Whether we have snow or not, there is one thing that can't be missing every holiday season besides the many ice-skating rinks and Markets to get you in the festive mood; the colourful decorations all over the city! Vancouver lights up its parks, the shopping centers certainly don't hold back and everyone living in Vancouver and its suburbs wants to have the nicest front yard of the street. Holiday lights are, however, not just about beautiful views and thousands of twinkling lights: they can also serve a good cause by supporting a charity. Where to see the City's most beautiful holiday lights? See a selection of our favourite places in this photo essay!
VanDusen Festival of Lights
Where: VanDusen Botanical Garden, 5151 Oak Street
When: December 1 - January 7
The VanDusen Botanical Garden is worth visiting every time of the year - but it is particularly magical in the winter season! In 1994, a small part of the garden was turned into a beacon of light. Since then, the VanDusen Festival of Lights became the City's most popular and longest running Christmas attraction.
The 15 acres area is decorated with more than one million lights - and not only literally. A group of volunteers check the bulbs each year and it takes months to create this beautiful winter wonderland. This is the perfect place to take beautiful photos, watch the dancing lights show on Livingstone Lake or simply enjoy a walk with a hot drink in your hands. You can also contribute to a good cause by supporting the Make-A-Wish Foundation, which works to grant the wishes of kids with life-threatening illnesses by lighting a candle at the Candle Grotto.
The VanDusen Festival of Lights features several themed areas and runs from December 1 to January 7.
Stanley Park and the Bright Lights
Where: Pipeline Road in Stanley Park, via the West Georgia Street park entrance
When: November 30 - January 6
One of the biggest parks in Vancouver, Stanley Park, lights up with almost three million twinkling lights during the holiday season. Which is really nice, considering how early it gets dark this time of the year! When you enter the park, it feels like you're entering a fairy tale: this is the best place to take children in December to see holiday decorations and illuminations in the Lower Mainland. Some of the popular features are the miniature train with a ride full of breathtaking displays, and live performers along the route, Santa’s Workshop or the craft hut.
Bright Nights has been running at Stanley Park since 1997 annually from the end of November until the beginning of January. Admission is by donation with proceeds benefiting the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund. $1.4 million has been raised to help burn survivors and their families since 1998.
Lights of Hope
Where: St. Paul’s Hospital, 1081 Burrard Street
When: November 16 - January 8
Every year, over 100,000 bulbs and hundreds of sponsored stars illuminate the St. Paul's Hospital as part of Light of Hope, St. Paul's Foundation's campaign raising funds for the hospital’s most immediate patient care and equipment needs. This year marks the 20th anniversary of the campaign that raised more than $31 million since its launch in 1998. The installation opens each year in mid-November with a festive, family friendly launch event featuring fireworks and live entertainment, taking place outdoors the hospital.
Lights of Hope brings hundreds of thousands of visitors to see the beautiful light tunnels and the building lit up with stars from top to bottom. The iconic installation, which is built by volunteers using donated materials, features over 10 kilometres of lights. The Lights of Hope is shining from dusk till dawn until January 8th.
Light a Life - Canuck Place
Where: 1690 Matthews Avenue
When: December 7 - December 31
Canuck Place Children’s Hospice annually lights the hospice and surrounding gardens. by 60,000 lights that are installed over a period of one month. These lights represent the spirit of care and support.
This event has been a wonderful tradition since the Canucks Place opened in 1995 and is a celebration of the donations given towards the hospice's care to children, however, this isn't the only way to get involved: during the holiday season, anyone can contribute to the hospice through the Light a Life campaign.
While the Hospice is decorated to bring joy to the children and families and isn’t open to the public, you can enjoy the lights from outside the gates.
Meet The Photographer: Ricardo Vacas
Ricardo Vacas, owner of the firm Kerp Photography, always showed intense interest in many forms of creative arts. His professional photography career started in his home country, Spain, where he was the official photographer of several music bands, models and clothing brands. He decided to move to Wellington, New Zealand in 2012, knowing his real interest was fashion photography more than any other field. Currently living in Vancouver, Canada, he now combines his fashion, editorial and commercial photography projects with regular trips to Europe and USA.