Winter fun shouldn’t break the bank, so we’ve gathered a great big list of all the fun free or low-cost (no more than $5 per person) activities happening around Metro Vancouver. Enjoy skating, tobogganing, museum hopping, festivals, celebrations, parades, and everything else Metro Vancouver has to offer this season.

  1. Skate at Robson Square. Skating is free, skate and helmet rental are just $4.
  2. Once the snow arrives, go tobogganing. All you need is a sled, garbage bag or cookie sheet (yes, really!). Head to one of Vancouver’s awesome FREE tobogganing hills at, China Creek Park, Coal Harbour Hill, Douglas Park, Falaise Park, Kensington Park, Queen Elizabeth Park, Trimble Park or Vancouver Aquatic Centre.
  3. Attend the free Winter Solstice Lantern Festival in Vancouver to celebrate the longest night of the year on Thursday, December 21st.
  4. Richmond is also celebrating the solstice with the annual Longest Night event on Saturday, December 16th from 1 pm – 4 pm at the Richmond Nature Park. Admission is by donation.
  5. Experience a traditional holiday celebration at the Burnaby Village Museum’s Heritage Christmas. On until January 5th, 2018! Entry is free and carousel rides are just $2.65 each.
  6. Join a reading program at your local library, like the awesome 1,000 Stories Pre-K program at the Fraser Valley Regional Library.
  7. Experience art on Tuesday evenings at the Vancouver Art Gallery admission is by donation!
  8. Take a walk down Gingerbread Lane — head to the Hyatt Regency until December 29th to view a festive display of yummy gingerbread houses. Don’t forget to vote for your favourite!
  9. Go on a stroll or a drive to see pretty lights. We love the lights at Williams Park in Langley (until December 15th) and Lafarge Lake in Coquitlam (until January 21st). Plus there’s the fabulous GIANT tree at Jack Poole Plaza in Vancouver (until January 2nd).
  10. Take the plunge at a polar bear swim on New Year’s Day. Free for the brave! Bring a non-perishable food item to donate to the Greater Vancouver Food Bank.
  11. Take advantage of the final weeks of free park entry to any of Canada’s national parks (ends December 31st, 2017). Don’t worry if you missed it, because, in 2018, youth 17 and under will get into parks for free.
  12. Celebrate Chinese New Year with a fun festive parade at the end of January.
  13. Sip some yummy hot chocolate at the 2018 Hot Chocolate Festival from January 20th – February 14th. Prices vary but are typically less than $5.
  14. Host a film festival at home. Invite some friends over, have the kiddos make movie tickets and select some fun family movies, and settle in for a great afternoon and evening at the movies (without paying movie ticket prices). Just make sure you have lots of popcorn on hand!
  15. Build a snowman, snow fort, or igloo. The meteorologists say we should be getting a white winter, so pop on a toque and enjoy the flurries.
  16. Visit your local library and grab all the winter-themed books you can find. Snuggle under a big blanket and spend the afternoon reading and staying warm.
  17. Clear out your old toys and clothes and donate them to charity.
  18. Write a letter to a friend and mail it. Head to the post office (perhaps after the Christmas rush) and, get your hands on a stamp and send the letter on its way! If you’re lucky you may get a letter in return.
  19. Make pretty snowflakes and tape them to your window or hang them from your ceiling. It’s a great activity to help with fine motor skills development!
  20. Visit the Burnaby Art Gallery where entry is always by donation.
  21. Gaze into outer space at the GMS Observatory. During the winter, the observatory is open on Saturday evenings and is located right next to the Space Centre. Entry to the observatory is by donation.
  22. Countdown to midnight and the New Year at Concord’s NYE Vancouver Watch fireworks and enjoy concerts, food & entertainment. You can buy tickets to watch the fireworks or catch them at one of the free viewing locations.
  23. Explore a new neighbourhood, there are shops, restaurants and playgrounds waiting for you to discover! Not sure where to start? Try one of our favourite day tripping locations: Fort Langley, Port Moody, Pemberton, New Westminster, Deep Cove, and Steveston
  24. Enjoy a family game night. Pull out some board games that have been collecting dust and teach the kiddos how to play. Make sure to have hot chocolate and lots of snacks on hand!
  25. Have fun with the whole family — the City of Surrey has some great free family activities on from January – March, like a family movie or a family fun night.
  26. Help a neighbour and shovel their sidewalk. Good deeds are fun too!
  27. Browse the stalls at your local winter farmers’ market.
  28. Enjoy a free kids workshop through the ArtStarts Weekend Programs. Programs run every weekend and feature a variety of different activities – from ballet to music to arts & crafts.
  29. Build something great! Home Depot has free builds for kids the second Saturday of every month.
  30. Make a fun holiday treat.
  31. Take a 30-minute crafting class at Michaels Crafts, every Saturday, for only $2! For kids aged 3 and up.
  32. Snuggle up under a blanket fort, an extra fun activity if the power has gone out!
  33. Head to the Lego Store for a free Monthly Mini Build event, the first Tuesday of every month.
  34. Take a free, guided nature walk in Surrey. Walks run from January – March.
  35. Visit Wesbrook Village in Vancouver by UBC for all sorts of great free family-friendly fun – every Wednesday there are free family movies
  36. Visit the Family Place at River District Centre every Tuesday and Thursday at 10 am for fun free activities for kids aged 0 – 5.
  37. Plan something fun to do with your family on Family Day, Monday, February 13th, 2017. Lots of communities host free events!
  38. Bake some heart-shaped cookies for Valentine’s Day and decorate them using these awesome techniques.
  39. Drop into the Contemporary Art Gallery for a free CAG Family Art Day, the last Saturday of each month from 12 pm – 3 pm.
  40. Head to Locomotive No. 374 at the Roundhouse Community Centre in Yaletown to satisfy the train lover in your family. It’s open daily and it’s free to tour.
  41. Join in a local Family Day activity in your neighbourhood.
  42. Be one with nature at an awesome Metro Vancouver outdoor program. Most are free and family and kid-friendly.
  43. Enjoy a fun family movie at the theatre for only $2.99. Cineplex Family Favourites run Saturday mornings at 11 am at select theatres in Metro Vancouver. Proceeds go to WE Charity.
  44. Head to your local library for a fun and interactive story or show. Especially when it’s cold and yucky outside! You’ll also find Lego builds, board game nights and family movie afternoons. All free.
  45. Bundle up and head out on a nature walk with your kiddos. Walk a familiar path and point out all the things that are different during the winter. Print out a scavenger hunt and see how many things you can find.
  46. Make some art with your family. Head to the Evergreen Cultural Centre in Coquitlam for Family Days. Make a day of it and take the handy-dandy Evergreen Extension to get there!
  47. Write a book together – tap into your child’s imagination and have them think of a wintery adventure where they have the starring role. Help them with story structure and creating pages, then leave them to illustrate.
  48. Make spectacular Valentine’s Day cards for everyone you know. All it takes are a few supplies, glue, and maybe a little glitter. Here are a bunch of fun ideas to get you started.
  49. While you’re at it, plan a fun family Valentine’s Day complete with heart pancakes, and a special dessert just for the parents.
  50. Drop by your local community centre for family playtime. It varies from centre to centre, but you’ll find a variety of toys and activities waiting for your rambunctious kids! Drop-in fees are typically only $1 – $2 per kid.

Looking for more affordable winter fun? Sign up for our weekly email newsletter and you’ll receive our weekend event guide which is chalk full of great family-friendly events and activities, many free!

By: Michelle Hughes

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