Vancouver’s Stanley Park – Bright Nights & Christmas Train

bright-nights-main-entranceStanley Park’s miniature railway, a favourite attraction for kids of all ages, has been a Vancouver icon for over 50-years. Opened in 1964, engine # 374 is a miniature replica of the Canadian Pacific “steamie” engine that pulled the first` cross-country passenger train into Vancouver, in the late 1880’s. The original engine is displayed in the Roundhouse located on the old Expo 86 land on the shores of False Creek.

Bright nights is a seasonal attraction hosted by Vancouver Park Board and BC Professional Firefighter’s Burn Fund. It comprises lighted displays around the station and an amazing light display along the train tracks. Entrance to the station plaza is by donation, while the train requires a ticket purchase, which is highly recommended in advance.

Many years ago, the City of Vancouver implemented paid parking throughout the entire Stanley Park, including all roads. However, during the Bright Lights season, parking is free, at least in the adjacent lots.

To save fighting our way through the city in rush hour traffic, we arrived well before dark, so were provided the additional opportunity of seeing the displays in natural light, as well as lit with Christmas lights. Entry is by donation to the Burn Fund, with a suggestion of at least $4 per person.

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Owen at the first display

 While he started off in the stroller, on seeing the displays he was soon out and running around. Fortunately, it was very quiet, so he could move around, while trying to stay warm in the again bitterly cold sub-zero temperatures.

The following photos are a small selection of some of the displays in the plaza around the train station.

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Judi stopped waiting for our grandson

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Heather & Owen

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Owen

As darkness encroached, the Christmas light display, even around the plaza was amazing.

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Santa and his 9 Reindeer

Being a foggy night, Rudolph is out front leading the team. Unfortunately his red nose had burned out. Will fix the original in Photoshop.

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Station plaza with lights seen from the entrance

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Large reindeer and a few of the displays

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Canadian flag depicted in lights between the trees

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Light tunnel

Our train tickets were for 17:30, so shortly after 17:00 we started wandering in the direction of the station.

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Miniature train waiting at the station

This was the last one to depart before we headed to the queue. At the station, they were still working on the 17:00 tickets, but they had already started a separate queue for 17:30. As soon as the 17:00’s were through, we were asked to move over and the 2nd queue was changed to 18:00. The station holds about 3 train loads, so with departures about every 5 – 8 minutes, the wait times are minimal.

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Waiting for the train

The train ride is a pleasant slow journey through the adjacent park, which is extremely well decorated with lights and displays, on both sides of the track. Preferring to enjoy the company and displays, I didn’t take any photos, which would have been next to impossibly anyway. However, before boarding the train, I did get some photos of the first displays the train passes.

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It has been way to many years since we visited the Christmas train, but will definitely have add it to the calendar, as a new annual event. Even in the bitterly cold night, it can best be described as spectacular. Definitely the best of the 4 attractions we visited this month.

 

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