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 -- an essential element to the seasonal spirit for some. Some also double as great Christmas attractions with Santa Claus visits and winter activities.
Where to See Vancouver Holiday Lights:
At 4:30 p.m. the plants, trees, paths, and decorations at VanDusen Botanical Garden glow with impressive holiday light displays.
Dates: Dec. 11, 2013 to Jan. 4, 2014, closed Dec. 25
Address: 5251 Oak St. (at West 37th Ave.)
Hours: Lights from 4:30 to 9 p.m.
Admission: $14.25 adult, $10.50 senior and youth, $7.75 child, $32.50 family
2. Burrard Street
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
The lights number two million at this city-run attraction, and you'll get to see them all by riding the miniature train.
Dates: Dec. 5, 2013 to Jan. 5, 2013, closed Dec. 25
Address: Stanley Park, off Pineline Rd.
Phone: 1-855-985-5000 (tickets)
Hours: Hours vary throughout the season
Admission: $11 adult, $7 youth, seniors, and children
Lights decorate the 122 m (400 ft.) suspension bridge, the daring Cliffwalk, and the ancient trees in the park.
Dates: Nov. 30, 2013 to Jan. 4, 2014, closed Dec. 25
Address: 3735 Capilano Rd.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m., with holiday lights and activities after 4 p.m.
Admission: $65 family rate (2 adults, 2 children)
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: Dec. 1 to 23, 2013
Location: Various, including the Lions Gate Bridge, Canada Place, English Bay, False Creek, Science World, West Vancouver, and Deep Cove
Hours: Nightly, approximately 7 to 10 p.m.
7. Granville Island
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
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