Christmas in Vancouver: the Inside Edition
This original 2018 story also appeared on
I’m a huge fan of snow. But since I mostly work from home and don’t usually have to tackle any slush-streaked roads when the weather turns whiteout, I can glue myself to the windows in wonder when all those magical flakes start to fall.
But if your idea of the festive season is to stay undercover as much as possible––perhaps with some hot chocolate––I’ve researched a full range of indoor holiday activities to check out around the area. They’re each detailed on my pop-up Vancouver Christmas Guide website––or you can simply read on for a handy round-up of all the region’s best scarf-free options.
The West End’s beloved Roedde House heritage mansion will be fully gussied up for the Christmas period again this year, its antique-studded rooms decorated in sparkling old-fashioned festive finery. For added Yuletide fun, book ahead for a live music performance––classical on December 9 or jazz on December 13.
An even more famous abode is part of the appeal at FlyOver Canada, located inside Canada Place. The popular simulator ride’s holiday edition takes travellers on a breathtaking big-screen glide across the country––complete with mischievous elves and an eye-popping finale visit to the glittering North Pole residence of Father Christmas himself.
FlyOver isn’t the only local screen worth cozying up to in December, though. Cineplex Odeon International Village is showing Elf, The Polar Express 3D and this year’s The Grinch––voiced by Benedict Cumberbatch. Over at the chain’s Park Theatre in Cambie Village, you can also catch beloved Christmas classic It’s a Wonderful Life. But if you fancy a festive late-nighter, the Rio Theatre is offering a December 21 11pm showing of what has become an alternate Christmas movie favourite in recent years: Die Hard.
If your thermals just aren’t working this season, you don’t have to start searching for flight deals to Hawaii. Instead, thaw yourself out at Vancouver’s very own tropical paradise. Like a balmy version of a walk-in snow globe, climate-controlled Bloedel Conservatory houses palm trees and a multitude of neon-hued birds. But over the Christmas season, Holiday Heights illuminations are added to its verdant foliage. This year, the glittering lights will be flicked on from December 14 to January 6.
Metro Vancouver is also crammed like a cherry-studded Christmas cake with highly inviting festive markets that will shelter you while you shop. Consider these upcoming artisan-stuffed recommendations: the Make It! Holiday Show at the PNE Forum; North Vancouver’s Fall for Local Holiday Market; East Van’s Got Craft? Holiday Edition; and the delightfully quirky––that means bouncy castles and tarot readings––Weirdos Holiday Market, where you can find that special taxidermy item for the stubborn holdout on your gift list.
But if the dates for these events don’t work for you, consider Surrey’s Christmas Store at Potter’s, reputedly the largest holiday shop in Western Canada. It’s crammed with decorations, gifts, lights and a friendly resident cat that wanders around inspecting your purchases with a knowing Yuletide air. Plan ahead and you might even catch sight of Santa himself here.
If you’re still trudging around town trying to finish off your shopping, though, save time for a warming pick-me-up at a local hotel. The Westin Bayshore’s H2 Rotisserie & Bar is now serving a series of special holiday cocktails, including Mint To Be, a velvety concoction of Baileys, peppermint schnapps and hot chocolate that’s topped with whipped cream and served with a candy cane garnish.
Other Vancouver hotels will also be luring locals from the chilly streets. Don’t miss the Hyatt Regency’s Gingerbread Lane display of local-made gingerbread houses. Then dash to the Four Seasons where dozens of cleverly decorated Christmas trees line two lobby floors. Still cold outside? The hotel’s Yew restaurant can keep you cozy with its cognac-spiced Cog Nog, served in super-cool moose mugs.
And the Four Seasons isn’t the only indoor spot to snap selfies with sparkling trees: Steveston’s Gulf of Georgia Cannery National Historic Site also serves-up its Festival of Trees throughout December. It’s not far from the village’s festively decorated Britannia Shipyards National Historic Site, which is also hosting free family-friendly wooden ornament making activities daily until the end of December.
But the best way to immerse yourself in Vancouver’s Yuletide spirit without stepping outside is December 13’s beloved Christmas Wish Breakfast at the Pan Pacific. Bring a new, unwrapped toy to enjoy a buffet breakfast and an event crammed with carol choirs and live TV broadcasts. The huge mountain of gifts helps families in need throughout the Lower Mainland––which makes it the perfect way to warm your heart no matter what the weather is outside.