Vancouver’s VanDusen Botanical Garden is worth seeing any time of the year, but especially during the Festival of Lights at Christmas time in December.
The light displays are first-rate and highly recommended for all ages!
VanDusen Garden at Christmas
The illuminations at VanDusen Botanical Garden in December and early January are amazing and very popular. In recent years the Festival of Lights has attracted over 110,000 visitors per season. The event’s Christmas displays feature over 1 million lights spread out over some 15 acres of gardens.
This article includes the following Festival of Lights information:
Festival of Lights 2018
The most recent season of the Festival of Lights ran from December 1, 2018, until January 6, 2019. Celebrating its 34th anniversary in 2018/19, the event is Vancouver’s longest running winter holiday attraction.
Where and When
The Festival of Lights takes place at VanDusen Botanical Garden which is located at 5151 Oak Street in Vancouver. Its main parking lot is just off West 37th Avenue. There is also street parking along Oak and nearby side streets.
The garden is open for the Festival of Lights from 4:30 until 9:00 pm for the entire month of December, except for the 25th as it’s closed on Christmas Day. From around mid-December until Christmas Eve, and then again from Boxing Day until New Year’s Day, it is also open until one hour later, so until 10:00 pm.
Below are the hours of operation for the Festival of Lights on specific dates during the 2018/19 Christmas season:
- December 1st to December 20th – 4:30 to 9:00 pm
- December 21st to 24th – 4:30 to 10:00 pm
- December 25th – Closed for Christmas Day
- December 26th to January 1st – 4:30 to 10:00 pm
- January 2nd to 6th – 4:30 to 9:00 pm
Note: VanDusen Garden was also open during the day on the above dates from 10:00 am until 3:00 pm. Regular admission rates apply during those times.
Festival of Lights Admission
Admission to the Festival of Lights costs between about $11.00 and $23.00 per person depending on your age, when you go and how you purchase your tickets. Tickets are less expensive when purchased online, and slightly more for the week of December 21st to 26th. Members of the VanDusen Botanical Garden get an extra discount and children ages three and under are free.
Below are the admission rates for Christmas 2018. All prices included taxes and online fees.
For the periods between December 1st to 20th and December 27th to January 6th (2018):
- Adults (ages 19 to 64) – $18.50 online and $20.00 at the gate
- Seniors (ages 65+) – $14.25 online and $15.50 at the gate
- Youth (13 to 18 years) – $14.25 online and $15.50 at the gate
- Children (4 to 12 years) – $11.00 online and $12.00 at the gate
- Garden Members (with valid card) – $14.25 online and $15.50 at the gate
For the week of December 21st to 26th (2018):
- Adults (ages 19 to 64) – $21.25 online and $23.00 at the gate
- Seniors (ages 65+) – $16.50 online and $17.75 at the gate
- Youth (13 to 18 years) – $16.50 online and $17.75 at the gate
- Children (4 to 12 years) – $12.50 online and $13.75 at the gate
- Garden Members (with valid card) – $16.50 online and $17.75 at the gate
What to Expect, See and Do
In addition to the million spectacular lights, at the Festival of Lights there are scheduled dancing light shows that last about 8 minutes and take place approximately once every half hour. There are also other activities, like photo opportunities with Santa and live performances.
The lights at VanDusen themselves are wonderful and displayed throughout the different gardens and around the various ponds. They are spectacular!
At the Festival of Lights there is also a carousel that’s suitable for folk ages 2 and older (and at least 36 inches in height). Admission prices include one complimentary ride per person.
Plan to stay at VanDusen Garden for the Festival of Lights for at least an hour, but probably more. And don’t forget to take your camera!
Looking for a place to eat before, after or in the middle of your Christmas light viewing? Then check out the Shaughnessy Restaurant just outside the VanDusen Garden close to West 37th Avenue at Oak Street for fancy dining (and Happy Hour with discounted drinks and appetizers between 3 and 5 pm most days).
For something more casual, check out Truffles Cafe by the garden’s information centre or any one of a number of food trucks at the event. A couple of additional vendors are also on site, including one selling mini donuts most years.
Tips and Advice
Below are some tips and suggestions to help you make the most out of your experience at the Festival of Lights.
TIP #1: If you like Christmas lights and beautiful gardens, then be sure to check out this event! It’s stunningly beautiful!
TIP #2: The number of tickets for sale online is limited and they typically sell out during the 10 or so days leading up to Christmas Eve. To avoid the lines, save a couple of dollars and avoid disappointment, book early!
TIP #3: A limited number of tickets are available at the gate, including on days when online tickets sell out. If you want to take your chances, the best time for walk-up entry is usually after 8 o’clock.
TIP #4: When you exit the Festival of Lights look out for the person handing out free tickets (as you leave) to see the Holiday Heights event which will be running at the Bloedel Conservatory from around mid-December until early January. So do the Christmas lights at VanDusen Garden first and the Bloedel attraction second, not the other way around, or you’ll end up having to pay for both!
For additional details about the evening holiday celebrations at VanDusen Garden in December, click Festival of Lights.
For information about the Christmas attraction at the Bloedel Conservatory, click Holiday Heights.