Now that we are into December, we can finally say that the holiday season has begun. Bring on the festive music, Christmas lights, and general holiday cheer. This time of year is great for so many reasons, but the events take the cake. From light displays to holiday markets, there are so many free things to do in B.C. this time of year. To help you make the most of it, we came up with 16 free things to do in B.C. in December.
Wintertime in B.C. is amazing, especially because compared to other provinces, we don’t get too much snow. We're dreaming of a white Christmas this year, but only time will tell if our wishes come true.
If you need to fill your weekends or are looking for fun new date ideas, these December events are ideal. The best part is that you can attend every single one of them for free - all you need to worry about is getting yourself there.
You can treat this roundup like a festive bucket list. If you can’t do them all, do as many as you can. You won’t regret it.
From free light shows where you can get the perfect Instagram to can’t-miss holiday activities, this list has something for everyone.
Christmas at Canada Place
When: Friday, December 6, 2019 - Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Address: Canada Place, 999 Canada Place, Vancouver, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: For the 32nd year in a row, you can hit up Canada Place in Vancouver. This Christmas themed event transforms the waterfront into a magical land filled with lights, music, and of course the iconic “Christmoose.”
Ice Skating at Robson Square
When: Now until Wednesday, February 29, 2020
Address: Robson Square Ice Rink, 800 Robson Street, Vancouver, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: Robson Square in Vancouver has free skating under a glowing dome and it’s seriously gorgeous. Grab your BFF's hand and take in all the stunning Christmas lights without spending a dime.
Lights of Lafarge
When: Multiple dates
Address: Lafarge Lake, Town Centre Park, 1299 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: This light show is totally free. Head to Coquitlam and take in the 2 km light tunnel. It’s Instagram worthy and the perfect free activity for the holidays.
Highstreet Christmas Festival
When: Now until December 14, 2019
Address: Highstreet Shopping Centre, 3122 Mt. Lehman Road, Abbotsford, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: Head down to Abbotsford to check out one of Canada’s largest Christmas trees. There will be displays with over 6,000 multicoloured lights, photo with Santa, holiday pop-up shops, and Christmas gift wrapping.
CP Holiday Train
When: Multiple dates
Address: Multiple cities
Why You Need To Go: The holiday train is adorable and if you haven’t seen it before, this year is your chance. The decked-out train makes its way through dozens of cities across Canada, spreading Christmas cheer to everyone. It’s free to go, but food donations are always welcome.
Lights on the Lake
When: Now until Sunday, January 12, 2020
Address: Harrison Hot Springs, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: This winter festival is all about the Sasquatch. While it may not be like an ordinary festive event, it is definitely a good time. Along with the larger-than-life light displays, there will be a new outdoor ice rink so be sure to bring your skates.
Elves Ski Free
When: Wednesday, December 25, 2019
Address: Mount Washington Alpine Resort, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: Skiing and snowboarding can be expensive. This Christmas, head down to Mount Washington dressed as an elf or a 70s Elvis and ski totally for free. Just be sure to stop by the kiosk for a costume check before you get your ticket.
Winter Solstice Lantern Festival
When: Saturday, December 21, 2019
Address: Granville Island, Vancouver, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: The 26th Annual Winter Solstice Lantern Festival is bringing music, art, dancing, and glowing lanterns to Granville Island. You won’t want to miss the countless homemade lanterns illuminating the night. Lanterns are $25 each but the festival is free to attend.
Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village
When: Now until Friday, December 13, 2019
Address: 6501 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: The outdoor museum in Burnaby comes to life in the wintertime and it’s something you need to see. The historic buildings and old fashioned streets will be lined with lights, music, and all the Christmas spirit you can handle. Be sure to check out the full schedule online before you go.
7th Annual Christmas Tree Festival
When: Now until Saturday, January 4, 2020
Address: 150-2248 McAllister Avenue, Port Coquitlam, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: What better way to celebrate Christmas than by checking out a tree festival? Head to the Port Coquitlam Museum and take in some serious holiday inspiration. You can even vote for your favourite tree.
Hike to a Frosted Waterfall
Address: Wells Gray Provincial Park, 416 Eden Road, Clearwater, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: There are tons of secret winter waterfalls around B.C. but Helmcken Falls stands out. This waterfall has chilly water flowing into what looks like a massive snow volcano and you can go see it for free.
Rutland Night Market
When: Multiple dates
Address: Rutland Centennial Hall, 215 Shepherd Road, Kelowna, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: Kelowna has a wicked night market that rivals the iconic one in Vancouver. Every two weeks, the night market lights up the Rutland area and is filled with tons of cute stuff to look at and buy.
Dog Pictures with Santa
When: Sunday, December 14, 2019
Address: Tisol Arbutus, 2738 Arbutus Street, Vancouver, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: This event is by donation. So while it may not be totally free, it can be as affordable as you want it to be. Photos with Santa are adorable and make for the perfect keepsake.
Candy Cane Lane Rutland
When: Now until Wednesday, January 1, 2020
Address: Rutland, Kelowna, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: Grab your favourite person and hit up Candy Cane Lane in Kelowna. This neighbourhood in the city will be completely transformed into an epic light display that's totally worth walking through. Nearly 70 homes will be participating, so there is a lot to see.
St. Paul’s Hospital Lights of Hope
When: Now until Monday, January 6, 2020
Address: 178 - 1081 Burrard Street, Vancouver, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: This interactive art piece shines so brightly, it illuminates the sky. The display works by donation, so the more donations that are given, the brighter the light shines.
Fireworks at Big White
When: Tuesday, December 31, 2019
Address: Big White, Kelowna, B.C.
Why You Need To Go: This year, Big White is holding two epic New Years' Eve fireworks displays. It’s free to go and it’s a great way to ring in the new year and start 2020 off on a good note.
Be sure to bookmark this page, you'll be using it a lot this December. Happy holidays!