Christmas time is over for 2007, but the following reviews of some of the Christmas activities that took place during that period might help you decide which one you’d like to try in 2008:

1. Christmas at Canada Place

Conveniently located near the Waterfront SkyTrain for easy access to the general public, this exhibit shows a variety of intricate displays along the “Woodward’s Windows” on the inside, while the exterior part lining up the “Holiday Promenade” consists mostly of theme-decorated Christmas trees made by local organizations and businesses.

Unfortunately, although the displays themselves were quite elaborate, the linear route left very little room for the holiday spirit to seep into us.  My visit was over rather quickly, as Canada Place is not that big to start with either.

Location: Canada Place
Cost: Free

Santa's Little Helper

Reindeer and Canada Geese?

Santa's Workshop

2. Lights of Hope at St-Paul’s Hospital

Located in the heart of downtown Vancouver, the “Lights of Hope” display is just that, a display, but a very large and colorful one at that.  And taking into account that it is for a good cause (funds go towards buying new equipment for the hospital, thus providing better care for the patients), the few minutes it takes to appreciate the lights is still worth the detour.

Location: St-Paul’s Hospital
Cost: Free

Lights of Hope

10 Years Running


3. Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden

The most elaborate of the five reviewed here; the only one that is a paying one too; but I’d say it’s worth every penny.  The moment you enter VanDusen Botanical Garden, you are literally surrounded by Christmas lights of all kinds everywhere!  The garden’s ponds also complement the lights very nicely.  This is a very sought after Christmas event as people were swarming all around the site throughout the evening.  Aside from the ever-present Christmas lights, there were also a few other activities on site: the “Dancing Lights” show was somewhat disappointing to me, as the “dance” was only a shutting on and off of lights synchronized to some music; there was also a magician performing some basic magic tricks that was nonetheless a huge success with the kids; the interaction between the magician and the kids made the show that much more enjoyable.  I had a good laugh and the magician gave a good show.

Location: VanDusen Botanical Garden
Cost: too many options :p

Fountain Splash

Gingerbread House

Bouquet of Flowers

4. Bright Nights at Stanley Park

Another free event, this one was quite impressive too.  Lots of lights crammed into a tight, but well thought of area of Stanley Park.  Displays are colorful as they should, quite elaborate too.  For those who prefer to have some space for themselves, it might be wise to avoid “rush hour” though (let’s pretend it’s officially from 6:30PM to 8:00PM).  An optional train ride (not free) through some Christmas-themed areas can be enjoyed too.

Location: Stanley Park
Cost: Free (optional train ride (2007 prices): $7.50 for adults, $4.50 for kids)

Christmas Figurines

Christmas Pond

A Christmas Carol

5. Roger’s Santa Claus Parade

Just go back to my article on the St Patrick’s Day Parade…

Haha… All joking aside, the usual suspects were back: The criss-crossing police motorcycles starting the show, the Vancouver police marching band not too far behind, bagpipes, Work Safe BC (who thankfully traded their usual propaganda for chocolates this time around), etc.  Although this parade had its so-so moments too, it did feel more alive than the previous St Paddy’s Day one.  Musical numbers were varied, so were the costumes, and the floats were much more elaborate for this parade.

Location: Downtown Vancouver
Cost: Free

Snow Queen

Christmas Carol

The Gift of Christmas

For those of you who need specific ratings for these events in order to decide where to go, here are my picks, in order of preference:

1. Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden
2. Bright Lights at Stanley Park
3. Rogers’ Santa Claus Parade
4. Lights of Hope at Saint-Paul’s Hospital
5. Christmas at Canada Place

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    • Thanks! I use a Nikon D80, with an 18mm-200mm VR lens. My camera is set up to add extra saturation and some more contrast by default. Finally, I do some post-processing using the freeware IrfanView, too, if needed.

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