The following article was written by John Lee of  


Vancouver is gearing up for a cracker of a Christmas season with dozens of events, shows and attractions aimed at those with a yearning for Yuletide fun. 

But if you’re not sure where to go this year, Santa-hugging new website has the lowdown on what to do in and around the city.

Created by Lonely Planet writer John Lee and his turkey-loving cat Max (the site’s gift review correspondent), here are some tinsel-covered recommendations for the just-around-the-corner festive season.


Vancouver Santa Claus Parade

There’s no better way to fire-up your Christmas spirit than this annual cavalcade of seasonal cheer, which winds around city streets on December 3. Join 300,000 festive fans and 60 or so floats, dance troupes and marching bands (plus those cute miniature horses) before the great man himself appears to make you feel like a kid again.

After the parade, visit the gingerbread houses at the Hyatt Regency, Festival of Trees at the Four Seasons and the vintage Woodward’s Christmas windows at Canada Place.


Bright Nights in Stanley Park

Twenty years old in 2017, this magical family-friendly tradition combines a walk-through winter wonderland of three million festive lights with a shimmering Christmas-themed miniature train ride – complete with live performers en route.

Donations for the BC Professional Fire Fighters' Burn Fund are highly encouraged – they’ve raised $1.4 million here over the years – while tickets for the train cost from $6 to $12. Book ahead for your trundle: it’s one the city’s favourite Yuletide happenings.

Need additional sparkle? Add a visit to the ever-twinkling displays at VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights.


Eastside Flea Holiday Markets  

Vancouver has more festive markets than you can shake a candy cane at, including the crafty Make It! Holiday Show and the German-flavoured Vancouver Christmas Market at Jack Poole Plaza (don’t miss the warming glühwein).

But if you’re gift shopping for the hipster in your life, head to Main Street’s Eastside Flea Holiday Markets where vintage T-shirts, upcycled knickknacks and tasty treats are served up at dozens of stalls. The market runs every weekend from November 17 to December 17.

Craving more fun? Add Gastown’s December 7 Yule Duel to your festive day out. It’s a toe-tapping alfresco carol-singing contest ringing with seasonal charm.


The Day Before Christmas

The Arts Club Theatre Company is staging Onegin and Beauty & the Beast this season, but The Day Before Christmas at the BMO Theatre Centre could turn out to be its biggest festive hit. Book early (it’s a small theatre) for this funny, touching and cleverly high-tech show that tells the story of a perfectionist mother who loses control of her Christmas plans.

Hungry for more? An alternative spin on Snow White & the Seven Dwarves is this year’s East Van Panto at the York Theatre on Commercial Drive, while Granville Island’s Carousel Theatre is staging the ever-charming The Lion, the Witch & the Wardrobe.

Visit for dozens more suggestions for what to do in and around the city this festive season – as well as giveaways, Yuletide stories and Max’s insightful gift reviews. You can also follow the team on Twitter via @MyVanChristmas.