The Art of Lights is a new Chinese-style lantern festival at the Cloverdale fairgrounds in Surrey from mid-December until February 10th 2019.
2019 Surrey Lantern Festival
The Art of Lights is an outdoor lantern festival featuring a large selection of Chinese lantern displays.
At the event there is a scaled replica of Beijing’s famous “Temple of Heaven.” There is also an “Under Sea World” and a “‘Living Dinosaur Kingdom.” Some of the displays are truly impressive.
When and Where
The Art of Lights lantern festival takes place between 5:00 and 10:00 pm between December 14th 2018 and February 10th 2019. It’s held at the Cloverdale Millennium Amphitheatre Park in Surrey at 17726 62th Avenue.
For the first part of the season the event was open daily. As of early January, 2019, however, it’s only open on weekends.
(NOTE: Hours of operation are subject to change. They were originally supposed to be 4:00 until 5:00 pm daily, but then got changed to weekends only and from 5:00 until 9:00 pm. As sunset gets increasingly later and Chinese New Year approaches, opening times may again change. See the official website for the most up-to-date details.)
What to Expect
At the Art of Lights expect to see a selection of bright and beautiful Chinese lantern displays. There are a couple of Christmas-y exhibits, but the majority are clearly of a Chinese theme.
At the event there are also one or two food trucks and vendors. Live entertainment is usually music with a local band from around 6:00 until 8:00 pm or so.
As many as a thousand or more people attended on some of the event’s first few days and weekends around Christmas and New Year’s Day. Average attendance though is typically only between around 100 and 200 visitors per night, so it’s rarely crowded (which can be nice for attendees).
Some of the most impressive displays include the Temple of Heaven, the dinosaur-themed displays, a giant Christmas tree and a tunnel of lights. These and dozens of other exhibits are spread out all over the park. Some displays are small and simple. Others are massive.
The Surrey event is similar to Vancouver’s Chinese Lantern Festival from last year (which was going to return to the PNE from February to March in 2019, but has since been cancelled). It’s also similar in some ways to the Lanterns in the Garden event at Dr. Sun Yat-Sen Garden from February 2018.
There are also similarities between the Art of Lights and Langley’s Glow Christmas event which ran until early January 2019 and is one of Metro Vancouver’s most popular Christmas attractions. Both have illuminated replicas of world-famous places, and both have glowing swings and cool lights to step on. The Surrey event is much more of a Chinese-style though, and Glow Christmas is all indoors.
If you have seen any or all of the above three other events, you’ll know more or less what to expect this winter at Surrey’s Cloverdale Millennium Amphitheatre Park.
Below are the prices for the Art of Lights event at the beginning of 2019.
- Adults (ages 13 to 64) – $22.95 in advance or $25 at the gate
- Seniors – $14.95 in advance or $16 at the gate
- Children (ages 3-12) – $14.95 in advance or $16 at the gate
Season passes are also available for $39.95 online in advance or $42 at the gate. Groups of 5 people get a special discount and can pay just $79.95 online or $83 at the gate.
(Note: For tickets purchased online there are additional service fees.)
UPDATE: As of mid-January 2019 admission prices have been discounted. For online purchases adults are $17.99, seniors and kids are $7.99, and groups of four are $47.99. Prices at the gate were a couple of dollars more when we last checked.
Reviews and Visitor Comments
We at Vancouver’s Best Places didn’t get to the Art of Lights event until fairly late in the season. Prior to going we checked out the online reviews for the event and saw that they had gotten 2.3 out of 5 stars from Groupon customers (as of the second week of January 2019).
Art of Lights apparently had lots of challenges with their launch. It was supposed to open in the early fall but that got delayed and they didn’t finally open until the middle of December. We’re guessing problems related to that likely impacted their online ratings.
Comments from reviewers on Groupon include the following:
- “The light displays were neat to see up close and the kids really enjoyed the glow swings. I am glad that I was able to get a discounted ticket through Groupon” (4 stars – by Jeneen R.)
- “Amazing light displays” (5 stars by Carole B.)
- “Good family activity. They fixed the path issue with some path boards. Nice light displays and not super busy making it more enjoyable to see. I would recommend!” (4 stars by Cassie A. on December 31)
- “Display is bit sparse and the lack of other vendors really took me back… I guess they did go through a lot!! When you visit you should expect more of art display than a festival! Really ideal for families with small children but equip yourselves with rain boots” (3 stars by Yuna C. on December 25)
- “The lanterns were nice but wish there was a bit more to look at and do” (2 stars by Laura F. on December 22)
- You’re done walking around in less than an hour” (3 stars by Ranjit O.)
When we went to the Art of Lights Lantern Festival (in mid-January) we really liked it. Yes, they could use more food trucks and vendors, but with only one or two hundred attendees per night, that’s hard to do. And yes, the displays were quite spread out, and it would have been nice if there was more to do, but it was still impressive. It’s a lantern festival, and the lanterns themselves are stunning.
Tips and Advice
Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most out of your Art of Lights experience.
TIP #1: The event has been offering discounted $15 admission tickets online. Hopefully they still are by the time you go. (Apparently there are only 200 offered per day.)
TIP #2: Dress warmly and wear boots or other good footwear. If it has been raining recently there might be puddles and muddy areas.
TIP #3: Parking at the venue is free.
TIP #4: Watch your step on the plastic walkways. They are a bit uneven in some places (but still nicer than walking through puddles).
TIP #5: Be sure to go after dark (which means increasingly later in the season). In January and February best times can be between around 6:00 and 8:00 pm as that’s when it’s dark enough and the live music usually takes place.
Other articles you might be interested in include the following:
- Vancouver’s December, January and February Calendars
- Chinese New Year in the Lower Mainland
- Vancouver Chinese Lantern Festival
- Vancouver Festivals and Events
- Vancouver Christmas Events & Attractions
- Vancouver for Children