The holiday season can be hectic. It can also be pretty pricey. Having fun in Vancouver through the Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa season doesn’t have to break the piggy bank though.
If you’re pinching your loonies for that perfect gift or saving your bills for a mid-winter trip to the tropics, then finding fun, thrifty stuff to do is a priority.
I’ve compiled a list of free or almost free Vancouver activities this December. Grab a handful of change, bundle up and explore the budget-friendly activities on offer in chilly Vancity.
Hip Hop Karaoke – Experience local ciphers laying it down on stage for only $3. If you prefer Run DMC’s Christmas in Hollis to Bing Crosby’s Its Beginning to Look a lot Like Christmas, then check out hip hop karaoke at the Fortune Sound Club December 16. The wildly popular, rap-focused karaoke night turns four this month. Show up before 10:30 p.m. and cover is cheap. Cost: $3.
Festival of Trees – Every Christmas season the Four Seasons Hotel and Pacific Centre Mall display bejeweled conifers in the name of charity. Companies pay to decorate trees, the funds raised go to the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation. Win, win overall. The best part? The public can vote for their favourite tree and be entered to win a trip for two sponsored by Westjet. Cost: $0
Gingerbread Lane – You’ve probably built a gingerbread house or two in your life, but I’ll bet they’re not like the ones at the Hyatt Regency’s Gingerbread lane (no offense). Check out the multitude of Gingerbread structures in the hotel lobby – all proceeds from the building contest and from voters who want to cast their ballot for their favourite gingerbread house go to the BC Make a Wish Foundation. Cost: By donation
Wine tasting – Looking to do a mini-wine tasting crawl on the cheap? Each Friday the Sutton Place Wine Merchant hosts complimentary tastings from 4:30 – 6:30 p.m. Learn about foreign and BC varietals on your way home or to that after work party. If you want to go a little further south, Marquis Wine Cellars on Davie Street also hosts free wine tastings on Friday afternoons from 2:00 – 5:00 p.m. Cost: $0
Christmas at Canada Place – Ride a mini-train, learn to curl, take part in a Christmas crafting session or skate under faux Aurora Borealis. For the last 26 years Port Metro Vancouver and Canada Place teamed up to host a family-friendly, free Christmas celebration at the Canada Place cruise ship terminal. Cost: $0 (or $2 w/skate rentals)
Stretch out holiday kinks strains – Earlier this year I wrote about all the ohm-tastic places to practice karma yoga. One such magical studio is Karma Teachers. If you want a break from shopping downtown, then head to the backdoor of 45 West Hastings. Bring a yoga mat, comfy clothes, and your best, most loving Namaste to attend one of Karma Teacher’s four to six karma yoga classes each day. While classes are free donations are welcome. Cost: By donation
Late night movies at the Rio – Who says Halloween can’t extend into December. Drag out your pirate, Peter Pan or elf costumes this December to take advantage of the Rio Theatre’s late night movie fun. Each Friday East Vancouver’s Rio Theatre hosts a late night movie. If you come dressed as Peter Pan or a pirate on December 13, you can see Hook for $6. If striped tights and a pointy hat are more your thing then pitch up dressed as an elf to watch Will Farrell at his finest on December 20. Cost: $6.
Tuesday nights at the Vancouver Art Gallery – The current show at the Vancouver Art Gallery is a home run. Charles Edenshaw’s argillite, silver and wood carvings are works to behold. My favourite part of the exhibit: the audio tales of Haida oral history and the bracelet room chock full of gorgeous form line gold and silver bangles (this will give you something to save your loonies for). Cost: by donation Tuesday nights
Do you have any frugal and fun tips for December activities? Share your tips in the comments section below.