Home Vancouver Monthly Calendar Vancouver Events in DECEMBER 2019 Top Things to do in Vancouver at Christmas Christmas Glow Festivals in Abbotsford and Vancouver

Christmas Glow Festivals in Abbotsford and Vancouver

Glow Christmas

Christmas Glow is a winter holiday festival with Christmas illuminations, light displays and family-friendly activities in both Abbotsford and Vancouver.

This article includes information about both Lower Mainland venues in 2019, although with a greater focus on the Abbotsford location. For more comprehensive details about the Vancouver venue, check out our article about Glow Vancouver or see the Glow Gardens website.

Christmas Glow Lights & Winter Festival

Glow is one of the Lower Mainland’s newest Christmas attractions and features light gardens, live entertainment, food vendors and family-friendly activities. It’s a massive collection of Christmas lights and festive displays that’s really impressive. In 2019 it celebrates its third year, but has expanded to two locations from just one.

The last couple of years Glow Christmas has taken place in a giant greenhouse at Milner Village Garden Centre in Langley. In 2019 it happens instead at the Tradex Centre in Abbotsford and the Harbour Convention Centre in downtown Vancouver.

Last year at its Langley location the festival had a Glow Around the World theme with light displays of world-famous sights and scenes. In 2019 the theme at the Vancouver venue is Santa’s Lost Presents where guests get to help elves find missing gifts. The 2019 theme in Abbotsford is Santa’s Sleigh Adventure where guests get to look for Santa’s lost reindeer.

See below for information about the following topics:

Dates, Hours & Location | Admission Prices | What to Expect | Attraction Comparisons | About Glow | Christmas Glow Video | Tips & Advice | Other Information

Having Fun on Glow LED Swing
LED Swing at Glow Christmas

Glow Dates, Hours and Location

Christmas Glow is open most days in December at both of its 2019 venues, plus a few days in January. The Vancouver location is also open during the last bit of November.

In 2019 the Vancouver Event takes place at the Harbour Convention Centre at 760 Pacific Boulevard from November 21st until January 4th (2020). The Abbotsford event, meanwhile, takes place at the Tradex Centre at 1190 Cornell Street (beside the Abbotsford Airport) from December 5th until January 4th.

Christmas Glow Abbotsford is open every day in December except for Sundays and Christmas Day starting on the 5th, and then every day in January from the 1st until the 4th.

Hours of operation at the Abbotsford venue are from 4 pm until 10 pm most weekdays, and from either noon or 1 pm until 10 pm on Saturdays. From December 23rd until January 4th, however, it opens at either 11 am or noon. See the Christmas Glow Abbotsford website for exact details.

Hours of operation at the Vancouver venue vary a bit more. Depending on the date it opens at either 1 pm or 4 pm and runs until 8, 9, 10, 11 pm or midnight. Click Christmas Glow Vancouver for exact times.

For tickets and more information see the Glow Gardens website.

Glow Christmas at Tradex
Light Tunnel at Glow Abbotsford at Tradex

Glow Admission Prices

Admission rates at both the Abbotsford and Vancouver Christmas Glow locations are the following:

Weekday Admission Prices
  • Adult – $19.99
  • Senior (age 65+) – $14.99
  • Child (age 4-12) – $14.99
  • Family (2 adults & 3 children) – $65.99
  • Toddler (under 4 years of age) – Free
Weekend Admission Prices
  • Adult – $22.99
  • Senior (age 65+) – $16.99
  • Child (age 4-12) – $16.99
  • Family (2 adults & 3 children) – $74.99
  • Toddler (under 4 years of age) – Free
Season Pass Admission Prices
  • Adult – $49.99
  • Senior (age 65+) – $38.99
  • Child (age 4-12) – $38.99
  • Family (2 adults & 3 children) – n/a
  • Toddler (under 4 years of age) – Free

Important Notes:

  • For a limited time you can get 20% off a season pass or 40% off one-day rates on specific dates at the start of the season.
  • Tickets are purchased for specific 1-hour time slots and guests are requested to arrive during their designated times. This is a good system and done to help reduce congestion inside the attraction and lineups at the gate.
  • The above ticket prices don’t include GST or a small online fee. Individual tickets cost about $2 more at the gate.
  • Attendants of adults with special needs get free admission (or at least that was the case last year) – they just need to prove with documentation that they are a caregiver at the Box Office. 2019 details are to be confirmed.

For tickets and more information see the Glow Gardens website.

Glow Christmas Light Displays
A light display at Glow Abbotsford

What to Expect

At Glow there are numerous Christmas light displays, child-friendly activities and a Christmas store. At the Langley location in the past, and at the Abbotsford location in 2019, there has also been an artisan market with local vendors. There are also kids’ activity areas, a miniature train and live music.

Up until Christmas Eve Santa Claus is on site for photo opportunities and chats with kids at designated times. After December 25th, instead of Santa, kids can visit with the Glow Princesses.

