Vancouver Christmas Market is the largest winter event in Canada, with visitors attending from across the country and further abroad.
This German-style market has all the traditional experiences you would expect, like Christmas stalls selling handmade gifts and decorations, delicious bratwurst and mulled wine and a festive atmosphere, rides and bars.
In this guide, I share all the details you’ll need for planning your visit, including dates for 2023, opening times, location information and what to expect at the Christmas stalls.
Although based on a traditional German Christmas market, Vancouver brings the event into the modern era with fun experiences you’ll find nowhere else.
Vancouver Christmas Market 2023
Here are some of the Christmas market events you can expect to find in 2023.
- Alpen House – A winter wonderland where you can sit, drink and keep warm.
- Gourmetstrasse – The place to go for Christmas food and drinks.
- Christmas Carousel – FREE rides for everyone.
- Christmas Tree – A walk-in Christmas tree decorated with 36,000 lights.
- Scavenger Hunt – A fun event to keep the kids entertained.
- Sky Curtain – A festive celebration of 22,000 lights above Tannenbaum Terrace.
- Love Locks – Purchase a lovelock for $3, or bring your own.
- Schwibbogen – A place to take a photo with a Christmas candle decoration. 🤷♀️
- Augmented Reality – These are Instagram filters where you can take photos to share.
At the Christmas markets in Vancouver, enter through the gates with your pre-purchased ticket, or you can buy at the gate (unless sold out).
Once you’re in, you’re free to walk around the festive Christmas chalets and participate in various events and activities.
This year there are more than 80 Christmas stalls with local, handmade products and several European vendors.
As far as food goes, there are all kinds of traditional central European food like bratwurst, pierogies, schnitzel, chimney cake, raclette, gulasch, kartoffelpuffs, spiced baked apples, pork shank and, of course, mulled wine.
There are also plenty of options for vegetarians and vegans, with some nut-free and gluten-free options.
Christmas Markets Tickets
Vancouver Christmas Market tickets are available online; you can also purchase them at the gate if they are not sold out.
It’s recommended to buy in advance to avoid missing out. Plus it’s cheaper to buy tickets in advance.
See below for promo codes and special discounts that are occasionally available.
Vancouver Christmas Market dates: Likely dates: 11th November to 24th December 2023.
Location: Jack Poole Plaza, Canada Place.
Opening times: 11:30am to 9:30pm (closes at 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays).
Christmas Day: Closed.
Admission: Tickets are required, starting at $19.99.
Christmas Market Tickets: You can purchase a single entry ticket or season pass for multiple visits. Book online.
Promo code: Check back for the latest promo codes.
STUDENT50 – 50% off for students on 24th November and 24th December. ID required.
HERO50 – 50% off for front line workers on 1st December. ID required.
BLACKFRIDAY – discount on Black Friday only.
Christmas lights: Yes, look out for the Sky Curtain of Lights display.
Ice skating: No.
Vegetarian: Yes, plenty of options.
Vegan: Yes, plenty of options.
Gluten free: Yes, but limited.
Pet-friendly: No, only service animals are allowed.
Parking: Please take public transport to help limit congestion.
Reason to visit: The beautiful waterfront location with more events than you’ll find elsewhere.
Recommended tour: Continue the Christmas experience with a Gardens Christmas Tour of beautiful Victoria on Vancouver Island to see the Christmas lights, wreaths and listen to Christmas carols.
Specialities: Gourmetstrasse is the place to go for Christmas food. Specialties include locally made gingerbread, sweet knedla dumplings, candied nuts, sweet and savoury macarons, Transylvanian chimney cake, gulasch, schnitzel, pierogies and Swiss raclette.
Where to stay: Paradox Hotel Vancouver is a highly-rated hotel in Coal Harbour, 10 minutes from the Christmas market.
Hotels near Vancouver Christmas Market
Although the Christmas market is located at Jack Poole Plaza at Canada Place, I suggest staying in a neighbourhood where there are more things to do and a wider variety of places to eat out.
Gastown is Vancouver’s historic district which is a great area to stay, or alternatively, you could stay in the busy Downtown district.
The Victorian Hotel is a good value for money hotel in Gastown.
However, if staying near the Christmas market is most important, I suggest staying at the Paradox Hotel. It’s located in the Coal Harbour district, less than a 10-minute walk to the Christmas market.
Location of Vancouver Christmas Market
Find more places to visit with my the the best Christmas markets in Canada. Discover where to go, things to do and the best ways to experience Canadian food, history and culture. Perfect for visitors and locals alike.
