Travel Blog

10 Dec

Festival of Lights now open at VanDusen Botanical Garden

Remy gave us the lowdown on the top 5 holiday light displays in Vancouver including the much-anticipated annual Festival of Lights, open December 9 to January 2, at VanDusen Botanical Garden. For Vancouverites, peeping VanDusen’s Festival of Lights is a Christmas tradition as essential as cookie baking and carol singing. The verdant Vancouver hideaway is transformed into festive, twinkly eye candy with 1.4 million bulbs, most of them now energy-saving LED.

The Festival of Lights also features daily shows including Dancing Lights on Livingstone Lake, Santa at Santa’s Living Room and choir concerts. Get the details after the jump.

Sparkle overview

When you wander the glowing garden you’ll see that the gajillion lights (1.4 million to be exact) adorning the foliage have been intricately arranged and choreographed by a devoted team of gardeners/designers. As a result, the Festival of Lights includes jaw-droppers like the Dancing Lights shows–carefully orchestrated flickering that rivals fireworks–and creatively lit walkways including an enlarged Gingerbread Wood (3x the size of last year) and Candy Cane Lane.

Dancing Lights on Livingstone Lake: starting at 4:30 p.m. daily

There are two Dancing Light shows—one show on the half hour and a different one at the top of the hour, repeating in sequence throughout the evening. The one at the half  hour (4:30, 5:30, etc.) is set to traditional arrangements of seasonal carols. The show at the top of the hour (5, 6, etc.) is set to Glee and will knock your socks off. The last Dancing Lights performance is at 9 p.m. every night.

Santa’s Living Room: Dec. 9 – 24, with Santa appearances 5:30, 6:30, 7:30, 8:30 p.m.

Santa’s a busy guy, but he’s made time to appear four times daily at the Festival of Lights. After you bend his ear with your wish list, head next door to Mrs Claus’ Kitchen and warm up with a mug of hot chocolate paired with a treats like kettle corn or her fresh-baked apple-walnut-cranberry turnovers.

Svend and Jens

Svend and Jens, Scandinavian Christmas elves (also called julenissen) will appear nightly in the Centre Court. In Scandinavian tradition, these guys aren’t magnanimous grandpa figures like St. Nick. They’re naughty gnomes with a red peaked cap that demand a bowl of sweet porridge on Christmas Eve. In return, you get good luck for the year.

Community choir concerts on the Deck

Stroll and enjoy tunes from live choral talent every night. The nightly schedule is available here.

Festival of Lights for foodies

In addition to the option of a posh sit-down dinner at Shaughnessy Restaurant (reservations recommended) there’s plenty of casual, seasonal fare scattered around. Dr. Waffle is serving up fresh-made sweet and savoury waffles, home-made chicken soup and real apple cider. Mrs Claus’ Kitchen next to Santa’s Living Room is open, as I mentioned above. Dr. Waffle’s Gingerbread Hut has giant, peppery-sweet German gingerbread cookies and spiced nuts. Save room for Mr. Ken’s Donuts, a perennial fave in the Perennial Garden. There’s also Whistler Wood-Fired  Pizza Company pizzas by the slice and whole, baked on site.

Schedule tickets

The VanDusen Festival of Lights, a Vancouver Christmas tradition, runs 4:30 to 9 p.m. every night, December 9, 2011 through January 2, 2012, except December 25th when the Garden is closed. You can buy tickets in advance at TicketsTonight, the Garden Shop at the park, or just get your tickets at the gate. Adults (19-65) are $13.50; 
seniors (65+) and youth (13-18) are $10; children (3-12) are $7.50
; children under age 3 are free
; families (2 adults + 2 children age 18 and under) are $31.

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