We asked around, we consulted some experts, and we tallied the results. Here are seven of the best, most authentic, and most awesomely warm and friendly St. Nick’s this side of the Cascades. We’re talking elves, professional photos, pet days, and more. Remember to check your chosen location for the exact times Santa is available.
The Santa at Oakridge Mall consistently comes up as one of Vancouver’s Favourite Santas with legions of repeat visitors. They also have Paws with Claws and special quiet days with Santa for kids who find the whole Santa experience overwhelming.
Nov 18 – Dec 24, 650 west 41st avenue Vancouver
Van Dusen Festival of Lights Santa
Check out VanDusen Festival of Lights, a winter wonderland with over one million lights decorating the beautiful botanical gardens, then stop in to get photos with their old-fashioned realistic Santa, Mrs. Claus, and his elves. Santa will be indoors, next to Shaughnessy Restaurant.
December 1 to 24, from 5 pm to 9 pm
Park Royal Santa got a new home last year designed by Urban Barn in Park Royal South’s west wing, near Simons. If you are looking to beat the rush, use the Park Royal online reservation and photo pre-order system. They even have pet photo days!
November 18 – December 24, 2002 Park Royal S, West Vancouver
Granville Island Kids’ Market
This beloved and authentic Santa has been at the Kids Market for about 25 years. He’s gentle, he sings, plays music, tells stories and apparently he can play chess too! He passes out music-makers bells, rattles, blocks and encourages the children to participate as he leads carols, then quiets them for a Christmas story (no lap-sitting). Daily from 11 am-3:30 pm. Get your shopping done here too with over 25 shops just for kids. Gift wrapping by donation starts mid-December.
December 2 to 24th, Kids Market on Granville Island
Brentwood Town Centre
Great little mall Santa’s Grotto, short line-ups, and kids can blow off steam at the toddler play area afterwards. Also, on Saturdays leading up to Christmas, they have a live DJ, holiday stilt walkers, silk aerialists, tumbling elves show, juggling acts, cotton candy artists, caricature artists, and more!
November 26- December 24, 4567 Lougheed Hwy, Burnaby
Total White Christmas experience. You can visit the reindeer, sleigh ride, and ice skate, but make sure to check out Santa’s Workshop. It’s best to check in at the workshop as soon as you arrive on the mountain to get a photo time slot. (ps, you can also register online for a few Breakfast with Santa dates!)
November 24– December 24, 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver
Metropolis at Metrotown
Santa sits at the centre of the Winter Wonderland at Metrotown, complete with digital game consoles, and a 70-foot column of dancing lights. The unique things with Metrotown is that the photos are by donation (minimum of $2), with all proceeds going to the Burnaby Christmas Bureau. Plus once you sign up, they will text you when it’s your turn for a picture 🙂
November 17 – December 24, 4700 Kingsway, Burnaby
Originally written by Heather Maxwell Hall in 2016 and expanded and updated in 2017