When you arrive at Glow you’re greeted by friendly staff and the brilliantly lit-up entrance to the main indoor attraction. Once inside, you’ll find all kinds of magical family-friendly things to do and see. You’ll also discover a fun story-like theme.

Christmas Glow does an amazing job with its light displays! We love them! It’s also great that so much is new and different each year!

India's Taj Mahal at Glow Christmas
Taj Mahal light display at Christmas Glow 2018

Glow Christmas Themes

Last year, when still at its original Langley location, the festival had a Glow Around the World theme. With its international and multicultural theme, visitors could follow Santa Claus on his journey around the world and see French, British, Indian, Chinese, Mexican and Dutch light gardens and illuminated sculptures of famous landmarks. Along the way kids could get their passports stamped at each country they visited.

In 2019 the theme at the Abbotsford venue is Santa’s Sleigh Adventure. With the theme there is a story. Santa Claus has crashed his sleigh and, as a result, he has lost his reindeer. In the Tradex building, right near the entrance, there is actually a scene depicting the crash with a model Santa looking somewhat dazed and two of his reindeer looking injured. There is even fake smoke!

At the Abbotsford venue children and their parents need to assist Santa in finding his team and exploring alternative methods of delivering presents including via airplanes, hot air balloons, trains, motorbikes and other forms of transportation.

The theme at the Vancouver Venue this year, meanwhile, is Santa’s Lost Presents. In this case, instead of helping Santa find his reindeer, attendees get to assist elves in tracking down lost Christmas gifts. When you find a present (or a reindeer in the case of Abbotsford) a nearby attendant gives you a stamp. Collect all the stamps and you earn a prize!

For tickets and more information see the Glow Gardens website.

Teddy Bear Attack at Glow Vancouver
Teddy Bears at Glow Vancouver

Kids’ Activities at Glow

Activities for children at the Abbotsford and Vancouver venues in 2019 are similar to what there has been in the past, when the event took place in Langley, but also different. That’s one of the great things about Christmas Glow – every year some things are the same and others change. Also, in 2019, the Vancouver and Abbotsford venues are not identical – so you can visit both without getting bored.

At both venues in 2019 there are bouncy reindeer for little kids, LED swings, fairy tale princesses walking around, an Icicle Cavern and the Glen the Glow-comotive miniature train to ride. There are also lots of pretty light displays to look at.

At the Vancouver venue there is also a movie theatre where you can watch a short Christmas-themed film, plus an area with about a dozen giant teddy bears that you can play with or use as props in your photo selfies. There is also LED hopscotch.

At the Abbotsford venue in 2019, for kids there are a couple of large play structures. One is of a ship and the other is kind of a castle-like structure. At the Tradex location there is also a giant light tunnel.

Last year, when the attraction was in Langley, there was also an indoor miniature golf course (but there isn’t one at either of the 2019 events).

Glow Vancouver Hopscotch
LED Hopscotch

Glow Light Mazes

Glow’s Christmas venues typically have a maze that people can wander through. A couple of years ago in the maze in Langley there were polar-bear-light displays, a giant Christmas tree, Santa’s sleigh, a cool mini-maze of dangling lights and giant Christmas present displays hidden throughout the place.

With its Glow Around the World theme, last year the maze in Langley had amazing light displays representing different countries. There was Big Ben, the Parliament Buildings and Tower Bridge in the England section, and the Eiffel Tower and Arc de Triomphe in France. There was also a giant Dutch windmill, an Aztec pyramid in Mexico, a giant gate and golden dragon in China, and a sparkling Taj Mahal in India.

In 2019 Santa’s missing presents are hidden around the venue in Vancouver, although it’s not set up so much as a maze, and lost reindeer are hiding in the maze in Abbotsford. Both activities are like giant magical scavenger hunts which kids love (and for which they can collect stamps and earn a prize)!

Gift Store and Artisan Market

In addition to the light displays and scavenger hunts, at Glow’s Christmas venues there is also a gift store selling seasonal knick-knacks, Christmas ornaments and household decorations.

Another highlight of Christmas Glow is the indoor vendor artisan market. Similar to other craft and artisan fairs over the Christmas season and throughout the Lower Mainland, the market features homemade sweets, handmade candles and soaps, plus a wide range of art and miscellaneous artisanal products. In 2019 there is an artisan market at the Abbotsford location, but not the Vancouver one.

For tickets and more information see the Glow Gardens website.

Live Music

At set times there is live entertainment at Glow. Evening performances in previous years have run between around 5:30 and 9:00 pm, plus or minus, and have consisted of 30-minute sets with short breaks in between. The entertainment schedule for each day varies. 2019 is similar.

Special Drinks at the Glow Christmas Bar
The Bar at Glow Vancouver

Beverage Stations

At the Christmas Glow festival there is always at least one bar station selling beer, wine and other refreshments to help guests get into the festive spirit. Usually there are multiple stations open, especially at busy times.

Beer on tap is usually from local craft breweries and prices are reasonable. Last year beers were about $5, wine was $7 and water and juices were $2 or $3. 2019 is similar.

