The best time to visit Vancouver’s Capilano Suspension Bridge is during its Canyon Lights Christmas displays at night in December. The lights are amazing!
CANCELLED FOR THIS YEAR (but still open during the day)
Because of the coronavirus and resulting drop in demand for tourist destinations, Capilano Suspension Bridge was closed to the public from October 1st until November 30th. It reopened on December 1st, so just in time for the Christmas season.
On December 7th, however, the attraction announced that its annual Canyon Lights event wasn’t going to happen after all this year. As of that date, the event was officially cancelled due to concerns about the coronavirus pandemic and government efforts to control its spread.
The tourist attraction is still open during the day in December, up until 6 pm each evening. The Christmas lights later in the evenings, however, aren’t now happening as an “official event” until the end of 2021. During the Christmas season of 2020/21, however, the lights are still on (so from 4 until 6 pm up until February 15th is still a magical time to be there).
Christmas at Capilano Bridge
The illuminations at Canyon Lights are beautiful – not as plentiful as at Stanley Park or VanDusen Garden, but every bit as wonderful. Instead of millions of lights, Capilano features closer to 500,000, which is still a ton! The decorations at Capilano Suspension Bridge are also tasteful, unique and exquisitely Christmas-y in so many ways.
In our opinion, Canyon Lights gets first prize as the most romantic place to take a date to see Christmas illuminations! It really is quite magical!
Canyon Lights Video
Below is a video about Canyon Lights at Christmas. It includes footage of the attraction from 2019, plus one or two scenes from the year before. Due to the coronavirus pandemic and resulting government health regulations, the evening event didn’t happen in 2020 (although the lights were still up and visible for people visiting the attraction during the day up until about 6 pm).
The video begins with the area at the park with First Nations totem poles. Next are scenes of live musicians and the area just outside the gift shop. This is followed by a walk along the Cliffwalk at around dusk, and then the crossing of the suspension bridge at night.
In the video, on the far side of the canyon, you can see people walking along the bridges high up in the air from tree to tree, and then a scene of the Christmas ornament-like light displays over the pond. The video finishes with a scene of the attraction at its entrance on Capilano Road.
As you’ll see from the video, the place looks quite magical during the Christmas season at night!
Where is Canyon Lights?
Canyon Lights takes place at Capilano Suspension Bridge which is located less than a 5-minute drive from the Cleveland Dam and the base of Grouse Mountain. The venue’s address is 3735 Capilano Road in North Vancouver.
The attraction is located on the west side of the street. Pay parking lots are across the street on the west side of Capilano Road. Parking costs about $5 for the duration of your stay. A limited amount of free off-street parking is also available on side streets a few blocks away.
When is Canyon Lights?
Last year the attraction was open from late November until late January, and it was closed on Christmas Day. However, in 2020, Canyon Lights has been cancelled altogether due to COVID-19.
When the event happens, the park is usually open from 11 am until 9 pm daily, with the lights and Christmas activities starting at 4 o’clock.
Admission Rates at Canyon Lights
Tickets to Canyon Lights in the evening are typically the same as tickets to Capilano Suspension Bridge during the day. Both are good for all day and evening.
Rates (excluding taxes) in 2020 when purchased online are the following (as of the last time we checked):
- Adults (ages 17 to 64) – $54.95
- Seniors (ages 65+) – $49.95
- Students (ages 17+) – $41.95
- Youth (ages 13 to 16) – $29.95
- Children (ages 6 to 12) – $18.95
- Little Kids (ages 5 & under) – Free
- Family Pass (2 adults & 2 children or youth) – $115.00
Canyon Lights admission prices are usually the regular rates for Capilano Suspension Bridge this time of year, and the tickets are valid all day, so having all the Christmas lights and festivities in the evening is a valuable bonus.
During the Christmas season Capilano Suspension Bridge is open usually from 11 am to 9 pm, with the Canyon Lights activities starting around 4 pm. As mentioned earlier, however, Canyon Lights has been cancelled in 2020. Regular Capilano Suspension Bridge hours are from 11 am to 6 pm this season.
Note: As mentioned above, parking in the pay parking lot costs about $5 for the day. There is also a limited amount of free street parking in the area, including a block away on Capilano Crescent just off Ridgewood Drive a block down the hill from the attraction.
What to See at Canyon Lights
There is a fair bit to do and see at Canyon Lights. There is a lot to enjoy at Capilano Suspension Bridge any time of the year, but especially at Christmas.
During Canyon Lights there are the site’s usual historical, geological and nature educational displays, beautiful First Nations totem pole art, and bridges throughout the trees. There is also the Cliffwalk, the fancy gift shop, places to buy hot chocolate, and of course the world-famous and very wobbly (but perfectly safe) suspension bridge.
In 2020, to keep people safe and to facilitate physical distancing, paths within the venue are designated one-way. There are a number of one-way loops within the property, including one near the entrance, another to get to the Cliffwalk and a couple around the grounds on the far side of the bridge.
The suspension bridge itself is also one-directional, but on a timed system. For a few minutes everyone crosses the main bridge in one direction. A few minutes later the direction changes so people can return back to the start. If want to cross the bridge but it’s running with people going in the other direction, if you wait a few minutes you’ll eventually get your turn.
Capilano Christmas Lights
What makes Capilano Suspension Bridge so special at Christmas time are all the magical lights and festive decorations. The light displays are done more tastefully and artistically than some of the Lower Mainland’s other Christmas light venues – there are fewer lights per square foot than at various other places, but they are equally impactful.
At Capilano Suspension Bridge, over the Christmas season at night, be sure to look down and admire the illuminated river in the canyon far below. The lights there are constantly changing colour. Also be sure to admire the waterfall.
What’s New at the Attraction?
Every year it seems there is something new at Canyon Lights. A couple of years ago it was an interactive dancing light display. In 2019 it was a really cool multi-coloured light tunnel on the Cliffwalk.
In 2020 you can expect to see lots of directional arrows and other signage telling people which way to go. There will also be hand-sanitizing stations, extra measures to facilitate physical distancing, and signs reminding guests that masks must be worn at all times. You can expect fewer people at the attraction this year too. Guests in 2020 will also be enjoying the sights more with members of their own households and far less than usual (hopefully) with larger groups of friends.
Most years at Canyon Lights there are a number of craft activities for children. In recent years you’ve been able to decorate a gingerbread cookie and then eat it. However, that was not the case in 2019. In 2018 guests could also make a customized button and wooden tree ornament, and they could make those again last year too. There won’t be any craft activities in 2020, because of COVID-19. You’ll likely be able to get a decorated gingerbread cookie though, for the cost of a donation to the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund.
In years when they are offered, the cost for doing the crafts is usually by donation with funds raised benefiting the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund, which is a great cause. Hopefully craft-making opportunities will be possible again next year.
Canyon Lights Owls
Also fun for children, at Canyon Lights in past years there have been light decorations in the shape of owls hidden around the property. Count them as you go, guess how many there are, and then enter to win a prize.
Finding them can be a fun activity for small children. Most are easy to spot, but a few are more challenging.
Raising Funds for the Firefighters’ Burn Fund
A number of Metro Vancouver Christmas attractions raise money for charities. Two great venues with festive illuminations where admission is by donation to the BC Professional Firefighters Burn Fund are Bright Nights at Stanley Park and the Holiday Hi-Light Festival in North Vancouver (both of which are just a 15-minute drive from Canyon Lights in good traffic).
Capilano Suspension Bridge also generously supports the BC Professional Firefighters Burn Fund. Admission to Canyon Lights isn’t free as it normally is at the other two venues, but the attraction does collect donations and gives partial proceeds from admission sales at Christmas to the charity. As of 2019, in fact, Cap Bridge has donated close to $350,000 to the Burn Fund over the years.
Tips and Advice
Below are some tips and things to know to help you make the most out of your visit to Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge.
TIP #1: For residents of BC, an annual pass is about the same price as single admission, which then makes the cost a great deal.
TIP #2: If you purchase an annual pass in December, visit just after Christmas one year, come again in the summer, and then take in the lights one more time just before Christmas the following year. Do that and you’ll get more than your money’s worth!
TIP #3: Available at Christmas time are family memberships which make admission even more affordable (and which aren’t normally available at other times of the year).
TIP #4: Consider going to Capilano Suspension Bridge in December in the later afternoon, before it gets dark, so you can see the sights while the sun is out and you can still see the river below. Then stick around for nightfall (around 5:30 pm or so) to see the place all lit up with Christmas lights and looking completely different. (Note: You can do this most years. With capacity restrictions in 2020 because of COVID-19, however, sticking around for extra long might not be possible this year.)
TIP #5: Expect to spend between 1.5 and 2 hours at Canyon Lights, plus or minus depending on your interest level, the weather, the crowds and if all areas are open at the time of your visit. Take your time though and enjoy the amazing experience!
TIP #6: Canyon Lights gets especially busy on weekends and during the week just before Christmas. Be merry and have patience with the crowds, especially if relying on public transit or the free shuttle bus service when waiting to go home. (Note: The free shuttle service may or may not be available in 2020.)
TIP #7: Book early, especially in 2020, because the place does fill up and, because of COVID-19 restrictions, the number of people allowed in at any given time this year will be greatly reduced.
TIP #8: For the 2020/21 winter season, don’t forget to wear a mask and to go with just people from within your immediate core bubble.
TIP #9: Many areas at Capilano Suspension Bridge are not wheelchair accessible. However, visitors in wheelchairs do usually receive free admission. Also, if on leash and under control, dogs are permitted at the venue.
For more ideas on places to see Christmas lights in the Lower Mainland, check out Top Things to do at Christmas.
For more on Canyon Lights, check out the official Capilano Suspension Bridge‘s website.
Other articles that might be of interest include the following:
- Vancouver’s Best Christmas Activities
- Lynn Canyon Suspension Bridge
- Metro Vancouver’s Top 100 Places
- Vancouver Parks and Places in Nature
- Christmas Activities on the North Shore