Christmas & Winter Holidays in Vancouver for Kids: Santa Pics, Kids' Shopping, Kids' Attractions & More
Setting aside the stress of finding the perfect toy for your kids, Christmas and the winter holidays can be a lot of fun with young ones: it's true that there sense of joy and wonder at it all is a great antidote to the stress a lot of us feel around the holidays. To celebrate the holidays with your kids, I've put together several resources that will--hopefully--make the season easier and more fun for the whole family:
Holiday Attractions for Kids & Pictures with Santa
- Complete Guide to Christmas & the Winter Holidays for Kids & Families
- Top 5 Vancouver Christmas & Holiday Attractions
- Free Vancouver Christmas & Holiday Events
- Vancouver Christmas & Holiday Light Displays
- Where to Take Pictures with Santa in Vancouver
Shopping for Kids' Presents & Toys
- Best Places to Shop for Kids in Vancouver
- Vancouver's Best Baby Stores
- Vancouver Discount Stores
- Top 5 Vancouver Shopping Malls
- Budget Shopping in Seattle & Bellingham
Family-Friendly New Year's Eve: All Ages New Year's Events in Vancouver
Image Courtesy of VanDusen Botanical Garden
This crazy cold weather is suppose to improve next week, but in the meantime, here are nine unusual / kooky things to do in Vancouver to get out of the cold:
- Jump, flip, do the splits at Richmond's Extreme Air Park, the largest trampoline park in Canada.
- Join an indoor beach volleyball league at 6 Pack Indoor Beach.
- See Star Wars Burlesque(!) at the Rio Theatre on December 14 & 15.
- Cook yourself at the hot pool at the Hillcrest Aquatic Centre.
- Visit the tropics at the Blodel Conservatory.
- Skateboard indoors at The Dry Spot.
- Climb the walls at Cliffhanger Climbing Vancouver.
- Make art at Collage Collage.
- Ice skate indoors, ride a mini train, and more at Christmas at Canada Place.
Of course, there are also more "usual" ways to get indoors, too:
Image Courtesy of Extreme Air Park
Bright Nights at Stanley Park, Festival of Light at VanDusen & VSO's Traditional Christmas Concerts - Weekend Picks
This weekend really kicks off the Vancouver holiday attractions: all five Top 5 Vancouver Christmas Attractions are open, the Best Vancouver Holiday Light Displays are happening, and there are loads of Free Vancouver Holiday Events & Attractions, too.
- Bright Nights at Stanley Park
Stanley Park's Bright Nights is an annual Vancouver holiday tradition where over a million twinkly lights transform the forest around the famous Miniature Train into a winter wonderland. Runs through January 5 (closed December 25).
- VanDusen Botanical Gardens' Festival of Lights
The gorgeous VanDusen Garden turns festive with elaborate light decorations, a Candy Cane Tree, Gingerbread Walk, Santa's workshop, and much more. Runs through January 4 (closed December 25).
- The VSO's Traditional Christmas
One of the city's most beloved holiday musical traditions, the Vancouver Symphony Orchestra presents this concert full of carols and favourite Christmas music. At various venues throughout the Lower Mainland through December 22.
I know I just did a post on free things to do this month / in December, but Robson Square has so much going on that I decided it needed its own post/guide.
While we all take the free ice skating at Robson Square for granted since the rink re-opened in 2009, the city has been steadily increasing the number of free holiday events there. Last year was the first for the Robson Square New Year's Eve Party (Vancouver's only all-ages NYE party, which returns this year), and in 2013 there are even more free holiday events (e.g., "12 Days of Christmas") coming up.
So, here are all the details: 2013 Free Christmas & New Year's Events at Robson Square.
Christmas and the winter holidays are packed with events and activities (check out the Top 5 Vancouver Christmas Attractions here), including lots of free things to do--everything from ice skating to enjoying holiday light displays.
Here are 10 Free Things to Do in Vancouver in December 2013:
- Ice skate in downtown Vancouver at the free Robson Square Ice Rink - ongoing through February 28, 2014
- Ice skate indoors, see Santa, enjoy live entertainment, and much more at the free Christmas at Canada Place - December 1 - 31, 2013
- Watch the Carol Ships Parade of Light for free from the shore - December 1 - 6, 2013
- Enjoy free festivities and live music at the Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony - December 6, 2013
- Take a free horse and carriage ride--and see Santa--at Christmas at Kerrisdale Village - every Saturday in December, 2013
- Check out Vancouver's best neighbourhood holiday decorations at the Trinity Street Christmas Light Festival - December 7 - January 5, 2014
- Sing along with carolers and enjoy live music and entertainment at the 12 Days of Christmas at Robson Square - 6pm - 9pm, December 13 - 24, 2013
- Celebrate the winter solstice--one of the world's oldest traditions--at the annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival - December 21, 2013
- Ice skate indoors at the Free Skate at the Kerrisdale Arena - December 22, 2013
- Ring in the New Year with the free, all-ages New Year's Eve Party in Robson Square - December 31, 2013
Image Courtesy of Amacon
If you've never been to FUSE at the Vancouver Art Gallery, check out my Guide to FUSE at the VAG.
