VanDusen Festival of Lights – A Magical Lighting Event You Can’t Miss

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Welcome to the enchanting VanDusen Festival of Lights – an event that celebrates the symphony of lights and the holiday season. Come join us for an unforgettable, magical journey.

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Festival highlights

About VanDusen Festival of Lights

The VanDusen Festival of Lights is a magical event celebrated every holiday season. Set within the sprawling 15 acres of the botanical garden, the light festival presents an enchanting experience, starting off with over a million twinkling lights ready to dazzle and mesmerize attendees of all ages. An unmissable holiday event, the VanDusen Festival of Lights is perfect for families and everyone with the desire of experiencing the magic and beauty of Christmas.

The following featured lighting displays are what make the VanDusen Festival of lights extraspecial:

  • Twinkling Trees: Standing tall throughout the garden, these trees are adorned with lights that twinkle like stars, creating a magical forest atmosphere.
  • Fairy Lights: Delicate and ethereal, these lights drape over the foliage, adding a whimsical touch to the garden’s natural beauty.
  • Tunnel of Lights: An immersive experience where visitors can walk through a glowing tunnel, enveloped in a cascade of lights.
  • Plant and Animal Inspired Light Displays: Unique light installations that pay homage to the diverse flora and fauna of BC’s Garry oak meadows.
  • Dancing Lights: Choreographed light shows that move in rhythm, offering a dynamic and engaging visual experience.
  • Themed Light Areas: Various sections of the garden are dedicated to different themes, each presenting a distinct and mesmerizing light display.

Festival Dates

The VanDusen Festival of Lights is a seasonal spectacle that illuminates the winter months, typically running from November through January. While the festival consistently brings joy and wonder during these months, the specific dates for the 2024 season are eagerly anticipated and will be announced in the Fall. 

This period allows visitors to experience the magic of the lights throughout the holiday season and into the new year, making it a not-to-be-missed event on Vancouver’s winter calendar.

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An image inspired by the VanDusen Festival of Lights

Where It’s Located and How to Get There

The enchanting festival of lights is held at the picturesque VanDusen Botanical Garden, located at 5251 Oak Street, at the intersection with West 37th Avenue, in Vancouver, BC, Canada. This beautiful setting provides the perfect backdrop for the festival, offering a serene and natural environment that is transformed into a dazzling wonderland of lights during the event.

The festival location is conveniently situated relative to Vancouver International Airport, offering several options for visitors traveling from the airport to the festival:

  • Taxi or Ride-Sharing Services: A quick and direct way to reach the festival, with a travel time of approximately 20 minutes depending on traffic.
  • Public Transit: Visitors can take the Canada Line SkyTrain from the airport to Oakridge-41st Avenue Station, and then a short bus ride to the garden.
  • Car Rental: For those preferring their own vehicle, car rental services are available at the airport, providing flexibility to explore the city as well.

To reach the VanDusen Festival of Lights from other cities by train, follow these steps:

  • Arrival at Pacific Central Station: Begin your journey by arriving at Pacific Central Station in Vancouver, the main hub for inter-city train travel.
  • Transfer to SkyTrain: From Pacific Central Station, make your way to the nearby Main Street-Science World SkyTrain Station.
  • SkyTrain to Oakridge-41st Avenue Station: Board the SkyTrain on the Canada Line and disembark at Oakridge-41st Avenue Station.
  • Bus Connection: From Oakridge-41st Avenue Station, catch a bus heading west along 41st Avenue to Oak Street.
  • Short Walk to VanDusen Botanical Garden: After alighting the bus at Oak Street, it’s a short walk to the VanDusen Botanical Garden, the location of the festival.

If you liked this festival, you might also want to check these other breathtaking light festivals:

Lewis Ginter Lights

Garden of Morning Calm Lighting Festival

Festival Hours

During its run, the VanDusen Festival of Lights welcomes visitors to immerse themselves in its radiant beauty from 4:00 PM to 10:00 PM. To ensure that guests have ample time to fully enjoy the experience, the last entry is permitted between 8:30 PM and 9:00 PM. 

This scheduling allows visitors to witness the transformation of the garden as daylight fades and the lights begin to truly sparkle, offering a magical evening under the glow of a million twinkling lights.

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An image inspired by the breathtaking beauty of the VanDusen Festival of Lights

How Much Does It Cost to Visit the VanDusen Festival of Lights?

