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5 Things to Do in Vancouver BC During the Holidays

5 Things to Do in Vancouver BC During the Holidays

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Are you planning a trip to Vancouver during the holidays? Keep scrolling to check out my top picks for the best things to do in Vancouver BC for Christmas!
This list of things to do in Vancouver for Christmas was written by family travel expert Marcie Cheung and contains affiliate links which means if you purchase something from one of my affiliate links, I may earn a small commission that goes back into maintaining this blog.

Our family has a tradition of heading up to Vancouver, BC, after Christmas each year to take advantage of Boxing Day sales and to celebrate our son’s birthday.

We always see fun holiday-themed Vancouver Christmas activities but never seem to have time to participate.

This year, we decided to add an extra weekend trip at the beginning of December to check them out. Here are our top 5 things to do in Vancouver, BC, for the Holidays.

Things to Do in Vancouver BC: Stanley Park Miniature Railway

I’ve been trying to take my son on the Stanley Park Miniature Railway during the holiday season for the past few years. I had heard from Vancouver locals how much fun it is for families.

This year, we finally made it happen! We did the matinee train because we didn’t have any evenings available on this trip.

3 Things to Do in Vancouver BC during the Holidays featured by top Seattle travel blog, Marcie in Mommyland: Bright Nights at Stanley Park

Quick pose in front of the miniature train at Bright Nights in Stanley Park.

The train ride was a lot of fun! The 14-minute ride was the perfect length for our family. There was so much to see that we could have ridden it again if we had more time.

My husband especially enjoyed seeing The Grinch, and our son loved going through the tunnel at the end.

We also explored the grounds, and my son was thrilled to see Frosty the Snowman, as he’s currently his favorite holiday celebrity. It was really fun to see which characters he recognized and hear him sing Christmas songs while taking it all in.

I could just imagine how amazing it would be at night, and we hope to take the evening train in the near future. Click to read my full review of Bright Nights at Stanley Park.

Things to Do in Vancouver BC: Vancouver Christmas Market

The Vancouver Christmas Market is located on the waterfront next to the Olympic Cauldron. It’s at Jack Poole Plaza beside the Convention Centre, so it’s fairly accessible.

Vancouver Christmas Market carousel

The carousel at the Vancouver Christmas Market may become an annual holiday tradition for us!

We’ve been to the Vancouver Christmas Market a few times, and it’s always a super fun time!

On our last trip, we rode the carousel, sipped mulled wine and spiced cider, ate ham hocks, tried a tornado potato, got hot pretzels, grabbed some gingerbread cookies, and perused the cute shops. It really does feel like something from a movie!

We’ve had a few friends from Germany tell us it’s one of the closest things they have found to an authentic German Christmas Market!

Things to Do in Vancouver BC: The Polar Express Train

Another fun thing to do near Vancouver is the North Pole Express train ride at the Railway Museum of British Columbia up in Squamish, BC (about an hour north of Vancouver.)

3 Things to Do in Vancouver BC during the Holidays featured by top Seattle travel blog, Marcie in Mommyland: The Polar Express train at West Coast Railway Heritage Park in Squamish, BC

My son got a kick out of the train conductor and the way he punched our golden tickets!

We went a few years ago when they had the Polar Express train ride, and our experience there was worth the drive up from Seattle alone. Not only was the event superbly executed, but our family had much more fun than we imagined.

The train ride was a blast and featured lots of elements from the book and movie, including characters and hot chocolate with the yummiest chocolate cookies! The train was maintained beautifully, and it was quite a comfortable ride.

Our kids wore their Christmas season jammies (along with almost all the other families aboard), which made the whole experience even more fun! Click to read my full review of the Polar Express Train.

This year, the theme has changed slightly. You’ll take the train to The North Pole to deliver some much-needed wrapping paper and bows to Marshall P. Bear, the Polar Bear that is the head of Santa’s workshop.

Things to Do in Vancouver BC: Capilano Canyon Lights

If you’re near North Vancouver, the Capilano Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park is a must-do during the holiday season. The bridge and surrounding park are transformed into a winter wonderland with thousands of holiday lights empowering the festive spirit of the season.

The lights turn Capilano Suspension Bridge Park into a winter wonderland! Photo credit: Capilano Suspension Bridge Park

We’ve been there a few times, and I’m always in awe of how beautiful it all is!

The highlight of our last visit to the park was walking across the suspension bridge. Our kids loved seeing all the lights from a different perspective, and we even caught a glimpse of some carolers performing on one of the platforms.

After crossing, we explored Treetops Adventure and walked among lit-up trees above the canyon floor. It was truly magical.

Things to Do in Vancouver BC: Christmas at Canada Place

If you’re headed to downtown Vancouver, Christmas at Canada Place is another festive event to check out.

Image of the Flyover Canada ticket booth in Vancouver. Photo credit Marcie Cheung of Marcie in Mommyland
The Flyover Canada show is pretty fun! Photo credit: Marcie Cheung

We love doing Flyover Canada. They have a special holiday-themed show where elves are superimposed onto their regular Canada show, and then it ends with a visit to the North Pole! It’s super cute!

There’s also Woodward’s Windows, which are animated holiday displays that tell the story of Christmas. Plus, there are giant Christmas trees, Christmas decorations, and a 3D holiday display projected onto the sails of Canada Place.

Christmas in Vancouver BC Wrap-Up

There are also Christmas events and activities throughout the city, including ice skating at Robson Square, holiday markets, and festive light displays. Vancouver definitely knows how to celebrate the holiday season, and you’ll find something fun to do for every member of your family.

Looking for more Vancouver travel content? Find out the best kid-friendly Vancouver hotels, things to do in Squamish, Vancouver hidden gems, and our 4-day Vancouver itinerary!

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    Julia Antoinette

    Sunday 1st of January 2017

    This looked wonderful! How is the Miniature Railways if I'm going without a child?

    Marcie in Mommyland

    Sunday 1st of January 2017

    Julia, you'd definitely have more room without a child! You'd still have a blast looking at all the fun stuff they have stashed along the journey. It's a fun ride!


    Sunday 25th of December 2016

    What a wonderful trip that was... and the carousel looked lovely from the pic you shared. Shame about all the trouble with getting on it...

    Marcie in Mommyland

    Sunday 25th of December 2016

    Thanks! The carousel was gorgeous and so festive!


    Saturday 24th of December 2016

    I used to live in Vancouver (spent about 4,5 years there) so this post is making me feel nostalgic and festive at the same time! :) It's great to see you covered both Stanley Park and Squamish in one day - you managed to do so much! Merry Christmas to your family!

    Marcie in Mommyland

    Sunday 25th of December 2016

    Glad I could remind you of Vancouver! It's one of our favorite cities!

    Wanderlust Vegans

    Saturday 24th of December 2016

    Glad to hear you had a great time in Vancouver. The Christmas market sounds great. The polar express train in Squamish looks great as well. Good Idea to add the time line in the post.

    Marcie in Mommyland

    Saturday 24th of December 2016

    Yes! When traveling with babies/toddlers, I always like to see a timeline so I can adjust my expectations. I learned that on our trip to Disneyland :)

    James Forrest

    Saturday 24th of December 2016

    Awww, this made me feel very festive. Really awesome photos too. Looks like great fun. Merry Christmas!

    Marcie in Mommyland

    Saturday 24th of December 2016

    Thanks, James! It's always fun to see my toddler's face light up when he experiences the festivities!

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