I am on a roll with all these winter shows and festivals that I have been visiting this year. Majority of them were my first time to boot, so tonight I was crossing another one off the list.

I have been to Van Dusen a handful of times prior to, visited for all sorts of reasons and for all sorts of different events. So was never really just there for the plant life, with the goal of fully taking them in. So when planning for tonight, I figured I would get that chance now, however it was the same as always, something takes my attention away from the nature. Tonight it was the entirety of their “Festival of Lights”.

This was and will probably be the most Christmas lights that I see in one given place this year. And through this festival I learned how spacious the garden grounds are. I would like to come back to visit during the day time in spring. It would be nice to actually see the flora and fauna here all year round, that this garden was actually cultivated for.

The “Festival of Lights” is on now until January 6th. Times vary based on dates with gates consistently opening at 4:30pm. The closer to Christmas the later the hours kept. Purchasing tickets online will save you $1.50 at the door. General admission at the gate is $20. However, tonight there was a line at the gate, pre purchased ticket holders found themselves waiting because they planned ahead, and folks were able to walk right through after paying on the spot. We came right when they opened, planning to blitz through the garden before it got busy, knowing large families with strollers would be plentiful, and we wanted to take as many unobstructed photos as possible. The night came on quick and the parked filled up even faster. We watched blue skies turn black and clear paths slowed by lines and clustered bodies to the sides.

The following are a few of the lights of the event, as we wandered and encountered them. Although naturally there is so much to see and nothing can replace the actual experience, so don’t take my words and the one dimensional photo to heart. But a more thorough look at the event, check out my latest vlog, up on my YouTube channel: MaggiMei.


There is plenty to see, you find yourself repeating trails and discovering new ones as you walk trough the maze. There are a few stopping places along these paths. Paths punctuated with activities to interact with or backdrops and props to take a photo with. Well lit caverns to walk through, light trimmed gazebos to stand under, and play houses to crawl in to.

A tunnel of light.

A walk way with lanterns lining it.

A series of pointed spikes to walk in between.

A gnome’s home and a small town of gingerbread houses.

A muppet-like version of a yeti with pointed teeth and even sharper claws.

Light up domes.

Arch ways to stand in and under.

In “Elfie Woods” (a section of the garden labelled that) there were mushrooms and flowers in light.

And elves of the shelves gathered collectively in bird houses abandoned for the season.

If you come early and know where you want to go, you can get a few photos in with just you in the frame. However don’t expect that to be the case overall, as you will photobomb a dozen photos and have yours obstructed a dozen more. Some attractions see people forming lines and taking photos in turns. While some folks saw the entire park as open ground and that you or anyone can’t really expect to have a scene for yourself, thus pushing their way through.

“Dancing Lights” is a series of light that blink and flash in tune to a mix of winter melodies. They play across the Livingstone Lake, every 20 minutes.

At the “Make-A-Wish® – Candle Grotto”, volunteers collect donations for the charity that arranges experiences described as “wishes” to children diagnosed with critical illnesses. Each donation collected, lights and adds a candle to fill the grotto space. I imagine it is quite the sight once a handful is donated.

“Recycled rhythms” is a collection of musical makeshift instruments. With wooden sticks you tap, hit, and strum your way around a tent. Hanging wood sticks, metal pipes, plastic rods, dangling bells, and suspended cymbals.

At the “Tinsel tunes” tent you can showcase your musical talent by tickling the ivory.

The “Carousel” gives kids of all ages a spin on colour animals.

At “Santa’s Cabin” anyone can queue for a photo with Santa. There is no additional cost to do so, as it is included with your ticket price.

The “Fireside Lounge” gives visitors a covered area and fire pits to stay dry and be warm under. Here you can order some mulled wine or spiked hot chocolate.

Other stalls offered mixed nuts and popcorn. And I got a pretzel from yet another.

For something more hearty the garden grounds hosted four food trucks. Mini doughnuts, Japanese style hot dogs, sandwiches and burgers made with a bannock twist, and warming bowls of soup.

Overall the event is less any one spectacle, and more about the collective of lights as a whole. The mass amount of them is what makes this showcase most impressive.


VAN DUSEN Festival of Lights
5251 Oak Street, Vancouver BC, V6M 4H1