If you’re looking for holiday fun on a budget, the good news is, there are plenty of fun indoor and outdoor activities to add to December’s itinerary. From Christmas markets and festivals to holiday-themed improv shows, here are 12 amazing free & cheap things to do around Vancouver this December.

Check out this free Christmas festival on Granville Island

If you’re keen on experiencing some Christmas market magic but want to skip admission fees, you can’t do better than this inaugural market and festival on Granville Island. The Vancouver Fish Company has brought together a ton of talented local vendors, including Island EssentialsWinterborn AlpacaFallen Tree Vancouver, and much more. Plus, you can load up on delicious mulled wine, Nutella waffles, and fresh cinnamon donuts while you’re there.

When: Friday, November 25th to December 24th
Where: 1517 Anderson Street
Cost: Free

The Polygon Gallery’s Annual Holiday Shop 

In terms of holiday markets, you can’t go wrong with North Van’s Little Mountain Shop. The pop-up features an all-Canadian lineup of mostly BIPOC and female creators, who you can meet and learn from directly at their “Meet The Maker” events taking place every weekend leading up to the holidays. Each market will last from 11 am to 4 pm at the Polygon Gallery.

When: Multiple dates in December
Where: 101 Carrie Cates Court

Japan Market Christmas Fair 

 

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To complete our triad of affordable/free holiday markets is the return of the Japan Market Christmas Fair at the start of the month. Three Japanese-Canadian vendors have teamed to put on this two-day Japan-inspired market, complete with local art, crafts, and delicious eats. Early bird tickets go for just $4 a pop, or $7 for two adult tickets. Note that each ticket is good for one of the two days that the Christmas Fair runs.

When: Saturday, December 3rd and Sunday, December 4th
Where: 800 Robson Street
Cost: $4-$7

Robson Square Ice Rink

Who’s ready to kick off ice skating season at Robson Square? For just $5 per skate rental, you can skate to your heart’s content. Stop by on a spontaneous trip downtown, or plan a special pre-dinner visit on your next date.

When: Friday, December 2nd to February 28th, 2023
Where: 800 Robson Street
Cost: $5 for skate rentals

VanDusen Festival of Lights

The already gorgeous garden is now officially transformed for the holidays, with over one million twinkling lights across a variety of installations. Pair it with a clear evening, and this is the perfect date idea or spot to take the family over the holiday season.

When: Until January 2nd
Where: 5251 Oak Street
Cost: $21

Weekly specials at Lunch Bar by Kafka’s 

Warm up with a bowl of stew or a hot sandwich at Lunch Bar, Kafka Gastown’s newest venture. And to sweeten the pot, the new Lunch Bar is serving up weekly stew specials for $13.50 – one vegan and one meat. And what’s more, both are served with a slice of fresh-baked focaccia.

Where: 151 West Hastings Street

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Spirit of the Season Festival

Returning to the Shipyards this year is North Van’s iconic Spirit of the Season Festival, which delights visitors all over the region with free hot cocoa and a variety of food truck eats, a holiday market at The Pipe Shop, music, dance, & ice skating performances, and of course, a 30-foot Christmas tree lighting. Guests can meet roaming holiday characters, including Mr. and Mrs. Claus themselves, and hit the ice at the Shipyards Skate Plaza.

When: Saturday, December 3rd
Where: The Shipyards
Cost: Free

BC Culture Days 

From uncovering Vancouver’s lost architectural legacy to exploring the politics of the body, BC Culture Days always has an array of free (and by-donation) offerings. Check out some live events going on this month, or tune in at home digitally.

Where: See locations at the link above

See an improv show

 

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From Date Night improv to monthly standup sessions, House Team showcases, and more – there’s always something exciting going on at The Improv Centre on Granville Island. And if you’re ready for even more fun this season, you’ll definitely want to check out their Happy Hectic Holidays show from December 17th to December 24th, or their “NYE at TIC” show or the “Year in Review.” Because what better way to look back on 2022 than with laughter and libations?

Where: 1515 Anderson Street

Vancouver Giants

The Vancouver Giants are facing off against the Blazers, the Cougars, the Rockets, the Winterhawks, and the Royals at the Arena Bowl at the Langley Events Centre this month. With plenty of home games to choose from (and $20 tickets), why not go and support our team & make some great holiday memories in the process?

When: Multiple dates in December
Where: 7888 200 Street Langley
Cost: $20

Save it for a rainy (or snowy) day

Why go with one rainy day activity when we could share all our fave picks?? And since quite a bit of snow is underway, that’s all the more reason to be cozy and enjoy some fun indoors. Luckily, these make for some amazing wintertime memories without breaking the bank.

Where: See our picks above

Go on a winter stroll 

 

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While it might make getting around a little (or a lot) more difficult, there’s no denying that our city transforms into a winter wonderland when it snows. If you’re looking to enjoy a nice stroll this season, here are some great options to start with – from mountain climbs to inner-city parks.

Where: See our picks above

And that’s a wrap on some of the best free & cheap things to do around Vancouver this month!