Vancouver must be one of the world's most underwhelming places to be on New Year's Eve. For a city of its size, it's pretty sad.
There are no free public celebrations and no fireworks. There is nowhere where people come and gather at midnight.
Yes, that's right.
Typically there are 3 choices you can make on New Year's.
1. You can buy tickets to a New Year's Eve event held at a local nightclub, hotel, restaurant, yacht, casino, or a special venue. For example, the nightclubs all along Granville Street would have their own special events, but those tickets are generally overpriced and they tend to sell out well in advance. Likewise, you'd want to make reservations as soon as possible if you were hoping to dine out at a restaurant. Then, every year there tends to be a massive party at a larger venue like BC Place, Science World, or even the Vancouver Aquarium. But again, you'd want to buy your tickets earlier rather than later.
Special events will always be advertised in the local arts & entertainment newspaper, The Georgia Straight, or you could check the club listings online at ClubZone or Clubvibes.
2. You can befriend some locals and get invited to their New Year's Eve house party. I find that local house parties tend to be more fun than going to a special event on New Year's. They can often reach epic proportions! I'd argue that the majority of locals go to house parties as opposed to special events.
3. You can scrap Vancouver and head up to Whistler instead. Though accommodation is astronomical in Whistler at New Year's, it definitely has more of a vibrant atmosphere because they actually have a public gathering. Not only that, but Whistler's full of Aussies on work visas, and they know how to party!