You don't need to spend money to enjoy Christmas in Vancouver. Finding free Christmas and holiday events in Vancouver is easy!
Use this list to find the best free things to do in Vancouver for Christmas and the winter holidays, whether you're looking for family fun, a romantic evening, or the best way to celebrate the season.
Yaletown hosts the newest free Christmas event in Vancouver: a two-day festival on Mainland Street (between Davie and Nelson) that includes a "All I want for Christmas" street market, horse-drawn carriage rides, reindeer, ice skating, and appearances by NHL star Trevor Linden and Santa. (Bring your own camera for pictures with Santa!)
2. Free Ice Skating at Robson Square - November 28, 2012 - February 28, 2013
Since reopening for the Vancouver 2010 Winter Olympics, the free outdoor ice skating at Robson Square has become one of Vancouver's most popular winter activities. Located at 800 Robson Street (just across from the Vancouver Art Gallery in the heart of downtown Vancouver), the Robson Square Ice Rink is open Sunday - Thursday from 9am - 9pm and Fridays & Saturdays from 9am - 11pm. Skating is free; skate rentals are $4, helmets and ice cleats are $2.
One of Vancouver's more unique holiday traditions is the parade of "Carol Ships"--ships decked out with elaborate Christmas lights--that take to Vancouver's waterways for nightly processions. To go aboard the Carol Ships costs money, but it's free to watch the spectacle at any of the shoreside Carol Ship events, including Carol Ship watching and bonfires in North Burnaby and West Vancouver's Dundarave Park.
One of the Top 5 Vancouver Holiday Attractions, the Rogers Santa Claus Parade features over 60 marching bands, dance troupes, festive floats and community groups, attracting over 300,000 spectators along its route through downtown Vancouver.
Every year, the residents of East Vancouver's Trinity Street join together to create one of the best displays of Christmas lights in Vancouver. Houses along Trinity Street go all-out for the holidays with incredible light displays and festive decor, inviting their neighbours (and all of Vancouver) to enjoy a free stroll down the street.
Kerrisdale Village--a picturesque shopping district in the southern Vancouver--celebrates the season with lots of free fun, including free horse and carriage rides (Saturdays only and December 23), live Christmas music in the streets, and a chance to meet Santa and his elves.
Part of Christmas in Kerrisdale, this free afternoon of indoor ice skating at the Kerrisdale Arena runs from 3:45pm - 5:30pm and includes live music.
Take part in one of the world's oldest traditions at this annual event that celebrates the return of the light after the year's shortest day, the Winter Solstice. The Festival includes lantern displays, live musical performances, and events in five Vancouver neighbourhoods, including Yaletown, the Downtown Eastside, Granville Island, and at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Chinese Garden in Chinatown. All Festival events are free, but donations are requested.