Step out of the last-minute din and into the calm of St. Andrew’s Wesley Church for Christmas Eve Jazz Vespers, a favourite annual event where We Three Queens – jazz divas Karin Plato, Kate Hammett-Vaughan and Jennifer Scott – perform traditional hymns and carols, popular Christmas songs, audience singalongs and holiday favourites from around the globe, then round out the evening with a stirring candlelight rendition of Silent Night. All funds raised go to charity (Saturday at 4 p.m., standrewswesleychurch.bc.ca).
Hard Rock Miners Singalong
For a decidedly more rock ’n’ roll Christmas Eve, join holiday orphans, dysfunctional family escapees and happy revelers for an alcohol-fueled Christmas Eve singalong led by veteran Vancouver band the Hard Rock Miners (8 p.m. until midnight Saturday, therailwayclub.com).
Vancouver Christmas Market
Want a last-minute gift that doesn’t say “This is a last-minute gift”? Head for the Vancouver Christmas Market, where you can still pick up handmade jewellery, beautiful glassware, colourful soaps, exotic teas, fair trade clothes and housewares, fun kids toys and artisan chocolates – including hand-rolled brandy truffles and tangy passion fruit Merlions (Saturday until 6 p.m., vancouverchristmasmarket.com).
Fairmont Empress Hotel
Add a little opulence to your yuletide season at the Fairmont Empress Hotel, where you can hear about famous guests and noteworthy events on a special Christmas Past and Present tour of the historic landmark, enjoy holiday goodies at a Festive Afternoon Tea, and treat the kids to hot chocolate and storytelling by Mrs. Claus on Christmas Eve. Then on the big day, indulge in a gourmet breakfast buffet, or a festive five-course dinner with live entertainment (fairmont.com/empress).
Canucks vs. Oilers
Skip the Boxing Day madness and fill your holiday with “Looos” as the Sedins, Burrows, Kesler, Bieksa, Luongo and the rest of the Vancouver Canucks (hopefully) continue their winning ways at home against the Edmonton Oilers (at Rogers Arena Monday, canucks.nhl.com). On Tuesday, cheer on the Vancouver Giants as they take on the Kamloops Blazers (at the Pacific Coliseum, ticketmaster.ca).
Dreaming of a white Christmas? Head for Big White Ski Resort outside Kelowna for a special Christmas Eve appearance from Santa before he hits the skies, as well as a beautiful mountainside torchlight procession, a village parade and colourful fireworks (bigwhite.com); or catch a torchlight parade and fireworks at Silver Star, just a couple hours down the road (skisilverstar.com). Want to stick closer to the big city? Take the Skyride up Grouse Mountain and enjoy an afternoon concert by the VOC Sweet Soul Gospel Choir (Saturday from 1-3 p.m., grousemountain.com).
See a favourite children’s story come to life as Ballet Victoria presents a holiday production of Cinderella and the Fairy Tale Ball (until Dec. 30, balletvictoria.ca). For more classic storylines, catch A Child’s Christmas in Wales – Vox Humana’s annual presentation of Dylan Thomas’ beloved Christmas tale, read by Welshman Melville Jones and accompanied by carols (at Fairfield United Church in Victoria Saturday at 2:30 p.m., voxhumanachoir.ca), or watch the hills come alive with The Sound of Music at the Gateway in Richmond (until Dec. 31, gatewaytheatre.com).
Sing Your Song
Not up for the blockbuster-sized movie lineups on Boxing Day? Head for Vancity Theatre, where you’ll find Sing Your Song, a film fest favourite about singer Harry Belafonte’s dogged fight for civil rights in Africa and around the globe. Then stick around for Carmen Jones, Otto Preminger’s take on the Oscar Hammerstein version of Bizet’s Carmen – also starring Belafonte along with Dorothy Dandridge, who became the first black woman ever nominated for an Oscar (Dec. 26-29, viff.org).