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9 Places to See Holiday Lights in Vancouver

Local Gardens, Trees, and Even Ships are Decorated for the Christmas Season

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See strings of LED lights in giant elms, watch ships lit up in the harbor, or wander through ambling gardens of holiday displays. Vancouver offers many free and low-cost opportunities to see holiday lights -- for some, an essential part of the seasonal spirit.

Some holiday light displays also double as great Christmas attractions with Santa Claus visits and winter activities.

Where to See Vancouver Holiday Lights:

1. Festival of Lights, VanDusen Botanical Garden

© Chloë Ernst

As dusk sets in, the plants, trees, paths, and decorations at VanDusen Botanical Garden glow with impressive holiday light displays. There are even light shows set to music.

Dates: Mid-December to early January
Address: 5251 Oak St. (at West 37th Ave.)
Phone: 604-257-8335

2. Burrard Street

© Chloë Ernst

Two major light displays brighten Vancouver's Burrard Street, cheering afternoon commuters as the days shorten and dusk arrive earlier. The large Sheraton Wall Centre courtyard is lit with thousands of blue-white lights in the trees. A block south, at Helmcken Street, the Lights of Hope are an eye-catching fundraiser at historic St. Paul's Hospital.

Location: Burrard Street between Nelson and Helmcken

3. Bright Nights in Stanley Park

The lights number two million at this city-run attraction, and you'll get to see them all by riding the miniature train.

Dates: Early December to early January
Address: Stanley Park, off Pineline Rd.
Phone: 1-855-985-5000 (tickets)
Hours: Hours vary throughout the season

4. Capilano Suspension Bridge

© Chloë Ernst

Lights decorate the 122 m (400 ft.) suspension bridge, the daring Cliffwalk, and the ancient trees in the park.

Dates: Late November/early December to early January
Address: 3735 Capilano Rd.
Phone: 604-985-7474

5. Carol Ships Parade of Lights

For more than 50 years, Vancouver boats have decorated their decks with holiday lights. Each night the boats take a different route, so check the schedule for a specific date. The Lions Gate Bridge is a great spot to catch the flotilla, and many Vancouver boat tours join the water parade.

Dates: Early to mid-December
Location: Various, including the Lions Gate Bridge, Canada Place, English Bay, False Creek, Science World, West Vancouver, and Deep Cove

6. Winter Solstice Lantern Festival

© Chloë Ernst

See delicate paper animals, stars, and other lanterns at this pretty solstice festival, which takes place in a mix of Vancouver neighborhoods.

Address: Various neighborhoods
Dates: December 21

7. Granville Island

© Chloë Ernst

It's not on a grand scale, but a few illuminated decorations make Granville Island look extra lovely around Christmas. Bright snowflakes on the lampposts make for a pretty stroll.

Location: Granville Island

8. Beach Avenue

© Chloë Ernst

Along the seawall at Bidwell Street, tree giants lit with more than 12,000 lights are known as the English Bay's Elm Grove. They are pretty to see up close, or from across False Creek.

Location: Beach Avenue at Bidwell Street

9. George Wainborn Park

© Chloë Ernst

Another city light display sees a giant Sequoia in Yaletown strung with 5,000 holiday lights.

Location: George Wainborn Park, at the southwest end of Richards Street

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