Canada Travel Guide |
Home Cities and Regions What to do in Canada Accommodation Airfare to Canada

Best Bet: VanDusen Garden Festival of Lights

For my money, the annual Festival of Lights fundraiser for the VanDusen Botanical Garden is the best holiday experience in Vancouver.

Taking a lesson from the Swedes, who have long understood the power of light to lift the spirit and kindle hope in a dark season, this spectacle represents the ultimate SADS lamp. More than 1.4 million lights in suicide season: need I say more?

Ok, well how about: Santa Claus and Christmas gnomes; “dancing light” pageants and puppet shows; candy canes and carolling.

I go every year–and when my own kids aren’t available, I borrow some littler ones. (This year, my grown daughter is making the pilgrimage with a new flame.)

Yes there are other light shows on offer, but what I like about the Festival of Lights is its broad cross-generational appeal.

This isn’t just for the kiddies or the tourists or the old folks. It works as family time or date night or just a cure for the blues. And you can make it even more festive by taking a meal in the adjacent Shaughnessy restaurant before or after your wanderings.

So if you’re looking to build new holiday traditions, don’t think twice about adding the Festival of Lights to your repertoire.

And if you’re starting to exhibit Scrooge-like tendencies (aka, Seasonal Affective Disorder), this is surely the cure for what ails you.


Dec. 7, 2012 to Jan. 1, 2013 (closed Christmas Day), 4:30 to 9 pm at the VanDusen Botanical Gardens, 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver

Admission (includes GST):

  • Adults: $14.25
  • Seniors (65+) and youth (13-18): $10.50
  • Children (6-12): $7.75
  • Family (2 adults, 2 children under 19): $32.50
  • Buy at the gate or pay a small service charge to Tickets Tonight and buy in advance so you can skip the line-ups.

Related links:

Christmas in Canada: A Festivus Approach

Photo: Courtesy VanDusen Botanical Garden