Vancouver has some seriously amazing winter light displays over the Christmas period that continue well into the New year. This post will share some of the pretty festive lights we visited this winter. There are plenty of other festive light options, so if this whets your appetite for pretty twinkly lights, I’ll include more possibilities at the end of this post.
The Christmas-related light displays tend to light up Vancouver from November to January, but a couple of them (like the Grouse Light Walk and Lights to the Lodge on Cypress Mountain) continue through February.
Light displays – perks of visiting Vancouver in winter
I LOVE it when friends and family come to visit us. I normally encourage people to visit in the summertime as the weather is so blooming gorgeous and it means I’ll be able to take them hiking. However depending on schedules it is often easier (and cheaper) for people to visit in the wintertime. If you are planning a trip to Vancouver during the winter, it is likely to rain. However you’ll be able to see some fantastic winter light displays, and if it snows, you’ll get to see a beautiful side of the city that most tourists miss out on.
Vancouver Christmas Market
Dates: Nov 20 – Dec 24 (11:30am – 9:30pm)
Location: Jack Poole Plaza, Vancouver
Cost: $13 (online) $15 (at the door)
Tip: It’s best to book online, so you receive a free season’s pass along with your admission. We booked online while standing in the queue. That way, if you want to go back, it’ll be free.
This isn’t just lights! For the last 10 years Vancouver has had a small Christmas market with food, drinks, rides and stalls where you can buy Christmas decorations and gifts. This year there was even a giant Christmas tree that you could go inside.
Vancouver Christmas Market mulled wine
We tried the traditional Glühwein (spiced mulled wine) as well Feuerzangenbowle (which also contained rum infused sugar). I found it difficult to pronouce, but I loved the taste of the feuerzangenbowle.
There were quite a few (amazing smelling) food options. We tried the bratwurst as well as some churros covered in chocolate.
Even the Olympic torch was lit up and looking festive.
Vancouver City lit up
Dates: The city is lit up at night all year ’round. It’s just extra festive from November to Janurary
Location: Anywhere your legs will take you
Canada Place lights
After you have explored the Vancouver Christmas market, you should take a wander and see how Vancouver lights up it’s harbour at Canada Place. I loved looking over to the North Shore to see the city sparkle across the water.
This is the area where cruise ships dock in Vancouver so it can get quite crowded in the daytime. However in the evening in December it was completely deserted. We actually loved how empty it was after the crowds of the Christmas Market.
False Creek Lights
I mentioned that it can get quite soggy here in the wintertime. Well, on the beautiful days when we’re not being drenched, we like to take detours to walk home. On this occasion we walked via False Creek. Quite a few of the moored boats had decorated their masts with lights, so it made the whole area look festive.
This is the view of Vancouver lit up, looking South to the opposite side of False Creek.
If you keep walking by the water you’ll reach Yale Town. It is always lit up beautifully at night. It’s just the addition of people’s Christmas lights make the area even more bright and colourful.
Vancouver’s homely Christmas lights
If you visit Vancouver around Christmastime, it is worth exploring the back streets and local neighbourhoods. We found so many houses lit up with fantastic Christmas lights. These may not be official, but they are really fun to find.
Capilano Suspension Bridge – Canyon Lights
Dates: Nov 22 – Jan 26 (11am – 9pm)
Location: The Capilano Suspension Bridge, 3735 Capilano Rd
Cost: $53.95 for adults
Tip: We visited in the daytime to see the views, then received a stamp on our hands so we could return later to see the lights. If you live in BC, you can get a season’s pass for free as you leave, so you can come back.
This is one of the priciest sights in Vancouver. I do really love the whole park, but it is always a bit of a shock to see the ticket prices. On this occasion, there was so much snow that they had closed the tree-top walks and cliff walk. This meant it was 50% off.
Still, if you have not seen them, the Canyon lights at Capilano Suspension bridge are fantastic. Click here if you’d like to see what Capilano Suspension Bridge looks like in the daytime.
Isn’t it pretty?
I love the way they light up the giant trees from below, and have lights dance over the canyon floor to music.
We found the park was also far less busy than it had been during the day. Although, maybe that is just because it was such a cold, snow-covered evening? This is an expensive light show, but I am glad that I got to show it to my sister.
Grouse Mountain Light Walk
I have written about this before, but visiting Grouse Mountain in the snow is a great adventure for anyone visiting Vancouver in the wintertime (or even in the spring.)
Dates: Nov – at least March (I can’t find the date when they remove the lights, it might be later)
Location: Grouse Mountain
Cost: $59 (for the ride up the Gondola)
There is no cost for the light walk, but if the snow is fresh, you may want to hire snowshoes. We just walked around in our hiking boots.
If you want to visit for free: If the trail is open, (and you are prepared with spikes + the ten essentials,) you could hike up and down the BCMC trail. You’ll gain
Tip: If you visit on a weeknight in the evening, the light walk is likely to be totally empty.
The light walk is a short walk (about 500m long) through the lit-up firs trees on Grouse mountain. There is not much elevation gain or loss, so it is easy, pretty and fun. Plus once you get back to the lodge, there are cafes and restaurants where you can warm up and grab a drink.
The Most Canadian lights in Vancouver
While my sister Rosy visited Vancouver, we went to see a Hockey Game, the Canuks vs the Arizona Coyotes. The lights within the Roger’s Arena were pretty impressive, and at one point it went super Canadian!
After the Hockey game we wandered along False Creek and were treated to some gorgeous lights, that lit up Vancouver’s snow. This is why I like walking around Vancouver in the evening – it was so pretty.
Other Vancouver winter light displays
I only mentioned a few places to see pretty lights in Vancouver. So, here is a round up of other Festive Lights in Vancouver:
- The Bright Nights Christmas Train in Stanley Park– ride a train to see Stanley Park sparkle (December) If you don’t ride the train, entry is by donation.
- There is normally a giant Christmas tree on Robson Square
- Aurora Winter Festival – a Hastings Park (PNE) has lights, music and even rides in this huge North-Pole inspired event.
- Van Dusen Festival of Lights – The beautiful garden on Oak Street is lit up
- Lights to the Lodge This is an easy 1km snowshoe track through LED-lit old growth forest on the Nordic area of Cypress Mountain. Tickets are available until the end of February.
- Lights at Lafarge is a giant free outdoor light display in Coquitlam (December – mid January)
If you like the look of these light displays, please click on the images below to pin them.