The VanDusen Festival of Lights is a cherished holiday event, and while the ticket prices for the 2024 season are yet to be announced, prospective visitors can get an idea of the cost from the previous year’s pricing. 

In 2023, the festival offered a range of ticket prices catering to different age groups and members. Adult tickets (for ages 19 to 64) were priced at $24, while a discounted rate of $16.50 was available for seniors (65 years and up) and youth (13 to 18 years). 

Members of the Vancouver Botanical Gardens Association (VBGA) with a valid membership card could enjoy an admission fee of $16.25. Tickets for children aged 5 to 12 were $11, and children 4 years and under could attend for free, although a reserved ticket was still required. 

These prices reflect the festival’s commitment to accessibility and enjoyment for all age groups, ensuring that everyone can experience the magic of the lights.

Weather and What to Wear

The weather in Vancouver, Canada, from November to January, is typically characterized by cool temperatures and a mix of rain and occasional snow. November marks the beginning of the cooler weather, with average temperatures ranging from 3°C to 9°C (37°F to 48°F). 

As winter sets in during December and January, temperatures can drop further, averaging between 1°C and 6°C (34°F to 43°F). Although snowfall in Vancouver is not as heavy as in other parts of Canada, occasional snow showers can be expected, especially in January. The city’s coastal location also means that humidity is high, and rain is frequent, making for damp and chilly conditions.

To comfortably enjoy the VanDusen Festival of Lights in this weather, visitors are recommended to wear:

  • Warm Coat or Jacket: A waterproof and insulated coat is essential to stay warm and dry.
  • Layers: Dressing in layers (like thermal wear, sweaters, or fleece) allows flexibility with changing temperatures.
  • Waterproof Boots: Durable, waterproof footwear is crucial, especially if there’s rain or snow.
  • Gloves and Scarf: These provide extra warmth, especially during the evenings when it gets colder.
  • Hat or Beanie: A significant amount of body heat is lost through the head, so a warm hat is important.
  • Umbrella: Given the likelihood of rain, carrying an umbrella is always a good idea.

Where to Sleep – Hotels Nearby

For those attending the VanDusen Festival of Lights and seeking accommodation, there are several hotels nearby that offer a range of amenities and comforts to suit different preferences and budgets.

Holiday Inn Vancouver-Centre (Broadway), an IHG Hotel

  • Location: 711 W. Broadway, Heather St, Vancouver, BC V5Z 3Y2, Canada.
  • Description: A 3-star hotel offering a comfortable stay with convenient access to various city attractions.
  • Amenities:
    • Indoor pool for relaxation and leisure.
    • Complimentary Wi-Fi throughout the hotel.
    • On-site restaurant providing a variety of dining options.

Barclay Hotel

  • Location: 1348 Robson St, Vancouver, BC V6E 1C5, Canada.
  • Description: This 2-star hotel is nestled in a vibrant area, ideal for those looking for an economical yet cozy stay.
  • Amenities:
    • Free Wi-Fi, ensuring guests stay connected.
    • Kid-friendly environment, making it suitable for families.
    • An in-house restaurant serving a range of dishes.

Days Inn by Wyndham Vancouver Downtown

  • Location: 921 W Pender St, Vancouver, BC V6C 1M2, Canada.
  • Description: A 3-star hotel that blends comfort with convenience, located close to downtown attractions.
  • Amenities:
    • Complimentary breakfast to start the day right.
    • Full-service laundry, adding to guest convenience.
    • Restaurant on-site, offering a variety of meal options.

Where to Eat

Exploring the VanDusen Festival of Lights also offers a perfect opportunity to indulge in Vancouver’s diverse culinary scene, with numerous dining options available to satisfy any craving.

Cardero’s Restaurant

  • Location: 1583 Coal Harbour Quay, Vancouver, BC V6G 3E7, Canada.
  • Description: A bustling seafood restaurant known for its stunning marina-side patio and cozy ambiance, perfect for both casual meals and special occasions.
  • Foods Served:
    • Prawn Sizzle and Crispy Brussel Sprouts, highlighting the restaurant’s flair for combining classic and innovative flavors.
    • Offers a happy hour menu, a warm fireplace setting, and a reputation for serving great cocktails.

