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What to Do in Vancouver: VanDusen’s Festival of Lights

One of my family’s favourite holiday traditions is to explore the Festival of Lights at VanDusen Gardens. The lights are bright and beautiful, and the garden has a completely different feel when covered in thousands of twinkling bulbs. Every year it’s near the top of our list of what to do in Vancouver during the Christmas season.

what to do in vancouver holiday traditions VanDusen Festival of Lights

What to do in Vancouver: Check out the Festival of Lights

When we visit the Festival of Lights we spend at least an hour looking at the displays, taking pictures, watching the dancing lights and generally exploring all the event has to offer including:

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  • Santa’s Living Room: It runs through December 24, 2012 with Santa appearances 5:30, 6:30, 7:30 and 8:30 pm.
  • Svend and Jens, the Scandinavian Christmas Elves, appearing nightly in the Centre Court.
  • Dancing Lights on Livingstone Lake starting at 4:30pm. There are two different shows – one show on the half hour and a different one at the top of the hour. Both shows repeat in sequence throughout the evening.
  • Gingerbread Wood
  • Golden Chain Walk
  • Community Choirs on the Entrance Plaza
  • Make-a-Wish Candle Shrine
  • Candy Cane Lane
  • Sparkling Spruce in the Centre Court
  • Candy Cane Express model train
  • Make-A-Wish ‘Room of Joy’ with Winter Wonderland by Vancouver Lego Club


My favourite thing is being able to take so many beautiful pictures. I bring my tripod and head to my favourite spots near the water. From that vantage point not only do you get the lights, but you also get the incredible reflections. My boys love to take in the dancing lights and visit with Santa Claus and the Scandinavian Christmas elves, but every year my oldest’s favourite place is the Make a Wish Candle Shrine. He loves the quiet, the candles and that the donations go to help sick kids get the wish of a lifetime. It’s truly one of my family’s favourite holiday traditions. If you’ve never been to the festival I suggest adding it to your list of what to do in Vancouver this holiday season.

How to Get Tickets

Tickets for the Festival of Lights can be purchased at the gate, online at Tickets Tonight, or in person at the Admissions desk. The Festival of Lights runs daily until January 1, 2013, except for Christmas Day. You can purchase food in the gardens, but all the outside venues take cash only, so be prepared.

Do you count the VanDusen Festival of Lights among your favourite holiday traditions? Be sure to drop by You Say: Share Your Vancouver Holiday Traditions and let us know.

VanDusen Botanical Gardens | Twitter | Facebook
5251 Oak Street, Vancouver

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