Between aggressive shoppers, awkward office parties and a million replays of Jingle Bell Rock on the radio, the holidays can be kinda stressful. But aside from self-medicating with mulled wine, there are some pretty fun activities in Vancouver that'll help revive your festive spirit. So dust off your most hideous reindeer sweater and get ready to start chugging rummy eggnogs, because it’s about to get all Christmassy up in here.
Get Blinded by the World’s Biggest Light Maze
Where: 1st and Crowe Street, in between the Cambie Street Bridge and Olympic Village
When: 4pm – 10pm, November 25 until New Year’s Eve, 2016
Ever fancied yourself as something of a holiday hero, but never had the chance to prove it? Well, Enchant was basically made for you. In order to save Christmas, you have to find all nine missing reindeer inside the 55,000 square-foot light maze (so no pressure, kids). For those with a soft spot for Christmas classics like the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree in Manhattan, there’s also an illuminated 64-foot tree in the heart of the maze. Kidulting has never been so fun.
Our Tip: Take transit, not a car – Enchant is located right by the Olympic Village SkyTrain station.
Suggested Drinks: Buttered rum, mulled wine, craft beer and eggnog.
Skate Under the Stars on Grouse Mountain
Where: Grouse Mountain (6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver)
When: Times vary, November 25, 2016 - January 2, 2017
To be honest, there’s no better place to enjoy crisp mountain air and panoramic city views than gliding atop the magical 8,000-square-foot skate rink on Grouse Mountain. This peak is worth checking out anytime really, but especially at this time of the year when it's home to Vancouver’s North Pole. Yep, we're talking live reindeer, snow carpet sliding and (even more) festive Christmas lights in the Light Walk. It's all so damn magical it'll be your #throwbackthursday for weeks.
Our Tip: Book dinner in advance at the Observatory Restaurant, which includes the gondola and Christmas attractions for free.
Suggested Drinks: Local BC red wines and craft beers.
Drink Mulled Wine at the Christmas Market
Where: Jack Poole Plaza, 1055 Canada Place
When: 11am – 9pm, November 26 – December 31, 2016
There are many reasons to love Christmas, and mulled wine is a major one. It’s also a necessity if you’re thinking of braving the crowds at the Vancouver Christmas Market. As the closest thing you’ll get to a traditional European Christmas market, it’s a great place to wrap up your shopping list and get in some seasonal social media posts. There are only so many shopping days left until your loved ones find out how little you understand them, so you may as well buy for 'em whilst having fun.
Our Tip: Online ticket purchases include access to the entry Express Lane and a free season pass, so you can go back again and again for a dash of Christmas cheer.
Suggested Drinks: Mulled wine, obviously.
Prep for Christmas Dinner with the Big Elf Run
Where: Lumberman's Arch, Stanley Park
When: 11am, December 18, 2016
Okay, so we haven’t been completely honest with you: not all of these activities involve alcohol. As we all know, calories can add up all too quick during the holidays, but you don't have to sweat it out at your usual spin class to avoid looking like Santa. The Big Elf Run is a pretty fun way to justify all that Christmas gorging, guilt free. The holiday-themed run has various distances to choose from (1km, 5km and 10km), so get off the couch and show Santa what you’re made of (other than too many cookies).
Our Tip: An elf toque is included in your registration package, so if a holiday event should take you by surprise, you’ve always got a green, jingly hat at the ready.
Suggested Drinks: Free hot chocolate and coffee.
Partake in the Yule Duel for Charity
Where: Water Street, Gastown (exact location TBD)
When: December 1, 2016
While waiting for Mariah Carey to come out of hibernation, you can satisfy your inner songstress with some live caroling in the charming streets of Gastown. As the best choirs in the Lower Mainland go head to head in a series of sing-offs, the Yule Duel is one of the most random but genuinely cool things you can experience this winter. This event also has a feel-good factor as all proceeds go to May’s Place, a hospice in Vancouver’s Downtown Eastside. Drinks are not technically included as part of the event, but you’re literally steps away from a bunch of cocktail bars and pubs, so no need to panic.
Our Tip: Follow @YuleDuel on Twitter to find out first where the exact sing-off will take place.
Suggested Drinks: Cocktails at the Pourhouse (try the wintery Bittercup with cranberry juice).
Party at Contact, the Ultimate Winter Music Fest
Where: BC Place
When: 5pm – 12am, December 26 – 27, 2016
Sure, ‘tis the season to Christmas and chill, but sometimes we just want to deck the halls with super loud EDM. Recently named by Amex as one of the top 15 worldwide events this December, Contact is a great way of making the most of our long winter nights. This year, the electronic dance music festival is bringing names such as Flume, Disclosure, Marshmello, Zeds Dead, Baauer and Gareth Emery to BC Place for two days. Ready to get merry AF?
Our Tip: Follow @ContactFestival on Facebook for announcements such as single day line ups.
Suggested Drinks: Beer, beer and probably more beer.
Enjoy Twinkling Lights at Canyon Lights
Where: 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver
When: 11am – 9pm, November 24, 2016 – January 8, 2017
Just can’t get enough of those Christmas lights? If markets, choirs, or skating aren’t your cup of tea (or mulled wine), head over to the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park for the annual Canyon Lights display. This West Coast classic is the ultimate destination for the feels – not only can you conquer your fear of heights, you can also sip hot chocolate and Baileys surrounded by adorable log cabins, twinkling lights and evergreens.
Our Tip: If you’re coming here to see the Canyon Lights, best to arrive after 4pm.
Suggested Drinks: Local craft beer or coffee with Baileys.