Blue Water Cafe

  • Location: 1095 Hamilton St, Vancouver, BC V6B 5T4, Canada.
  • Description: Esteemed for its exceptional seafood and upscale dining experience, this restaurant boasts outdoor seating and a private dining room for intimate gatherings.
  • Foods Served:
    • Dungeness Crab and Shrimp Cake, Alberta Beef Tenderloin, and Carrot Soup, showcasing a blend of local ingredients and culinary excellence.
    • Known for its great cocktails and sophisticated atmosphere.

Chambar Restaurant

  • Location: 568 Beatty St, Vancouver, BC V6B 2L3, Canada.
  • Description: An elegant dining spot offering a chic, exposed-brick setting where guests can enjoy Belgian-inspired cuisine alongside sustainable seafood options.
  • Foods Served:
    • Le Canard and Le Thon Colombien, representing the restaurant’s commitment to creative and sustainably sourced dishes.
    • Features outdoor seating, a private dining area, and a curated selection of beer and wine.

More Things to Do in the Area

After marveling at the VanDusen Festival of Lights, visitors can further enrich their experience by exploring more attractions in the vibrant city of Vancouver.

Stanley Park

  • Location: Vancouver, BC V6G 1Z4, Canada.
  • Description: A magnificent 405-hectare public park, Stanley Park is renowned for its vast green spaces, scenic seawall, and diverse ecosystems.
  • Activities to Explore:
    • Walk, bike, or rollerblade around the famous Seawall.
    • Visit the totem poles and learn about Indigenous cultures.
    • Enjoy the beaches, gardens, and the Stanley Park Pavilion.

Vancouver Aquarium

  • Location: 845 Avison Way, Vancouver, BC V6G 3E2, Canada.
  • Description: Located within Stanley Park, the Vancouver Aquarium is a leading marine science center dedicated to the conservation of aquatic life.
  • Activities to Explore:
    • Discover a wide range of marine species in interactive exhibits.
    • Participate in educational talks and aquatic animal encounters.
    • Explore the 4D theater and special exhibitions.

Science World

  • Location: 1455 Quebec St, Vancouver, BC V6A 3Z7, Canada.
  • Description: Science World, housed in an iconic geodesic dome, offers a plethora of interactive and educational exhibits to spark curiosity across all ages.
  • Activities to Explore:
    • Engage with hands-on exhibits and live science demonstrations.
    • Watch captivating films in the OMNIMAX Theatre.
    • Participate in science workshops and community events.

A Final Sparkle: Wrapping Up Your Unforgettable Visit to VanDusen Festival of Lights

The VanDusen Festival of Lights stands as a beacon of the holiday spirit in Vancouver, inviting visitors to immerse themselves in a world aglow with over a million lights. It’s an event where magic is real, and the winter night comes alive with colors and festivities. Families, friends, and loved ones gather here, creating memories that last a lifetime. Truly, this festival is a must-see highlight of the season.

FAQ

Is there parking available at the VanDusen Festival of Lights?

Yes, limited parking is available at VanDusen Botanical Garden, including designated spots for those with disabilities. Visitors are encouraged to use public transportation or carpool due to high demand during the festival.

Can I smoke or vape at the festival?

Smoking and vaping are strictly prohibited within the grounds of VanDusen Botanical Garden to ensure a safe and enjoyable environment for all visitors.

Are pets allowed at the VanDusen Festival of Lights?

Pets are not permitted within the garden during the festival, with the exception of certified service animals.

Is the festival accessible for wheelchairs and strollers?

Yes, the festival is accessible for both wheelchairs and strollers. However, visitors should be aware that some paths may be more challenging to navigate due to natural terrain and weather conditions.

Are there food and drink options available at the festival?

A variety of food and beverage options are available throughout the garden, including food trucks and stands offering seasonal treats and warm drinks.

Can I purchase tickets at the door, or do I need to book in advance?

It is highly recommended to purchase tickets in advance due to the popularity of the event. Tickets can be sold out on peak nights, and advance purchase ensures entry.

What should I do if I lose something at the festival?

If you lose an item during your visit, please contact the festival’s lost and found services, typically located at the entrance or information booth.

Is photography allowed at the festival?

Photography for personal use is encouraged at the festival. However, the use of drones or professional photography equipment may require prior approval from the festival organizers.

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An image inspired from the VanDusen Festival of Lights

Sources:

https://vancouver.ca/parks-recreation-culture/festival-of-lights.aspx 

https://vancouversbestplaces.com/top-attractions/vandusen-gardens/festival-of-lights/

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