In the theme of “Glow Christmas,” at both venues in 2019 you can get souvenir glasses that are in the shape of light bulbs and that have an actual light inside that makes your drink glow. They are pretty cool and fun for both kids and adults.

Santa Claus & Other Characters

Santa Claus has a station where children can visit him, get their photos taken and discuss their Christmas wish lists. He is only there at set times though, and only up until Christmas Eve.

In addition to Mr. Claus, there are usually one or two other characters roaming around the Christmas Glow venues. When we have visited, for example, there have always been fairy tale princesses.

Princess at Glow Abbotsford
A princess character at Glow Abbotsford

Attraction Comparisons

A few years ago Vancouver’s newest Christmas attraction was the Enchant Christmas Festival & Light Maze at Olympic Village. Last year the city’s newest attraction was the Aurora Winter Festival. By comparison, Christmas Glow is similar to both Enchant Christmas and Aurora, except that it’s indoors which is a pure delight on Vancouver’s typically rainy, wet December nights.

Similar to the previous Vancouver Enchant Christmas Festival (which no longer operates in the Lower Mainland) and Aurora Winter Festival, Christmas Glow attractions feature things like an illuminated maze, giant light tunnel, an assortment of beautiful illuminations and live music.

The primary difference between Christmas Glow and the other attractions, however, and a big difference, is the fact that one is almost completely indoors where it’s warm and dry and the others are outdoors (which can beautiful on dry or lightly snowing evenings, but muddy, wet and potentially miserable on rainy nights).

The Lower Mainland has numerous Christmas attractions, but few as large and as non-weather dependent as Christmas Glow. Glow’s light displays are wonderful, but so is the fact that it’s always warm and dry!

Glow is a fabulous family-friendly Christmas festival. It’s indoors, which is awesome, and magical with all its holiday lights and festive displays.

Christmas Glow in Abbotsford in 2019 is similar to Christmas Glow in Vancouver, but different enough to make them interesting for people who visit both venues.

At 90,000 square feet, Abbotsford’s Tradex location is definitely the larger of the two. The Harbour Convention Centre venue, meanwhile, is closer to 50,000 square feet, so around half the size (but also much more conveniently located for folk living in or near downtown Vancouver). Because of its larger size, the Abbotsford venue has an artisan market while the Vancouver one does not.

Glow Christmas Icicle Cavern
Icicle Cavern at Glow Christmas

About Christmas Glow

Glow is the creation of the owners of Milner Village which is a large garden centre and greenhouse facility in Langley. They have a large garden centre store and farming operation. Their main crop is poinsettias, but they also grow tomatoes and a few other products.

Milner Village Garden Centre has massive greenhouses. Mid-winter is slow season for the garden industry and so between late November and the beginning of January they don’t need all their indoor space. Consequently, starting in 2017, the family-owned business turned one of its giant greenhouses into Glow – BC’s largest indoor Christmas attraction!

Last year Glow Gardens added a new indoor attraction – Harvest Glow – which was an autumn-themed event featuring pumpkins, a corn maze, mini golf and other family-friendly activities. It was a great success, although just a one-time event (at least to our knowledge).

In 2019, due to zoning issues at its location in Langley, Christmas Glow had to move to a new Lower Mainland venue. That’s why, this year, the festival takes place in both Vancouver and Abbotsford. Christmas Glow isn’t just a Lower Mainland event, however. Due to its tremendous initial success, this year they have locations in Edmonton, Halifax, Ottawa, Toronto, Saskatoon, Pittsburgh, Seattle and even Odense Denmark! Glow Gardens is a fabulous “made-in-the-Lower-Mainland” success story!

Christmas Glow Video

Below is a promotional video about the Christmas Glow event in 2018. As you’ll see, it had a very distinct international theme.

Tips and Advice

Below are some suggestions and bits of information to help you make the most out of your visit to Christmas Glow.

TIP #1: If you like Christmas attractions, especially ones that are indoors and out of the rain, then definitely check out either one (or both) of the Lower Mainland’s two Christmas Glow locations! They offer first-rate, positively-festive, family-friendly experiences!

TIP #2: If you have young children, don’t forget to get your scavenger hunt paper stamped while you search for the missing presents and/or reindeer. And don’t forget to collect your prize when you complete it!

TIP #3: Plan to be at Christmas Glow for between thirty minutes and two hours, but maybe more if you stay for dinner and the music or if you have young children who want to play.

TIP #4: Buy your tickets online and save a few dollars.

TIP #5: Being primarily indoors and on a flat surface, Glow is one of the Lower Mainland’s most wheelchair-friendly Christmas attractions.

For tickets and more information see the Glow Gardens website.

Best Christmas Activities

Other Information

For more information about the Lower Mainland’s newly expanded winter holiday festivals, or to buy tickets, see the Glow Gardens website.

To learn more about the event at the Harbour Convention Centre see our Christmas Glow Vancouver article or visit the Glow Vancouver website.

For ideas on other things to do in the area or on other days in the month, check out any of the following: