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Need something to do this weekend? Here are five of the best Christmas activities to do in the Lower Mainland
Eastside Flea, 550 Malkin Ave
Nothing says festive spirit like markets. Vancouver is obviously a city of artisan markets: fresh produce from late spring to early fall, artist pop-ups all year round, even university events or anime conventions providing table space for local creatives to hawk their wares. But Christmastime markets have something special about them. Obviously the downtown German-styled market that sets up annually in Canada Place is the behemoth (and kind of worth it solely for the funnel cakes), but all around town there’s smaller, cosier shopping to explore.
The Eastside Flea, running every weekend from December 3 to 18, is just one of the countless options to explore. Last year’s mix of thrift clothing, artwork, fancy soaps, cute candles and handcrafted chocolates enticed me to buy not just gifts for others but a few neat treats for myself. Plus, it’s held in Eastside Studios, a queer-owned venue that hosts everything from markets to dance nights and film screenings.
Tinseltown Bar, Vancouver Alpen Club, 4875 Victoria Drive
Just like a lot of people, what helps me get through the holidays is: you guessed it, alcohol. And what’s a better place to pregame your second cousin's half-removed sister-in-law's Christmas dinner than a place that looks like Christmas threw up all over it (in the best way possible)?
Tinseltown Bar is decked out with Christmas swag and features tons of holiday beverages. Just like when Mariah Carey rises from the dead there will be plenty of festive tunes and of course, there will be tinsel everywhere reminiscent of when you return from the club with a surprising amount of glitter all over you.
You have to book in advance and you can do that online. But don’t worry, each ticket includes one festive drink (and you’ll have plenty of opportunities to buy more). -Marco Ovies
Grouse Mountain’s Peak of Christmas, 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver
Yeah, it’s a pretty obvious ‘Christmas in Vancouver’ kind of spot. I know. But we’re talking about early Christmas here, and Grouse Mountain’s The Peak of Christmas is really only a recommendable experience if you manage to get yourself up there before the first week of December closes out. Come school holidays, you’ll be elbowing past skiers, snowboarders, and what feels like every family in the Lower Mainland struggling in the attempt to summit that most popular of Vancouver mountains.
But now? Eh. Probably still busy (it is Grouse, after all), though you won’t be battling it out in an hours-long gondola lineup alongside hoards of snowboarders. Do yourself the favour of waiting until a weekday and cashing in on a “sick day” to give yourself more breathing room. Those gondolas can get pretty cramped, after all. Plus, by checking out the festivities before the crush, you’ll get the jump on all those families who leave Christmas Time Things to the last minute. And there’s nothing sweeter than a sense of superiority paired with a $7 hot chocolate at the Peak of Vancouver. -Chandler Walter
Weirdos Holiday Market, 600 Campbell Avenue
Ever seen that perfect Christmas gift, not pulled the trigger, and then kicked yourself afterwards? That’s another way of saying that, if you left last year’s Weirdos Holiday Market in East Van thinking “I really should have bought that rat wearing a top hot in a jar of formaldehyde,” you’re not alone. Sometimes you jump on a pair of python vertebrae earrings, or an “eat the rich” coffee cup, or a mounted jackalope head, and sometimes you live to regret it.
A one-stop-shopping mecca targeting “those unsatisfied by the everyday gift,” Weirdos Holiday Market most definitely does not disappoint, especially if that special someone of your list has a things for taxidermy, custom-made throw pillows, steampunk light fixtures, left-field art, post-Games of Thrones jewelry and leatherware, neon-hued dolls heads with facial piercings, and, well, you get the idea. Added bonus—the folks of Burnaby’s Punk Rock Pastries will be on site should you have a hankering for a Mr. Hanky Sugar Cookie or Vegan Krampus Gingy. Tickets are $5 at the door, with the market running multiple days (December 10, 11, 17, 18, and an adults-only night market on December 9 and 16). See you there. And don’t you even think about looking at the rat in the top hat. -Mike Usinger
Bass Pro Shop Outdoor World, 5000 Canoe Pass Wy, Tsawwassen
I have a great affection for big box retail, which is how I’ve managed to survive in the cultural hinterlands (Tsawwassen) for two years since fleeing the city. Where once I’d admire myself in the windows of funky Main Street boutiques, I now do it instead in the sliding doors of my local Outdoor World.
If you don’t know Outdoor World, it’s the supersized outdoors retailer operated by Cabela’s, located a cool 40 seconds downhill from my home – which happens to be ground zero for Christmas glory in South Delta. The store converts essentially into a gargantuan Christmas market, with all manners of holiday items for every variety of outdoorsmen: from expert hunters, to competent campers,. to petrified urbanite (myself included).
You ever been to a wooded cabin at Christmas? Me neither, but this is exactly what I assumed it would look like: log siding, flannel bed spreads, taxidermy animals all around. But the real showstopper is Santa and his massive log chair, who will take photos with your children for a fee. It’s awesome, and by “awesome” I mean, “appealing to the kids which helps alleviate the existential dread of facing another day in the suburbs”.
Merry Christmas, all! -Stephen Smysnuik