City and Christmas Tours
A tour around Vancouver is a brilliant way to immerse oneself in the city’s diverse culture and fascinating history. With its stunning skyline, vibrant neighbourhoods and impressive architecture, Vancouver is certainly a city worth exploring, even in the heart of winter.
I recommend taking this unusual tour of Vancouver’s infamous Prohibition-era history. You’ll get to see the city’s landmarks and attractions while learning about a unique time in the city’s history.
In addition, you might like this food tour in Gastown. A food tour is a great way to discover the local culture through its diverse food scene, and Gastown is the perfect place for this kind of tour.
Christmas in Vancouver
The following is a walk-through video of the Christmas market in Vancouver. Have a look if you want to get an idea of what to expect when you’re there.
Christmas Specialties in Vancouver
- Butter Tarts: A quintessential Canadian sweet treat, the butter tart is a delightful dessert composed of butter, sugar and eggs in a pastry shell. Often, you’ll find variants that include raisins or pecans. The gooey centre contrasts beautifully with the flaky pastry, resulting in a comforting and indulgent dessert.
- Nanaimo Bars: Hailing from Nanaimo, a city on Vancouver Island, Nanaimo bars are a three-layered dessert bar that does not require baking. The base layer combines wafer crumbs, coconut, and almonds, which is followed by custard-flavoured butter icing, topped off with a layer of chocolate ganache.
- Tourtière: A traditional French-Canadian dish typically served during the festive period, tourtière is a hearty meat pie often filled with finely diced pork, veal, or beef. Certain regional variants may include game, fish, or even a vegetarian filling, offering a warming and satisfying meal for cold winter nights.
- Bannock: A simple bread, bannock holds a significant place in Indigenous culture and cuisine. Made from basic ingredients like flour, baking powder, water and fat, it’s often cooked over an open fire. Modern versions can include add-ins like dried fruits or spices.
- Perogies: Introduced to Canada by Ukrainian immigrants, perogies have become a popular staple in many households, especially during Christmas. These dumplings are typically filled with potato, cheese and onion but can also be stuffed with sauerkraut, meat, or even sweet fillings.
- Smoked Salmon: Vancouver, being on the Pacific coast, is renowned for its fresh seafood. Smoked salmon is a local favourite and a common feature at holiday feasts. The fish is cured and smoked, resulting in a rich and smoky flavour, often enjoyed on a bagel or with cream cheese.
- Wild Rice and Mushroom Soup: A delicious vegan option, this soup combines wild rice, a traditional Indigenous ingredient, with earthy mushrooms, herbs and vegetables. It’s a warming, hearty dish perfect for cold winter evenings.
Food at the Christmas Market
- Poutine: A visit to Vancouver isn’t complete without tasting the quintessential Canadian dish, poutine. Crispy fries are generously smothered in rich gravy and squeaky cheese curds, creating a combination that’s hearty and perfect for warming up on a winter’s day.
- BC Salmon Chowder: I find the warming bowls of BC salmon chowder exceptionally comforting. This Pacific Northwest specialty takes full advantage of Vancouver’s seafood bounty. Creamy, hearty and packed with locally sourced salmon, it’s a bowl of comfort for those cold Christmas market nights.
- German Pretzels: Following international tradition, German pretzels make their way into Vancouver’s Christmas Market stalls. Freshly baked and sometimes even warm, these twisted treats range from the classic salted pretzel to those dusted with cinnamon sugar.
- Mulled Wine: A cup of mulled wine can be quite handy to keep your hands warm while browsing the market. This spiced and warmed wine is a festive favourite worldwide and adds a special aroma to the winter air at the Vancouver Christmas Market.
- Perogies: While you may have tried them at a family meal, enjoying perogies in the festive environment of the market is an experience in itself. These little dumplings of Ukrainian origin come filled with various savoury or even sweet fillings.
- Artisan Chocolate: At the Vancouver Christmas stalls, you’ll come across chalets displaying a wide variety of artisan chocolates. Local chocolatiers take pride in their creations, from classic dark and milk chocolates to unique flavours like lavender or chai.
- Beaver Tails: A deliciously fried dough snack stretched to resemble a beaver’s tail. Typically topped with a variety of sweet treats such as Nutella, cinnamon sugar, or lemon, beaver tails are a Canadian classic that can be found throughout the Christmas market.
What to Buy
- Local Artisan Crafts: You’ll find an array of unique crafts made by Vancouver artisans. The market’s stalls are brimming with unique pieces, from handmade jewellery to woodwork and ceramics. They serve as wonderful keepsakes or gifts representing the creativity of the local craft community.
