1. Enchant Christmas Light Maze
New to Vancouver just in time for the holiday season of 2016, is Enchant, the world’s largest light maze. This maze is sure to be a magical experience, as it will be a first-time experience for all those who attend this year. The Enchant Maze is open Wednesday to Sunday from 4:00pm to 10:00pm, until January 31st, and is closed on December 25th. To ensure you get to see this light filled event first-hand, purchasing tickets on-line is recommended.
2. The Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain
Throughout the month of December and up to January 2nd, 2017, The Peak of Christmas at Grouse Mountain offers Christmas inspired activities for the entire family to enjoy, including: sleigh rides; an 8000 square foot outdoor ice skating pond; elf headquarters to create Christmas crafts and write letters to Santa; gingerbread house displays; holiday season movies in the Theatre in the Sky; Christmas Trees, visits with Santa Clause and reindeer and; other festive activities and events. These activities are complimentary with the purchase of an individual or family Grouse Mountain Alpine experience ticket.
3. Bright Nights at Stanley Park
Bright Nights is a longstanding favourite for children. This annual event runs every day until January 1st, except for Christmas Day. Bright Nights features holiday season decorations and illuminates Stanley Park with a stunning glimmer for all to enjoy. Admission to Bright Nights is by donation, with all proceeds going to the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund, so please give as best you can. Bright Nights also features a miniature train for which tickets need to be purchased in advance.
4. The Festival of Lights at Van Dusen Gardens
Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Gardens is transformed into a first-class light display for all ages to enjoy. In 2015, over 100,000 people walked through the magnificently lit gardens. The Festival of Lights runs until January 2nd, 2017, and is open from 4:30pm until 9:00pm.
5. The Vancouver Christmas Market
Featuring a carousel ride and Christmas goodies, you’ll find vendors that sell a variety of treats and holiday favourites that are sure to bring back a feeling of childhood nostalgia (for those whose families have holiday traditions that span over generations). The Market is located at the Jack Poole Plaza, the site of the Olympic Cauldron. Great tips to consider when heading to the market: arrive in the early evening if you are planning on attending mid-week, buy your tickets on-line if you can, plan a visit for a non-rainy day.
6. Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village
At Burnaby Village you’ll find Heritage Christmas, where the outdoor museum becomes bright with lights and holiday décor. This is a free event that boasts old-fashioned streets and historic buildings, including: a school; church; old homes; period-costumed townsfolk; a blacksmith; a historic Vancouver street car and; an ice-cream parlour too. The place to visit with much historical value is Heritage Christmas, open until January 2nd, 2017, from 1:00pm to 9:00pm daily, closed on December 24th and 25th.
7. St. Paul’s Hospital Lights of Hope
A tradition to downtown Vancouver and St. Paul’s hospital, this annual event features over 100,000 light bulbs that span a length of more than 10 kilometers. The lights are turned on to symbolize the Lights of Hope charity campaign supporting the hospital’s initiatives.
8. Visit a Local Foodbank
How about going to your local foodbank and donating your time? Contact a foodbank and ask how you can give back this year. Whether you give your time or donate canned or non-perishable foods, let’s all get out and GIVE BACK this year. Let’s roll-up our sleeves and end our year on a giving note.
9. Visit Santa
Many malls and venues throughout the Lower Mainland offer pictures with “Santa.” People often have a tradition where they go and see the same Santa every year. This year, why not get out and visit a new Santa at a different mall or venue for the first time?
10. Give Back
Last but definitely not least, something to DO this year is take ACTION and GIVE BACK. How can you pay it forward this holiday season? Make a special delivery to someone in need, or someone special to you that might need to hear that you care about them during this time of year. Volunteer, and keep it up. Start giving your time. After all, your time is the most valuable gift you can ever give another human. What are the benefits of giving? Giving your talents, giving your skills, engaging in an act of altruism, or acting in some else’s interests releases endorphins in your brain that help prolong your life. If you have children, get your whole family involved. For example, for each gift a child receives, a family can agree to donate a gift or toy to a special cause. Another way to give: write a note or card to someone and tell them why you are grateful for them.