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Turn up the brightness level on your holiday cheer with these festive light displays around Vancouver
If there’s one thing synonymous with the Christmas season, it’s festive light displays. Every year, millions of twinkling lights illuminate the Lower Mainland, sparkling through trees, strung across homes, ships, trains, and trolleys, and formed into whimsical shapes and creatures.
Whether it’s a casual stroll, quick pop in, or guided tour you’re after, there’s a holiday light display to suit your preference.
Click through to see our top eight picks for the best holiday light displays in Vancouver, Surrey, and the North Shore.
A longtime holiday tradition for many, Bright Nights at Stanley Park runs from Nov. 29 to Jan. 1 and features two million lights, a magical train ride through the trees, and freshly roasted chestnuts. To help smooth the annual rush for train ride tickets, they can now be purchased in advance online. Partial proceeds from the sale of train tickets plus all entry donations go to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, which helps burn survivors and their families.
An enchanting stroll through one of Vancouver’s most idyllic settings, Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden runs from Dec. 7 to Jan. 1 nightly from 4:30 to 9 p.m. A dancing light show on Livingstone Lake, hourly visits from Santa, and community choir concerts make for a festive and entertaining evening.
One of Metro Vancouver’s favourite attractions, the Capilano Suspension Bridge, transforms into a winter wonderland every holiday with its Canyon Lights display. Thousands of twinkling lights adorn the bridge, rainforest and cliffwalk, further enhancing the majestic landscape. Seasonal music, gingerbread cookie decorating, and live glass ornament blowing make the adventure a fun outing for the family.
Having built a cult following over the past 10 years, Surrey’s Lagerstrom family hosts an annual display of tens of thousands of lights outside their home at 15466 91A Ave. With a light show timed to music, the display’s soundtrack is broadcast live on 102.1 FM running (throughout the month of December) nightly at 5 p.m. And in the name of holiday spirit, the Lagerstroms encourage visitors to donate to Camp Goodtimes, a summer camp for children and teens with cancer.
One of Vancouver’s longest running light display traditions, the Carol Ships Parade of Lights has been sailing through Metro Vancouver’s waterways for more than 50 years. A festival that involves the participation of several cruise and charter boat companies, decorated vessels sail a unique route every night from Dec. 1-23. Book your group for a memorable evening onboard, or admire the lights from the shore. The Carol Ships Parade of Lights Society offers a detailed sailing schedule online.
For those looking to multitask during the busy holiday season, Potter’s Christmas Store is your destination. Normally a plant and gardening store, for nine weeks every holiday season, its Surrey location turns into a Christmas-themed megastore. Featuring themed ornaments, decorated garlands, and festive linens, Potter’s offers the largest selection of Christmas items in western Canada. And with an exterior decorated with 22,000 LED lights, it’s as much fun outside as it is inside.
A starry light display illuminates the exterior of St. Paul’s Hospital in downtown Vancouver every Christmas season, encouraging visitors and passersby to give generously to the St. Paul’s Hospital Foundation. The display lights up the hospital on Burrard at Helmcken Street every night until Jan. 7, 2013.
Soak in a full evening of Vancouver’s favourite light displays by hopping on and off a festively attired Vancouver Trolley. Nightly from Dec. 7 – 30, the trolley transports guests from the Vancouver Christmas Market at Queen Elizabeth Theatre through downtown to Bright Nights at Stanley Park, followed by a stop at VanDusen Botanical Gardens. What makes this seasonal tour all the more merry and bright? A Christmas carol sing-along, of course!