From markets and pop-ups to skating and lit-up trains, there's something for everyone.
Last year, many Canadians weren't able to celebrate the holidays with loved ones. But this time around, you can finally spend some quality time with your nearest and dearest.
The season of giving can leave wallets feeling a little lighter — all the presents and outings can add up. But there are actually so many free and low-cost holiday activities right here in Vancouver, so you can get together with your people while making the most of your money and staying in control of your spending.
Here are seven activities that'll let you spend more time enjoying the magic of the moment and less time sweating the cost.
Get Swept Away By The Festive Lights Downtown
Address: Robson St., Vancouver, BC
Why You Need To Go: There's something enchanting about Robson Street on a winter evening. Take a stroll and window shop as you wander through the sparkling lights, then warm up with drinks and appies on the rooftop patio at Joe Fortes.
There are a couple of not-to-be-missed attractions along the way: the snowflake installation at Bute Robson Plaza and the annual light display at St. Paul's Hospital, featuring over 100,000 colourful bulbs.
Skate To Your Heart's Content At Robson Square
Address: 800 Robson St., Vancouver, BC
Why You Need To Go: Not far from St. Paul's — and home to a 76-foot tall Christmas tree — is Robson Square. Grab your skates and your favourite person and plan a visit to the rink on one of the open dates in December.
Afterwards, head on over to Faubourg and warm up with a cup of hot cocoa.
Support Women-Owned Brands At Gastown's Holiday Pop-Up
Address: 348 Water St., Vancouver, BC
Why You Need To Go: Grab your pals and support some local women-owned brands in the heart of Gastown at this pop-up event from December 3-5. Whether you're looking for clothing, jewelry, skincare or home decor items, there's something for everyone on your list (including yourself).
Pro tip: If you're shopping with someone you want to buy for, your debit card's contactless feature makes it easy to sneakily purchase gifts.
Experience An Old-World Shopping Tradition At The Vancouver Christmas Market
Price: Admission from $7.99
Address: Jack Poole Plaza, 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver, BC
Why You Need To Go: The Vancouver Christmas Market follows a centuries-old German tradition of Christmas markets (or "Christkindlmarkts").
Scope out stocking stuffers for family and friends, chow down on delicious bites, sip some mulled wine and check out the walk-in Christmas tree. There's also a free HolidayLife carousel for the kids — or the kids at heart — but you’re encouraged to make a donation to Make-A-Wish Canada using Interac Debit contactless payments.
Immerse Yourself In The Magic Of Stanley Park Bright Nights
Price: By donation to wander the grounds; train rides start at $7.50
Address: Stanley Park, 690 Pipeline Rd., Vancouver, BC
Why You Need To Go: Round up the whole family or grab your pals to enjoy a winter wonderland of bright, festive lights in Vancouver's beloved Stanley Park. Take in some Christmas carols and hop aboard the nostalgic train on a journey through the illuminated rainforest.
If the train isn't your thing, feel free to wander around the plaza, then pop by Teahouse for a nightcap in the park.
Step Back In Time At Tinseltown Bar
Price: $17 per person
Address: 904 Granville St., Vancouver, BC
Why You Need To Go: Downtown Vancouver's retro Tinseltown pop-up bar has pulled out all the stops with trees, lights, baubles, ornaments, bows and ribbons — it looks like a Hallmark movie set.
Book your ticket for a 90-minute time slot in the bar (the price includes a tasty holiday drink). Don't forget to flex your ugliest holiday sweater for an Insta-worthy photoshoot.
If you're going with a group, use Interac e-Transfer to reimburse the MVP who bought your ticket.
Join The Yaletown Holiday Festivities At Candytown
Address: 1100 Mainland St., Vancouver, BC
Why You Need To Go: In the heart of Yaletown, you'll find lights aglow and candy canes aplenty at this free event. You'll know you're in the right place when you hear live music and carolling — or if you see stilt walkers and costumed characters roaming about.
Pick up some gifts and treats from local merchants at the specialty market, and fuel up at one of the many food trucks. If you come across a small business that doesn't accept cash or contactless payment, you can settle up quickly with Interac e-Transfer.
End the day with a self-guided cocktail tour, stopping at venues like WestOak for some holiday cheer.
This year, Vancouverites can finally get back to their cherished traditions (or start some new ones) with those who mean the most.
Remember, this season doesn't have to be financially straining. Have your figgy pudding and eat it too — Interac can help you stay in control of your money.
By paying for your holiday expenses with Interac, you'll know exactly what you've spent and what you have left. It's easy and fast to tap your card or use your phone to pay on the go (not to mention, it's a great way to buy gifts for your shopping companions).
Plus, Interac e-Transfers are an easy way to receive and send money for group gifts and activities.
Canadians have been waiting to reconnect with their loved ones for so long. Go on and make the most of it: gather up your nearest and dearest for some festive quality time that won't break the bank.
To learn more about Interac, visit their website and check them out on Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Instagram.
For more stories about getting together this holiday season, check out the Interac hub here.
In B.C., a vaccine passport is required to access some events, services and businesses, including restaurants and bars.