There are tons of festive events happening this time of year, but the cost of entry, food and activities can add up – especially if you’ve been busy buying gifts for your loved ones (if that’s the case, see our tips on how to stop buying so many gifts). Luckily our naughty and nice records show that you’ve been pretty good this year, so here’s a list of free and cheap holiday events happening in Metro Vancouver for you to enjoy.
November 24 to January 4, 2018, hours vary
A stroll through the village will have you feeling like you’ve been transported to the North Pole (or a scene from Gilmore Girls) with the Village’s charming, small town feel. Free admission includes musicians, theatre performances, crafts and baking. Visitors can even create their own holiday show with lights that change colour to the sound of the band.
Saturday, December 6, 2018 from 6 to 8 pm
Bring the family down to the Willingdon Community Centre for a night of live music, arts and crafts, games, and festive flicks. You can also count on Santa making a guest appearance, so don’t forget your camera! Admission is $2 per ticket for all ages and registration is required.
Various times/days from Friday, November 30 to Tuesday, January 1, 2018
Celebrate the holidays with the family at 8 Rinks – a skating rink turned dazzling Winterfest – featuring twinkling lights, holiday tunes and hot chocolate. Admission is $7 for teens and adults over 16, $4 for children ages 3 to 15, and $4 for seniors. Skating is included in admission – bring your skates or rent them for $4.
Saturday, November 24 to Sunday, January 20, 2018 from dusk until 11 pm
If thousands of bright twinkling lights give you a case of the warm fuzzies, then the Lights at Lafarge Lake are calling your name. Take a stroll along the water’s edge to view spectacular light installations, flowers made of recycled material and whimsical creatures peeking out from the trees. Think Alice in Wonderland meets The Nutcracker – sounds pretty intriguing, right? Oh, and it’s also free.
Sunday, December 9, 2018 from 2 to 5 pm
This free event at Place des Arts is a celebration of cultural diversity, allowing attendees to learn how different cultural traditions and customs overlap over the holiday season. Hear inspiring stories over a warm cup of tea and learn how to make beautiful lanterns inspired by different cultural groups that populate Coquitlam.
Saturday, December 1, 2018 from 9 to 11 am and 4 to 7:30 pm
This event captures the magic of Christmas, featuring live entertainment, letters to Santa, a parade, tree lighting and caroling. Breakfast with Santa will be held from 9am to 11am and registration costs $10 per person (children under 3 are free). All other events and activities during the afternoon are free.
December 21 to 23 and 27 to 30, 2018 from 10 am to 5 pm
Hear stories by the fire, taste a chestnut roasted over the fire and take a guided tour. Admire the charming holiday ambiance and take family snapshots at various scenic spots on site. Regular admission fees apply: $7.80 per adult, $6.55 per senior and free for youth under 17.
Saturday, December 1, 2018 from 4 to 8 pm
Get into the holiday spirit at Christmas in the Park, a free event held at Memorial Park in Maple Ridge. The event will include all the classic holiday tunes, a visit and photo with Santa, and complimentary beverages (pro tip: bring your own reusable mug to save waste!). It will be followed by the Santa Claus Parade through downtown Maple Ridge.
Monday, December 17, 2018 from 7:30 to 8:15 pm
CP rail cars are decorated for the holidays, touring across Canada to raise food and cash for local food banks. A free event will take place across from the Billy Miner Pub, with a concert featuring Sam Roberts Band, Kelly Prescott and Tracey Brown.
Friday, November 30 to Monday, December 31, 2018 from 5 to 9 pm
The Hi-Light Festival at Park & Tilford Shops and Gardens is open to everyone by donation with proceeds benefiting the North Vancouver firefighters. Enjoy an evening of live entertainment, bright lights and hot chocolate. You can even snap a selfie with Mr. Claus himself!
Friday, December 1, 2018 from 4 to 7 pm
Make your way to the North Vancouver Shipyards to see them transformed into a beautiful winter wonderland full of twinkling lights and music. Bring the family and enjoy free activities like lantern making, gingerbread decorating and face painting. We even heard the Mayor will be stopping by to light the City’s Christmas tree at 4 pm!
