Besides shopping for Christmas gifts and tasting festive dishes at your favourite restaurants, one of the most popular traditions of the season is enjoying holiday lights around town.
There is no shortage of these colourful light installations across Metro Vancouver, which range from the popular Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden to newer additions like Glow Christmas Light Garden and Market in Langley.
We find that that grabbing a cup of hot chocolate or hot apple cider elevates the experience even more—it keeps you warm and toasty amidst the chilly weather.
Here are nine places to enjoy holiday lights around the city.
Stanley Park’s classic holiday tradition returns with three million colourful lights, complete with sparkling reindeers, snowflakes, and trees. Take a ride on the iconic Bright Nights Train to see even more displays and lights, as well as a live performer (on the night train). Admission to the event is by donation, and train tickets can be purchased online. A portion of the ticket sales and entrance donations go toward the B.C. Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.
Where: On Pipeline Road in Stanley Park, via the West Georgia Street park entrance.
When: Through January 5, 2019 with various hours; closed on December 25.
Known as a Winter Lights Festival, guests can expect hundreds of thousands of lights that transform this popular summer attraction into a twinkling oasis for the holiday season. The suspension bridge, Treetops Adventure, Cliffwalk, rainforest, and canyon are all covered in bright lights. Once again the 30-ton decorated Douglas firs are the stars of the show, which are the tallest Christmas trees in the world. Besides being enchanted by lights, check out the Snowy Owl Prowl, decorate gingerbread cookies (by donation), or sing along with the holiday band. Tickets can be purchased online.
Where: Capilano Suspension Bridge, 3735 Capilano Road, North Vancouver.
When: Through January 27, 2019 from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed on December 25.
With over one million lights decorating this garden, your breath will be taken away by the spectacular views—think glistening lake water and trees. Highlights include the dancing lights synchronized to music on Livingstone Lake, Santa's cabin, a new fireside lounge for specialty beverages, as well as the classic carousel. Tickets can be purchased online.
Where: VanDusen Botanical Garden, 5251 Oak Street
When: Through January 6, 2019 with various hours; closed on December 25.
Explore 95,000-square-feet of festive fun at this massive indoor holiday attraction in Langley. This year's event has a new theme: Glow Around the World. Visitors will find impressive lighted sculptures of iconic landmarks, and can get their "Glow Passport" stamped at each stop to earn a surprise. Kids’ activities including a trackless train will be on-site, and LED swings, a garden centre, and food and beverage vendors are also on offer. Tickets can be purchased online.
Where: Milner Village Garden Centre, 6690 216th Street, Langley.
When: Through January 19, 2019 with various hours.
For those who wish to embark on old-fashioned holiday fun, check out Heritage Christmas at Burnaby Village Museum. The streets of the village are covered with 1920s-style lights, accompanied by cedar wreaths and big red bows. There’s an interactive attraction at the bandstand, which allows visitors to create their own magical holiday show with lights that change colours to sound. Theatre performances, family-friendly activities, and photo opportunities with Santa are also available. Gate admission is free, and carousel rides are $2.65 each.
Where: Burnaby Village Museum, 6501 Deer Lake Avenue, Burnaby
When: Through January 4, 2019 with various hours; closed December 24 and 25.
The Lower Mainland’s largest free outdoor lights display is located at Coquitlam’s Town Centre Park, which can be easily accessed via the Evergreen Line. There are 10-themed zones at this festive attraction in the suburbs, which feature 100,000 twinkling lights. New to this year's event is the singing tree: a large Oak tree with interactive lights that respond to sounds like clapping and singing. In addition to the illuminations, the park also offers activities such as a dance party, scavenger hunts, and singing along to Jingle Bells with other caroling groups.
Where: Town Centre Park, 1299 Pinetree Way, Coquitlam
When: Through January 20, 2019, from dusk to 11 p.m.
The Peak of Christmas is an annual festive celebration that takes place on Grouse Mountain, and features many fun activities for the entire brood. The Light Walk is one of them, which invites visitors to stroll through sparkling lights with a snowy backdrop. A light tunnel, lanterns, and other enchanting displays that surround Blue Grouse Lake make this a charming attraction. When you’re finished admiring the lights, check out the iconic skating pond, catch a Christmas movie, or meet Santa’s reindeer. Tickets can be purchased online.
Where: Grouse Mountain, 6400 Nancy Greene Way, North Vancouver
When: Through January 6, 2019 with various hours.
This iconic holiday lights display at St. Paul’s Hospital returns with its annual fundraising campaign, which always manages to stop passerbys. Its mesmerizing installation takes six weeks to build, and features over 10 kilometres of lights, 100,000 bulbs, and hundreds of sponsored stars. Donations to the St. Paul’s Foundation can be made online.
Where: St. Paul’s Hospital, 1081 Burrard Street
When: Through January 7, 2019 from dusk to dawn.
Find a tropical winter paradise at Queen Elizabeth Park’s Bloedel Conservatory, which has been transformed into a family-friendly holiday event filled with exotic species and a seasonal glow. Guests who visit Holiday Heights at Bloedel will find colourful plant displays, lights, music, scavenger hunt with prizes, 17-foot LED fir trees, and gold-feathered ornaments. The indoor event features 120 free-flying birds, including two Australian king parrots that recently joined the lush environment. Regular conservatory admission rates apply. All VanDusen Festival of Lights visitors receive a free ticket to Holiday Heights.
Where: Bloedel Conservatory at Queen Elizabeth Park, off 33rd Avenue between Cambie and Main Street
When: Through January 6, 2019 from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed on December 25.More