December is winter in British Columbia. There's a lot of variation in climate across the large province, from north to south, the coast to mountains: northern, inland, and mountainous areas are typically colder than the wetter coastal regions. December in British Columbia ranges from cool and damp on the southern coast to bitterly cold in northern and mountainous areas.
Vancouver, on the southwestern coast, stays relatively mild in December, with a minimum temperature of 36°F (2°C) and a maximum of 43°F (6°C). Inland areas are colder and see snow. For example, Kelowna, in inland southern British Columbia, has a minimum of 25°F (-4°C) and a maximum of 34°F (1°C). Meanwhile, northern areas are extremely cold; Fort Nelson, in northeastern British Columbia and at roughly the same latitude as Juneau, Alaska, has a minimum of -6°F (-21°C) and a maximum of 7°F (-14°C).
Crowds & Costs
December is the peak season for skiing and other winter sports in resort towns in the Rocky Mountains of British Columbia and Alberta and greater Vancouver. In popular resorts—such as Whistler, Revelstoke, and Kicking Horse—it's important to book accommodation in advance. This is particularly true if you're traveling toward the end of the month when many people take Christmas and New Year vacations. Expect to pay high prices for accommodation and transport to such areas.
The Christmas-to-New-Year holiday period is often booked solid at the top ski resorts. Still, good deals are available in the periods just before and after the rush, especially earlier in December, when the ski season is just kicking into gear. Many summer resorts and attractions in the interior are closed during the winter months, but coastal destinations offer great deals for visitors.
Where to Go
Vancouver is a good base for travel in December. As well as having milder temperatures, the city is near many excellent ski resorts in the mountains, such as Whistler, Grouse Mountain, and Cypress Mountain, among other popular ski destinations. When you're not hitting the slopes, enjoy Vancouver's city attractions, including the Museum of Anthropology and the Vancouver Aquarium, as well as its diverse culinary scene.
Keen skiers, in particular, should check out Whistler Blackcomb, one of the largest ski areas in North America. It hosted the 2010 Winter Olympics and now offers extreme ski terrain and family-friendly hills where the kids can take lessons. Its Peak-to-Peak Gondola is the longest and highest gondola of its kind in the world, and you don't have to be skiing to enjoy a scenic ride.
In another part of the province, the Powder Highway circles the Kootenay and Selkirk Mountains and provides access to heli-ski operations with notable ski resorts. Revelstoke, Fernie, and Kicking Horse have big vertical drops, lots of powder snow, and fun ski town atmospheres for those après-ski parties.
What to Do
Aside from snow sports, you can marvel at the wintry power of nature in Tofino on the wind-swept western shores of Vancouver Island. The town has become a popular storm-watching destination in winter. Marvel at the giant ocean swells and massive rain squalls from the comfort of a cozy beachfront lodge with picture windows as you sit by a warm fire with perhaps a glass of local British Columbia wine in hand.
If you're spending time in the Vancouver area this month, make the most of the city's Christmas and New Year festivities. Attend atmospheric light shows at the Christmas Glow festival in Langley, the Canyon Lights at the Capilano Suspension Bridge in North Vancouver, or the VanDusen Festival of Lights at the beautiful VanDusen Botanical Garden. The Vancouver Christmas Market also typically runs until Christmas Eve. Numerous New Year's Eve parties are also held, including boat parties on yachts, live music venues in Gastown, downtown hotels, and elsewhere.
Events in December
Christmas, provincewide. December 25 is a public holiday in Canada. Numerous markets, light festivals, and other Christmas events are held in towns and cities throughout British Columbia.
New Year's Eve, provincewide. Join any number of parties throughout British Columbia on New Year's Eve and then sleep in the next day, as January 1 is a public holiday in Canada.