Tuesday, December 4, 2018 from 5 to 6 pm
Attend the free Menorah lighting ceremony at the Lonsdale Quay Market (outside of the South Plaza), which will include music and refreshments.
Friday, December 7, 2018 from 5 to 8pm
Jingle bell rock your way down to the Pitt Meadows Family Recreation Centre for an evening of free, family-friendly fun. You can expect to see a magical tree lighting ceremony, entertainment and jolly ol’ Saint Nick.
Monday, December 17, 2018 from 8:45 to 9:30 pm
CP rail cars are decorated for the holidays, touring across Canada to raise food and cash for local food banks. A free event will take place at the corner of Harris Road and Advent Road (at the railway crossing), with a concert featuring Sam Roberts Band, Kelly Prescott and Tracey Brown.
Tuesday, December 18, 2018 from 7 to 7:45 pm
CP rail cars are decorated for the holidays, touring across Canada to raise food and cash for local food banks. A free event will take place at the Port Coquitlam West Coast Express station, with a concert featuring Sam Roberts Band, Kelly Prescott, Tracey Brown and Tyson Venegas.
Tuesday, December 18, 2018 from 5:20 to 6:15 pm
CP rail cars are decorated for the holidays, touring across Canada to raise food and cash for local food banks. A free event will take place at 300 Ioco Road (behind arena and rec centre), with a concert featuring Sam Roberts Band, Kelly Prescott, Tracey Brown and Tyson Venegas.
Saturday, December 1, 8 and 15, 2018 from 4 to 6 pm
Enjoy free, family-friendly holiday event featuring local musicians, Girl Guides carolling in period costumes, children’s crafts, hot beverages, local vendors and more.
Sunday, December 2, 2018 from 1 to 4 pm
Come to Steveston Village to see Santa arriving at the Fisherman’s Wharf in style, aka – on a whale-watching boat! Bring your camera and take a photo with Santa inside the Gulf of Georgia Cannery 2 to 4 pm. This free event will also include a farmers’ market and a festival of trees.
Sunday, December 2, 2018 from 2 to 4 pm
Celebrate the first night of Chanukah at the 30th lighting of the beautiful 25-foot high steel Menorah designed by the late Arthur Erickson and fabricated by Ebco Industries Ltd. It will be lit on the plaza in front of the Richmond Public Library. This free event includes entertainment for kids starting at 2 pm, followed by the lighting at 3 pm. There will be food, including Chanukah gelt, latkes and donuts.
Friday, December 7, 2018 from 5:30 to 7:30 pm
Looking for something festive that you can do in your pajamas? Grab your favourite blanket and make your way to the Chuck Bailey Recreation Centre for some free family-friendly activities and a holiday movie. Light snacks and refreshments will be provided.
Saturday, December 8 to Sunday, December 16, 2018 from 10 am to 7 pm
The Gingerbread Village presented by the Surrey BIA is back again this year to encourage some creative fun while raising money for the Surrey Christmas Bureau. Entries for the gingerbread house contest will be displayed at the event and everyone who visits can vote for their favourite entry with a cash donation.
Sunday, December 9, 2018 from 6:15 to 9:15 pm
Help illuminate the world at the public Menorah lighting at Semiahmoo Shopping Centre. The event will include music, a game show, delicious donuts, prizes and more.
Friday, December 21 to Sunday, January 6, hours vary
Experience a winter wonderland at Cloverdale Arena and skate across the old-fashioned pond. Admission is $4.50, plus skate rentals are available for $3.25.
Wednesday, November 21 to Monday, December 24, 2018 from 11:30 am to 9:30 pm
The Christmas Market located at Jack Poole Plaza has just about all the holiday staples you’d expect, and more – from mulled wine and hot chocolate to cheesy raclette and carousel rides. We recommend buying your tickets online to save a few bucks if you’re bringing the family. Online admission is $10 for adults, $5 for children ages 7 to 12 and kids under 7 can attend for free. There’s usually a Groupon available for discounted admission as well.
