As the song goes, it's the most wonderful time of the year. My to-do list is neverending but I don't mean the unfun/errands/shopping/adulting type of to do list (although that one does tend to also be neverending). I am refering to my list of festive events to attend around the city at this time of year.
Every year, there seem to be new events organized and added to Vancouver events calendars, making it impossible to attend every single one. While new events are constantly being added, some of my favorite events seem to be the ones that have been around for a long time and really put me in the Christmas spirit.
Earlier this week, the famjam and I hopped on the SkyTrain and headed to downtown Vancouver to attend some of these events that I have fond memories of attending in the past. The great thing is, there are a number of events that are within walking distance to one another so it is easy to see them all in one go. Another great thing: they are all free to attend, so it doesn't cost an arm and a leg to bring the whole family! However, they are all fundraisers, so donating to the excellent causes is really encouraged. After all, it is the season to give!
Here is what we got up to and an itinerary of our adventure:
Stop 1: Gingerbread Lane at the Hyatt Regency Hotel
Located in the lobby of the Hyatt Regency Hotel, next to Burrard SkyTrain Station, this event showcases some outstanding gingerbread houses created by local organizations, schools, individuals and culinary artists. I am always amazed at what people come up with and the patience that they must have to create such masterpieces. The details on some of them are just incredible! I will share some with you here but you will have to attend the event to see more! I don't want to spoil it for you!
Entry is free but donations are being accepted for the Make-A-Wish Foundation (BC and Yukon division) which is a charity that grants wishes to children with life-threatening medical conditions. As an added perk, donations allow you to cast a vote for your favorite gingerbread creation. If you are unable to make it to Gingerbread Lane, you can also donate online.
Stop 2: Lights of Hope at St. Paul's Hospital
We continued south on Burrard Street, about 8 blocks (roughly a ten minute walk at the most) away from Gingerbread Lane until we reached St. Paul's Hospital and their eye catching annual light display and fundraising campaign called Lights of Hope. This display takes 6 weeks to build with over 150 volunteers! It really is a sight to see! Lennon loved walking through and exploring the lights and it made for some great photos! If you are unable to pass by and check this display out, you can also donate online.
While you are in the area, you can also check out the light display at the Sheraton Vancouver Wall Centre Hotel, which is across St.Paul's Hospital.
Stop 3: The Official Vancouver Christmas Tree
Vancouver's version of New York's Rockefeller Centre Christmas Tree (it totally reminds me of it anyways...and Home Alone 2). The main 50-foot tall tree and its neighbors are in a new location this year, at Robson Square. Before the annual tree lighting ceremony, one can help light the tree by "purchasing a bulb" which supports the Vancouver International Children's Festival. After the ceremony, which happened at the beginning of December, donations can be made online.
If you have time, you can tick off another holiday event off your list and check out the outdoor skating rink on the lower level of Robson Square, directly below where the trees are.
Stop 4: Festival of Trees at the Four Seasons Hotel
Similar to Gingerbread Lane, the Festival of Trees event showcases Christmas trees decorated by local businesses and individuals while raising funds for BC Children's Hospital. There are some truly unique trees and there is no shortage of decorating inspiration that can be found here! There is no admission fee but there is a suggested donation of $5 (which also gives you a vote for your favorite tree...if you can pick just one. But you can always vote for multiples seeing as your money will be going to a worthy cause)! You can also donate and vote online. Here are some photos from the Festival of Trees but I won't share them all as I don't want to spoil any surprises!
This was definitely a fun festive adventure. You can incorporate an adventure like this with shopping, a meal at one of the many restaurants, cocktails or a night out on the town. You can grab a hot beverage from one of the many coffee shops to keep you warm along the way, and you don't even need to drive downtown as the locations of these events are all within walking distance to multiple SkyTrain stations. I love that you don't have to spend so much money to attend these events either and that the money you do spend by donating to the charities is going right back into the community and to very important causes. Here is a little map I made to show you the route and how close everything is:
There are also plenty of festive decorations that you will notice along the way, in store fronts, hotel lobbies, and so on.
There may not be any snow on the ground downtown, but with all these festive events, we really did feel like we were in a Winter Wonderland! Are there any other sights to see in the nearby area that we missed?!
Hope you are all enjoying the festivities!