I attended a media tour and event preview of Christmas at Canada Place as a guest of Port Metro Vancouver. Nevertheless, all opinions in the following post are my own.
This time of year can get a little expensive, especially for families. It’s not just gift-giving and holiday feasts that can strain the wallet, but also the events and activities that pop up just in time for the school break. Even taking a family of four to a Christmas movie can run to nearly $100.00, if you include a trip to the snack bar.
Christmas at Canada Place is a welcome antidote to the premium prices that families face with many other holiday activities – it’s free! For the 26th year of festivities there, they’ve expanded their offerings considerably. Along with the display of Woodward’s iconic Christmas window displays, there’s a range of activities that could keep a family engaged for hours. The theme this year is Christmas in Canada and they’ve provided both curling and skating rinks (with artificial ice on loan from Park Royal Shopping Centre), miniature train rides (provided by CN and staffed by wonderful volunteers from the West Coast Railway Association), and an interactive virtual tour of the Northwest Territories. There’s also a craft area, featuring different holiday crafts each day, a #ChristmasinCanada photo booth, and visits from Santa on weekends. Food and drink will be available, with food trucks showing up mostly on the weekends, featuring Canadian foods – think bearclaws and poutine.
What most impressed me about how this event’s been organized is how much planning has gone into making this a low cost affair for attendees. Though you can purchase food there if you’d like, folks are also encouraged to bring along their own meals to share at the gift-wrapped picnic tables. You can purchase professional photos with Santa, with packages ranging from $10.00 to $20.00, but staff will also take photos for you with your own camera. There’s a suggested donation of $2.00 for activities, which goes directly to Strathcona Community Centre’s Backpack Program, supporting food security for kids. In the case of the train ride, the funds are split between the backpack program and the West Coast Railway Association, another worthy recipient. There is also free entertainment at two stages throughout the month. When I spoke to Gillian Behnke of Port Metro Vancouver, this year’s lead presenter at Canada Place, she told me that making the event financially accessible was a planning priority for the event. This thoughtfulness makes this event a model for corporations and institutions wanting to connect with the community around them.
Speaking of community, the entire district has come together for the first time this year to provide activities and festivities for the public throughout the month of December. I’ll tell you a little bit more about the Winter Waterfront District tomorrow, when I talk about my trip to FlyOver Canada. In the meantime, don’t forget to bring some non-perishible goods with you when you head down to Canada Place, as they’re aiming to fill a shipping container with donations to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank. You can’t miss it – it’s the enormous gift-wrapped container on the plaza.