Thursday, November 29 to Saturday, January 5, 2018 from 10 am to 11 pm
If you’re a fan of The Polar Express, you’ll have to add a ride on the Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park to your list of to-do’s. A portion of ticket sales go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, so it’s a feel-good event for the whole family! The matinee train takes you through a forest of magical holiday displays and costs only $6 per ticket, making it a great option for families. The night train costs $12 for adults ages 19 and above, $9 for youth ages 13 to 18, and $8 for children 12 to 3 (children under 2 years old are free). You can also just check out the amazing light displays with a donation at the front gate.
Friday, November 30, 2018 from 6 to 7 pm
The Vancouver Christmas Tree Lighting Celebration is a sure-fire way to warm your heart for the holidays. Watch four giant trees (one of which is taller than the Rockefeller Centre Christmas tree in New York!) get lit up for the holidays at Robson Square. This free family-friendly event will include live entertainment, delicious refreshments and Santa and his elves of course.
Friday, November 30 to Friday, December 28, 2018
Head over to the Hyatt Regency Hotel to wander through a maze of magical gingerbread creations. The exhibit is free and donations go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation.
Saturday, December 1 to Thursday, February 28, 2018 from 9 am to 9 pm (open until 11 pm on Friday and Saturday)
The holiday season just isn’t complete without a visit to an outdoor skating rink. Come enjoy a night at Robson Square for a fun evening that will kick start your festive mood. The best part? You skate for free if you bring your own skates! Don’t worry – if you don’t have skates, you can rent them for only $5 (it’s cash only, so make sure to hit a Vancity ATM on your way down).
Sunday, December 2, 2018 from 11 am to 12:30 pm
Eat some treats, make a dreidel, light the menorah, sing songs and listen to the story of Hanukkah. Hanukkah is the Jewish eight-day, wintertime “festival of lights,” celebrated with a nightly menorah lighting, special prayers and fried foods. Cost is $2 per person and kids 2 years and under are free. Pre-registration required.
Thursday, December 6, 2018 from 5 to 6:30 pm
Celebrate the spirit of Chanukah by watching the lighting of Canada’s tallest candelabra (Menorah) at the Vancouver Art Gallery. The free event includes live music and refreshments. There will be an incredible fire performance by Lukas Knab of AcroFire Entertainment from 5 to 5:30 pm. There are also Menorah lighting events happening at Oakridge Mall (December 2) and UBC (December 3).
Thursday, December 6, 2018 from 6 to 9 pm
The annual Yule Duel held in the heart of Gastown is probably one of the most festive events on this list. Twenty choirs from around Vancouver join together to sing for charity while being judged by a panel of guest judges and the crowd. The event is free to attend, but all donations during the event benefit May’s Place hospice.
Friday, December 7, 2018 to Thursday, January 3, 2019
Bring your coziest winter scarf and grab a hot chocolate to keep you warm while you check out this free outdoor event. You can enjoy the nostalgic tradition of Woodward’s Windows, see the vibrant Sails of Light and wander down the festive Avenue of Christmas Trees. Maybe you’ll leave with an epic story that will rival our favourite elf Buddy’s tale of passing through the candy cane forest, through the sea of swirly-twirly gum drops…
Tuesday, December 25, 2018 from 3 to 5 pm
Heads down to the Hillcrest Ice Rink on December 25 for the 8th annual Chanukah on Ice event. Enjoy donuts, dreidels, gelt and Chanukah music. You can even skate with Batman and Superman! Admission and skate rental are $5 each.
December 1, 8, 15 and 22, 2018 from noon to dusk
What could possibly be cooler than a Christmas festival at the beach? Enjoy one (or all) of the four free concerts happening at the Dundarave Festival of Lights at Dundarave Beach. You can also enjoy the Nativity Pavilion, wander around the magical Forest of Miracles, decorate the festival’s Christmas tree, and shop at the Christmas Fair.
There are affordable Breakfast with Santa events happening throughout Metro Vancouver. Check out this listing.
There are many holiday enthusiasts throughout the Metro Vancouver who have turned their humble abode into a winter wonderland. Check out who has gone all out with a display of lights in your neighbourhood and plan a walk with friends and family.