- FUSE at Vancouver Art Gallery: Crowd Studies
FUSE is art, cocktails, music and more at the Vancouver Art Gallery (VAG), adults only, 8pm - 1am. This FUSE is "inspired by artist Kimsooja's work that encourages human interaction, [and] features its largest number of artists and performers to date," including Kimsooja, Douglas Coupland, artist collective Instant Coffee, and more. Happens Friday, December 29.
- Black Friday Sales in Vancouver
Twelve Vancouver BIAs have joined to bring Black Friday sales to many of Vancouver's top local shopping destinations, including Yaletown, Gastown, and Mount Pleasant. So not only is this 'Black Friday', it's also a great way to support local shops. Runs Friday, November 29 - Sunday, December 1.
- Sunday, December 1
Rogers Santa Claus Parade
The Rogers Santa Claus Parade features over 60 marching bands, dance troupes, festive floats and community groups, attracting over 300,000 spectators. Volunteers will also be collecting non-perishable goods for the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society. Happens Sunday, December 1.
Black Friday is the name for the post-U.S. Thanksgiving sales that typically mean huge discounts in the U.S. for the last weekend of November. This year, 12 Vancouver BIAs are teaming up to do a "Black Friday" sales events here in Vancouver, from Friday, November 29 - Sunday, December 1, 2013.
The participating BIAs are hosting Vancouver Black Friday sales at many of Vancouver's best shopping districts, including Gastown, Mount Pleasant (SoMa), Yaletown, Kerrisdale, West 4th Ave, South Granville, and Granville Island.
Find a complete list of Vancouver Black Friday destinations, plus a voucher for free trolley rides between shopping destinations, at the Vancouver Black Friday Facebook page.
(I have to say, this seems like the best of both worlds. In the U.S., there are constant concerns about Black Friday sales encroaching on U.S. Thanksgiving--particularly, workers at places like Walmart who have to work on U.S. Thanksgiving--but here we get to enjoy the sales with no strings attached!)
Photo © Christopher Furlong / Getty Images
Christmas season kicks into high-gear this weekend, with the Rogers Santa Claus Parade on Sunday, December 1. To get the most out of the winter holiday season in Vancouver, use these Guides to Christmas in Vancouver 2013:
Complete Guides to Christmas in Vancouver
Christmas Events & Attractions 2013
- Top 5 Vancouver Christmas Attractions
- FREE Vancouver Christmas & Holiday Events & Attractions
- Christmas Concerts & Special Performances in Vancouver 2013
- Best Holiday Light Displays in Vancouver
Christmas & Holiday Gift & Shopping Guides
- Christmas Shopping in Vancouver: Where to Shop, Unique Gifts, Gift Ideas & More
- Vancouver Christmas & Craft Markets
- Boxing Day - The Year's Biggest Sale Day
Image Courtesy of Rogers Santa Claus Parade
- Get a sneak peak at this year's Christmas season and Christmas attractions this weekend with these three holiday-themed events.
- Vancouver Christmas Market
The Vancouver Christmas Market is an authentic outdoor German Christmas village featuring unique holiday shopping, seasonal music and entertainment, kids activities and traditional food and drinks. Runs Friday, November 22 - Tuesday, December 24.
- Candytown: A Yaletown Holiday Festival
The Yaletown BIA celebrates the winter holidays with this free Christmas festival featuring a gift market, free horse carriage rides, and Santa. Happens Saturday, November 23.
- Grouse Mountain's The Peak of Christmas
Grouse Mountain celebrates the holidays with a month of family fun: live entertainment, real reindeer, breakfasts with Santa, outdoor ice skating, and more. Runs Saturday, November 23 - Tuesday, December 24.
Christmas and the Winter holidays are packed with free things to do, and those free events get their start this weekend with CandyTown: A Yaletown Holiday Festival.
Back for its second year, CandyTown transforms Mainland Street (Yaletown's nightlife/restaurant district) into a winter wonderland, with holiday lights and candy cane decorations, free horse carriage rides, live music, and an "All I Want for Christmas" Gift Market.
Kids can visit with Santa from 1pm - 6pm, while adults can enjoy the CandyTown Cocktail Tour, 6pm - 9pm. You can even buy a Christmas tree there at the Yaletown Rotary Club Xmas Tree Lot.
CandyTown: A Yaletown Holiday Festival runs 12pm - 9pm, this Saturday, November 23.
For all the free, upcoming holiday events: FREE Vancouver Christmas & Holiday Events & Attractions 2013
Image Courtesy of the Yaletown BIA