- Indigenous Art: Vancouver sits on the traditional territory of many Indigenous peoples. The market often features stalls selling authentic Indigenous art, such as beautifully woven baskets, carved totems, and intricate beadwork. Buying such art supports local Indigenous artisans and adds cultural significance to your gift.
- Canadian Maple Syrup: Maple syrup is iconic in Canada. Bottles of this liquid gold, sourced from eastern Canadian forests, make sweet gifts for friends and family. Many stalls also sell maple-infused products like candies and cookies.
- Hand-Knitted Clothing: Vancouver’s chill demands warm clothing, and what better than hand-knitted items like hats, scarves and mittens? They combine style, warmth, and a personal touch, often created with locally sourced wool.
- Local Wines and Spirits: British Columbia is known for its vineyards and distilleries. The market usually features stalls where you can buy locally produced wines, gins and other spirits. They make for excellent gifts, letting your loved ones taste the flavour of the region.
- Handmade Candles: The Christmas market also showcases handmade candles, often scented with quintessential Pacific Northwest aromas like cedar and pine. Besides filling homes with lovely fragrances, these candles also contribute to a cosy winter atmosphere.
- Traditional Christmas Decorations: Various traditional Christmas decorations are also available. These items add a classic touch to any Christmas tree or festive decor, from hand-painted glass baubles to intricately crafted nutcrackers and wooden ornaments.
Destination Vancouver is the official tourism website for the city. It has information regarding events and the best ways to experience Vancouver at Christmas, especially if you’re looking for specific themed events or activities.
Sustainable Travel Tips
Many of us are increasingly concerned about climate change and sustainability. I’ve listed some small actions we can take to help lower our impact at this Christmas event in Vancouver.
- Eco-Friendly Hotels: On my trips, I’ve found that Vancouver is home to a number of eco-friendly hotels that use renewable energy. Look for accommodation with a commitment to green practices, such as the use of solar power or energy-efficient heating systems.
- Reducing Food Waste: It’s heartening to note that Vancouver has a range of initiatives to curb food waste. When dining out, you might consider ordering smaller portions or sharing dishes to prevent leftovers from going to waste. Alternatively, using the city’s composting facilities is a fantastic way to contribute to reducing food waste pollution.
- Ethical Shopping: In Vancouver, many shops and stalls at the Christmas market promote ethical consumption. I always make it a point to support local artisans and Indigenous artists whose work embodies fair trade and sustainable practices.
- Local and Seasonal Eating: I encourage embracing a sustainable diet by focusing on local and seasonal produce. Vancouver’s Christmas markets often showcase local farmers and food producers. Eating locally reduces food miles, supports the local economy and tends to be fresher and more nutritious.
- Eco-friendly Transport: Vancouver’s public transport system is reliable and widely used. I usually find that it’s not necessary to hire a car. Buses, trams, and the SkyTrain can get you almost anywhere in the city. For shorter distances, consider using the city’s extensive network of cycling paths; bike hire services are readily available.
- Waste Reduction: In an effort to minimise waste, consider bringing reusable shopping bags, water bottles and coffee cups when out and about. Numerous Vancouver cafes and market stalls are more than happy to fill these, reducing single-use waste.
- Responsible Wildlife Tours: One of the highlights of visiting Vancouver is seeing local wildlife. However, choosing tour operators that follow ethical practices is crucial, ensuring minimal disturbance to the animals and their habitats. For instance, whale watching tours that adhere to strict guidelines, maintaining a respectful distance from the magnificent creatures, are the kind of activities I recommend.
- Use of Green Spaces: Vancouver is peppered with green spaces, including Stanley Park, one of North America’s largest urban parks. By visiting these areas, you support their upkeep and the preservation of local biodiversity. Just remember to follow the leave-no-trace principles to keep these spaces pristine for future visitors and local wildlife.
Vancouver Christmas Market starts on 11th November and ends on 24th December 2023.
The Christmas markets in Vancouver are held on the waterfront at Jack Poole Plaza, Canada Place.
The Vancouver Christmas markets open at 11:30am.
The Christmas markets in Vancouver close at 9:30pm (closes at 10pm on Fridays and Saturdays).
Due to the number of people attending, the city recommends taking public transport to the Christmas market. If you must park, several nearby parking garages exist in Downtown, Gastown and Coal Harbour.
Please comment below if you want to leave a review of Vancouver Xmas Market.
Recommendations are independently chosen based on personal travel experiences and extensive research. This post contains affiliate links to hotels and tours in Vancouver, Canada. This means I get a small commission from any bookings at no extra cost to you.
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