christmas makes me want to rhyme)

Woodward’s Windows walking tour- Downtown Vancouver

For the first time in 17 years the classic Woodward’s windows will be viewable in the newly-restored Woodward’s building and in five additional locations in Vancouver’s downtown core. This is a fun way to take in some holiday scenery while getting in some disguised exercise.

Van Deusen Garden Festival of Lights- Shaughnessy, Vancouver

The grandiose Van Deusen Gardens is a perfect holiday evening activity to bring your loved ones to. Santa makes an appearance along with his “Scandinavian Christmas elves,” Svend and Jens (ooook!). Not to mention there is a cornucopia of delicious holiday treats like; Thomas Haas hot chocolate, sweet and savory waffles, and fresh mini donuts. For a sweet tooth like me, those are good enough reasons for me to get my butt there!

Festival of Trees at the Four Seasons Hotel- Downtown Vancouver
The festival of trees is a fundraising event for the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation and a regular tradition for many a Vancouverite. Various trees donated by corporate and indivual sponsors showcase their community involvement by dressing up a spruce in the image of their cause. The public can walk around a cast a ballot for their favorite tree. This is one of the more low key Christmas events but if you are down the street having dinner, it might just be the perfect place to wander around and get in the holiday spirit. Admission is by donation, minimum $2.

Ice skating on Grouse Mountain
Guys! If you are looking for a romantic date to take your holiday crush, look no further because you can’t get more romantic than ice skating on top of Vancouver’s most breath-taking peak. Grab your skates and head up the mountain on a gondola. Once you’re there you’ll be making Hans Brinker look like a novice, while hopefully keeping your eye out for the mistletoe (wink wink!).

Bright Nights at the Stanley Park Christmas Train- Stanley Park, Vancouver
It’s not Christmas without one of my favorite places in the world; Stanley Park. Every holiday season the lights are strung and the train is fueled up. Here’s some holiday math for you; what do you get when you add two million twinkling lights+ hot chocolate+ roasted chestnuts+9.00 admission? It equals an evening of unforgettable Christmas fun!

Skiing on Mount Seymour- North Vancouver

If you’ve got a hankering for winter sports then Mount Seymour is the place to do it. With its spectacular view and fairly chill prices, Mount Seymour is one of the best ways to get active in the cold. If you aren’t a fan of skiing or snowboarding then strap on a pair of snowshoes and take the slow and steady scenic route.

The Goh Ballet Academy Canada’s The Nutcracker- Downtown Vancouver
This is my personal favorite activity to partake during Christmas. The timeless tale of the nutcracker is brought to life by the talented and mesmerizing Goh Ballet Academy. Tickets range in the 100 dollar area, but for an enchanting evening of culture and Christmas whimsy, The Nutcracker can’t be beat.

The Vancouver Christmas Market- Downtown Vancouver
For the first time ever in Vancouver, we now have a German Christmas market. And nobody does Christmas like the Germans. With over 30 traditional wooden booths consisting of ornaments, jewelry, gifts and more, this is bound to be the start of a Vancouver tradition. Lets not forget the spectacular German fare consisting of German Bratwurst, suckling pig traditional Christmas cookies, roasted chestnuts and spiced Christmas Cake (Stollen). Just make sure to spruce up on your German so you can wish everyone a “Frohe Weihnachten!”


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