Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Gardens Festival of Lights

vandusen-walkway-around-lakeWith our kids approaching their mid 30’s, it has been way too many years since we visited the plethora of Christmas light attractions, in and around Metro Vancouver. However, this year we have a number of reasons to get out the house and enjoy the light displays. My dad is visiting from Scotland, our daughter-in-law is spending her first Christmas in Canada and our grandson is almost 2 yrs old. All great reasons to play tourist in our own backyard.

Many have said Vancouver is a no fun city, but in our experience, we could not disagree more, as we thoroughly enjoyed most of the attractions.

VanDusen Gardens

Our DIL is off Tuesdays, so the first Tuesday in December, we headed down to Vancouver on a bitterly cold late afternoon, arriving at VanDusen Gardens to find 2″ of snow and the temperature about -2C. The Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Gardens opened December 1st and runs until January 2nd. Admission prices are very reasonable at about $18 (adults), $14 (seniors) and under 3 free.

Festival of Lights map

All wrapped up for the cold, on departing the main building, we headed out onto the patio and were immediately met with a stunning light show on and around the lake. The entire area is ablaze with over 1 million lights of every colour. It is a truly amazing spectacle, and while I tried to capture some great photos, unfortunately the camera just doesn’t fully capture the panorama of lights and music.


Lights around the lake from the patio, with the fuzzy reflections caused by the thin ice forming on the lake surface

From the end of the lake we turned up to the Paris Gardens and the heated story telling room, where our grandson enjoyed a story told by one of the Vancouver librarians.


Paris garden with lots of blue, red & white lights


Lights around the story telling room

After a pleasant break in the heated room for the story telling, we returned to brave the cold and continue our journey around the gardens. We had to miss the carousel this year as our grandson didn’t meet the age or height minimums, so that will definitely be on the agenda for next year.

Once we finished walking the paths around the Paris Gardens and Wonder Tree, we headed back to the lake to resume the trip around. The photo below depicts the scene at the edge of the lake.

vandusen-light-display-at-edge-of-lakeBack to the lake after the Paris Gardens vandusen-walkway-around-lake-2

More lights around the lake

About the mid point of the lake we headed through a light tunnel, which leads away from the lake towards the Make a Wish Foundation booth.


Judi, Heidi & Owen in the light tunnel

Our next stop was at the “Make a Wish” Grotto, where we made a donation, but again our grandson isn’t old enough to be able to light the candle. He and Judi held the candle while the volunteers assisted with the lighting.

At the end of the lake the shoreline was well decked out with lights and they had a sleigh situated on a small island.


Santa’s sleigh with reflections in the water


End of lake with lights on the shore and Santa’s sleigh

The combination of the lights, snow on the ground and reflections on the smooth as glass lake surface provided a spectacular vista, of which the camera only captures a small portion.

At the end of the lake we were starting to feel the cold, especially our grandson, so we followed the path directly back to the main entrance, passing the following sights.



We spent a couple of hours strolling around the gardens and saw about 75%, but we could easily have taken another few hours to truly appreciate the amazing show of lights and activities.

3 thoughts on “Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Gardens Festival of Lights

    • Hello, Andy

      Many thanks for this extravagant post! A very talented photographer you are with this very difficult setting.

      Haven’t been to Van Dusen in a few years and your photos have convinced us to go. Seems a good time, now that it is warmer!

      We wish you, Judy and your family the merriest of


      • Patricia,

        Likewise, it has been many years since we visited. Without the awful snow and freezing temperatures it should be most enjoyable evening.

        Merry Christmas & Happy New Year.


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