Vancouver, Canada in December: Visit The Vancouver Christmas Market
Every December, Vancouver, BC gets decked out for the holidays and hosts the Vancouver Christmas Market. While December travel is generally chilly, I love visiting a new city to experience how it transforms for the Christmas season. A long weekend trip to Vancouver in December left me pleasantly surprised with the holiday spirit that radiates throughout the city. In addition to the Vancouver Christmas Market, the entire city gets decorated with lights, garland and huge trees adorned in beautiful ornaments.
My long weekend trip to Vancouver wasn't intended to be one full of holiday cheer, but it ended up being just that. For those of us who are out here on the west coast of North America, we don't always have the opportunity to experience one of the amazing, traditional Christmas markets that are popular throughout Europe. And while I'm super sad and envious year after year when I see photos of those gorgeous European Christmas markets, I'm super happy to have found a Christmas market that is a weekend trip away from my home in San Francisco.
The Vancouver Christmas Market has over 75 huts serving delicious traditional dishes, warm holiday-inspired drinks, and selling gifts and souvenirs from around the world. So if you're like me, unable to jet off to Europe during the holiday season but wanting to experience some classic Christmas fun and festivities, then consider a trip to Vancouver, BC. If you're on the west coast of Canada or the United States, the trip to Vancouver can even be done as a quick weekend getaway.
Visiting the Vancouver Christmas Market
When to Visit The Vancouver Christmas Market
The Vancouver Christmas Market opens on Wednesday, November 24, 2017 and will remain open everyday through Christmas Eve, Sunday, December 24, 2017. The market is open daily from 11:00 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and will close at 6 p.m. on Christmas Eve. Personally, I enjoyed visiting the market in the late afternoon or early evening, as the sun is beginning to set behind the buildings and the lighting is soft and crisp. This timing also allows you to catch the Christmas lights as they start to turn on.
How to get to the Vancouver Christmas Market
The Vancouver Christmas Market is located at Jack Poole Plaza, also commonly known and recognized as the home to the Olympic Cauldron from the 2010 Olympic Games in Vancouver. The plaza is located on the water with a beautiful view of snow-capped mountains in the distance. The view and surrounding scenery is one of my favorite things about the location of the Christmas market. It really added to the over holiday feel. The city of Vancouver has a variety of public transit systems that are easily accessible, including the SkyTrain, city buses and the SeaBus. You can use the TransLink Trip Planner to find the route that's best for you depending where you are coming from.
Jack Poole Plaza, 1055 Canada Place, Vancouver, BC V6C 3G3
Eat and Drink at The Vancouver Christmas Market
One tip for visiting the Vancouver Christmas Market—show up hungry. I intentionally didn't eat all day because I knew there would be a lot of food I'd want to try at the Christmas market. Unfortunately, there's only so much stomach space I can spare in a few hours time, but here are some of the things I was able to try.
It's easy to find Haxen Haus, just look for the long line winding past all of the other food stands. Once you lay your eyes on the Bavarian-style pork hock, slowly roasting so perfectly, you'll understand why the lines forms as long as it does. The meat is nice and crispy and falls right off of the bone. It comes served with sauerkraut and bread—it's so good. This is the top dish I wanted to try when planning to visit the Vancouver Christmas Market, and it did not disappoint.
Traditional Glühwein & Feuerzangenbowl
Stay warm in the chilly Vancouver weather by sipping on traditional Glühwein & Feuerzangenbowl. Glühwein, traditionally consumed during the holidays, is made with red wine and a variety of mulling spices, then served warm. Also served hot, Feuerzangenbowle is a traditional German drink where rum-soaked sugar is set on fire and left to drip into mulled wine. I tried both beverages and can vouch that each one is warm, delicious and makes you feel extra festive and cozy as you strut around the Christmas market. If you want to go home with a holiday souvenir, you can spend a few extra dollars to purchase the Vancouver Christmas Market's holiday souvenir mug. Enjoy your warm boozy beverage in a cute holiday mug while at the market, then take the mug with you to enjoy more festive drinks at home!
Other things to Know: Vancouver Christmas Market
There is an entry fee to get in to the Vancouver Christmas Market. Tickets can be purchased online if you'd like to avoid lines at the event. Online ticket purchases include express lane access and a 2017 season pass to the Christmas market. An early bird discount on admission is available Monday to Friday before 4 p.m.
Adult Admission (Age 13+): $10
Senior Admission (Age 65+): $9
Youth Admission (7-12): $5
Child Admission (6 & under): Free
Payments & ATMs
Only cash is accepted at the admissions entry gate, but many of the vendors in the Vancouver Christmas Market accept debit and credit cards. If you need to withdraw cash, there are two ATMs outside of the Christmas market, and another two machines located inside.