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10 experiences you need to try at VanDusen Festival of Lights

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Daily Hive Custom Content Dec 01, 2016 4:10 am 4,691

With December finally upon us, it’s time to start breaking out our holiday to-do lists.

We have Christmas shopping and family dinners, work parties and holiday decorating. But we can’t forget to make time for some festive events, like VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights.

This annual holiday light show opens December 1, and it has a ton of awesome attractions and activities that will put some spice into your night out. Whether you want to get some good holiday photos, see a spectacular light show, or interact with a tree more than four-times as tall as you, there’ll be something for everyone.

We’ve put together a list of 10 things you won’t want to miss at this year’s Festival of Lights.

Light a candle at the Make-A-Wish candle grotto

VanDusen Botanical Garden set up the Make-A-Wish candle grotto to help support the Make-A-Wish Foundation, a non-profit organization that grants the wishes of children with life-threatening medical conditions. By lighting a candle at the Festival of Lights, you’ll help enrich the human experience with hope, strength, and joy – which is a holiday experience worth getting behind.

Ride on the carousel

New this year is VanDusen’s carousel – a fun ride for everyone in your group. Your ticket for the Festival of Lights includes a free ride on this attraction, so you don’t have to pay extra for some additional Christmas enjoyment.

Get a photo taken with Santa

What’s a holiday excursion without taking a photo with the big man himself? Santa will be waiting at the Shaughnessy Restaurant from December 1 to 24 between 5 and 9 pm – and he won’t mind if you want your photo taken and you didn’t bring any kids. You can get two framed photos and an emailed photo for $15, or you can get three framed photos and an emailed photo for $20.

Try out the new Wonder Tree

Another one of 2016’s new attractions, the Wonder Tree is an interactive Christmas Tree near the garden’s entrance. There are more than 2,700 lights on the 24-foot Christmas Tree, and they light up in holiday imagery when two people work together to activate the tree.

Marvel at the Dancing Lights show

This is a classic attraction people come back for year after year. The Dancing Lights is a unique light show on Livingstone Lake. The lights are programmed to create a spectacular display that syncs up with festive tunes, both classic and modern.

Stop by the Eiffel Tower to take a selfie

This is an attraction you definitely won’t want to skip since it could get you a trip to Paris. Just take a photo under the dazzling lights and share it on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram using the hashtag #JardinsDeParis, and you’ll have a chance to win two economy tickets to Paris, courtesy of Air France and YVR.

Run into Scandinavian gnomes and holiday reindeer

This is an attraction you might not be able to avoid. Gnomes and reindeer will be roaming the 15-acre park throughout the holiday season – you might be able to find them in the gingerbread wood and lantern alley, or by the Wonder Tree or Livingstone Lake.

Interact with the Maple Bells

Maples Bells is a new interactive display for 2016, featuring a concert of light and sound against a backdrop of cedars and hemlocks. The maple trees glow when the Christmas bells begin to play, making it a special performance you won’t want to miss.

Enjoy delicious treats

The Festival of Lights isn’t all festive decor and holiday spirit – the event also includes a number of food options. You’ll be able to try out dishes from CinCity Donuts, Community Pizzeria, JJ’s Roasted Chestnuts, and Potato Tornado. Adults can also enjoy mulled wine, or Bailey’s and coffee at Frosty’s Patio and Bar.

Get your perfect holiday selfies

The Festival of Lights is the perfect romantic backdrop for holiday photos – the lights casting a filter-perfect glow over your face. But there are also a ton of specific photo ops throughout the garden with frames, sets, and other props to make your selfies stand out.


The Festival of Lights starts on December 1 and goes until January 2, only closing for Christmas day. Stay in the know about VanDusen gardens via Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.

VanDusen Festival of Lights

When: December 1 to January 2, 4:30 to 9 pm. Between December 16 and December 23, 4:30 to 10 pm

Where: VanDusen Botanical Garden, 5251 Oak Street

Price: $15.24 for adults, $8.57 for children. Buy tickets online

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