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.
Due to the coronavirus outbreak in 2020, many events around the Lower Mainland are no longer happening. The Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden was still hoping to take place this winter season, although later than originally planned.
On December 7th, however, after the extension of restrictions announced by the provincial government, the venue announced that its annual Christmas attraction was officially cancelled and not taking place again until late next year.
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 15 acres of gardens in typical years.
This article includes the following Festival of Lights information:
Festival of Lights at VanDusen
After celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2019/2020, the event is Vancouver’s longest running winter holiday attraction. The light displays are first-rate and highly recommended for all ages!
This season, the festival was going to run from November 27th, 2020, until January 3rd, 2021. However, because of the coronavirus pandemic, Festival of Lights has been cancelled.
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 usually street parking along Oak and nearby side streets.
In years that the event happens, the garden is open for the Festival of Lights from 4:00 pm until 9:30 pm for the entire month of December, except for the 25th as it’s closed on Christmas Day. After Christmas Day, it is usually open for the same hours, 4:00 pm until 9:30 pm, every day including Boxing Day and New Year’s Day up until January 3rd.
Note: Although Festival of Lights has been cancelled for the 2020/2021 season, VanDusen Garden is likely open during the day on the above dates. Regular admission rates would apply during those times.
Festival of Lights Admission
Admission to the Festival of Lights cost between about $8.00 and $14.00 per person depending on your age. In previous years, prices also depended on whether tickets were purchased online or at the gate. Due to COVID-19 however, this isn’t the case in the 2020/2021 season, as tickets are only available online and not on location.
In 2020 members of the VanDusen Botanical Garden still get an extra discount and children ages three and under are free.
Below are what admission rates for the Christmas season in 2020/2021 were going to be. All prices excluded taxes and online fees. Next year’s rates may be similar.
Regular rate (2020/2021):
- Adults (ages 19 to 64) – $14.00
- Seniors (ages 65+) – $10.00
- Youth (13 to 18 years) – $10.00
- Children (4 to 12 years) – $8.00
- Garden Members (with valid card) – $9.50
What to Expect, See and Do
In addition to the million spectacular lights, the Festival of Lights typically also features dancing light shows that last about 8 minutes and take place approximately once every half hour. There are also usually other activities, like photo opportunities with Santa, live performances and a carousel ride.
The lights at VanDusen themselves are wonderful though, as they are displayed throughout the different gardens and around the various ponds. They are spectacular!
Unfortunately, the event was cancelled for the 2020/2021 season. When the Festival of Lights returns, 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.
For something more casual, check out Truffles Cafe by the garden’s information centre or any one of a number of food trucks that are at the event in normal years. A couple of additional vendors are usually 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 in normal years.
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 in years without a pandemic, save a couple of dollars and avoid disappointment by booking early!
TIP #3: A limited number of tickets are available at the gate in normal years, 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.
For additional details about the evening holiday celebrations at VanDusen Garden in December, and to book your tickets online, click Festival of Lights.