I love being outside. But when the sun starts setting at 3:30pm, it can be difficult to enjoy the outdoors. I recently discovered a few stunning light displays that brighten up Vancouver’s dark evenings. The best part? They’re not even expensive!
With Christmas behind us, the looming months of winter might start to seem unbearable. Get outside and enjoy these spectacular lights, and hopefully you’ll start to feel warm and fuzzy inside—even in the rain.
1. Stanley Park Bright Nights
If you haven’t ridden the Polar Express Christmas train in Stanley Park, January 1st is your last chance! The miniature train fits two adults side-by-side (even us tall folk). Tickets are only $12. Yes, the line is long, and you’ll likely have to wait twenty minutes or so. But in my opinion, the experience of looping around the forest looking at dazzling Christmas lights and iconic characters from holiday films accompanied by gleeful music was totally worth it. For those who don’t receive joy from riding a themed train (who are you?!), you can still explore the tunnel of lights, decorated trees and Christmas-themed displays in Stanley Park. Admission is by donation to the Firefighter’s Burn Fund. Grab a delicious cone of fried dough and hot apple cidre to make this a cozy date.
2. VanDusen Festival of Lights
Although the most expensive, this is also the most dazzling light display I’ve seen in Vancouver—and possibly anywhere. It was easy to get lost in the expansive garden covered in twinkling lights that ranged from umbrellas and rain to a pink cave to a musical show flashing the word “Joy.”
But best of all, there wasn’t an extra charge for activities like riding the carousel and taking photos with Santa. My friends and I gleefully did both, as did many other adults (fun isn’t just for kids!). I also purchased a new toque with removable bobbles from a craft maker at the market and took several glow-up photos in the tunnel of lights. All this is only $19 until January 5th.
3. Bloedel Conservatory Festivale Tropicale
My kind of winter involves palm trees and surf boards! Step out of the chill and into the tropics at the Bloedel Conservatory until January 5th. Christmas lights create a peaceful oasis, punctuated by the screams of small children and squawks of flying birds. I recommend arriving before sunset to see the birds and staying until after dark to see the lights, as it’s difficult to see both at once.
Inside, you’ll trace a short loop that leads past unique flora and showcases tropical birds. Be careful not to kick any birdies that have found their way onto the path. Admission is free with a visit to VanDusen or costs around $6. Round out your evening with a Sunday roast dinner at Season in the Park and soak in the view of the city from Queen Elizabeth Park.
Is it starting to feel a little brighter yet?