Story by Michelle Hopkins
VANCOUVER, BRITISH COLUMBIA — Christmas is much more magical and enchanting when you visit the best holiday attractions in the city you’re in. Whether you’re a Vancouverite or a visitor to the west coast, you won’t be disappointed with the number of celebrations happening in and around town. Vacay.ca rounded up some of Vancouver’s top family-friendly activities and attractions.
1. Capilano Suspension Bridge Park features a unique west-coast holiday tradition. Light Up The Night is a family event for many. Marvel at the world’s largest living Christmas tree and enjoy spectacular light displays as the entire park — including the suspension bridge, Treetops Adventure and Cliffwalk — becomes an extravaganza featuring thousands of lights. Warm up in the comfort of the new Winter Pavilion. Family activities include scavenger hunts, gingerbread cookie decorating, sing-a-long carols and much more. Open until January 3, 2015 (closed Christmas Day).
2. The 30th anniversary VanDusen Festival of Lights is another family favourite. More than one million lights light up the park. Stroll with friends and family through delightful themed areas and enjoy the Dancing Lights show on Livingstone Lake, the gnome performance, and the shadow puppet show. Have photos taken with Santa, savour holiday treats, and delight in much more. Open until January 4, 2015 (closed Christmas Day).
3. Grouse Mountain’s popular Peak of Christmas has transformed the mountain into a winter wonderland this holiday season. Visit Santa’s Workshop and have your photo with St. Nick. Other highlights include live reindeer viewing, outdoor ice skating, mountain-top sleigh rides and Christmas choir performances. You can even have breakfast with Santa on select days. Visit the Theatre in the Sky to enjoy classic Christmas movies, listen to joyful Christmas carols or walk through the spectacular Gingerbread Village in the Spirit Gallery. Open until December 24.
4. The 17th annual Bright Nights in Stanley Park features a train ride that’s full of dizzying fun. You’ll wind through Santa’s workshop and garage, see Grinch Mountain, enjoy a whimsical display of Disney characters, including 101 Dalmatians, witness two Nativity scenes and be treated to so much more. A parade of trees leads to Santa’s House and for a small donation kids can get their photo taken with him.
It’s a holiday tradition that attracts well over 200,000 people. Bright Nights at Stanley Park runs until January 4, 2015 (closed Christmas Day).
5. Free skating at Robson Square Ice Rink is your chance to start a family tradition. Lace up your skates and enjoy skating in the heart of downtown Vancouver. There’s a light show and live music during the 12 Days of Christmas, happening from December 13-24. Open until February 28, 2015. Skates, ice cleats and helmets can be rented for a nominal fee.
6. For a very merry west-coast holiday activity, check out Luminescence at the Vancouver Aquarium. See the natural bioluminescent lights emitted from some very interesting sea creatures, a Christmas tree powered by electric eels, and the popular “Scuba Claus”.
For a complete listing of holiday activities in the city, visit Tourism Vancouver’s website.