Glow in the Garden is a child-friendly October event that features carved pumpkins, glowing lights and Halloween fun at Vancouver’s VanDusen Garden.
VanDusen Glow in the Garden Event
Taking place at VanDusen Botanical Garden during the last week of October, VanDusen Glow in the Garden is arguably one of the region’s best Halloween attractions for young children and overly-timid folk. There is a small number of skeletons scattered around the place, but far less scary stuff than almost any other spooky event in town, which makes it especially popular for young families and tiny folks with nervous dispositions.
Glow in the Garden takes place in Vancouver at VanDusen Botanical Garden which is located at 5251 Oak Street with the entrance to parking just off West 37th Avenue. The parking lot isn’t huge though, especially for special events of this size, and so most people find parking somewhere else along the street.
The actual event takes place indoors in the Visitor Centre and in the garden just outside the centre and a bit to the south of the Garden’s Livingstone Lake. In 2016, the event’s first year, pumpkins were displayed all around VanDusen’s Woodland Garden area. In 2017, however, the main part of the attraction is just south of that area.
Glow in the Garden takes up a fair bit of space, but only a small fraction of the entire property.
Times and Dates
In 2017 VanDusen Glow in the Garden is open daily between 5 and 9 pm from Tuesday, October 24th, until Halloween night on October 31st.
TIP: Unless you or your children are seriously afraid of the dark, don’t go before 6:30 pm at the earliest – the attraction and its glow are best seen at night.
Admission for the Halloween event costs $10 plus taxes for adults, around $8 for seniors, youth and VanDusen members, and $6 for children between 3 and 12 years of age. Children in costume can participate in free fun craft activities, and snacks, apple cider and pumpkins are available for purchase.
Tickets can be bought on the day at the gate or for the same price plus processing fees in advance online.
TIP #1: The event sells out on some nights, including on the weekend just before Halloween. Book in advance to avoid disappointment!
TIP #2: There are still sometimes tickets available at the door after online tickets are all sold out. That’s not always the case, but often.
What to Expect
At VanDusen Glow in the Garden expect to see young families with small children in costumes, dozens of amazingly-carved jack-o-lanterns, and lit up pathways through the trees. There is also fun spooky Disney-kind-of music, crafts for children, and pumpkins, carnival candy and apple cider for sale.
The highlight of VanDusen Glow in the Garden is all the many beautifully hand-carved jack-o-lanterns by award-winning master carvers. Accompanying the various displays of artwork are illuminations among the trees, kid-friendly music and lots of colourful lights and pumpkins lining the trails.
2017 Alice in Wonderland Theme
Glow in the Dark at VanDusen Garden celebrates its second anniversary in 2017, and this year it adds a new Alice-in-Wonderland theme. Look out for the White Rabbit, Alice, Queen of Hearts and other Lewis Carol characters.
At the Alice in Wonderland-themed event in 2017 there are Christmas-style lights in the trees, which is different from the event in the past. Jack-o-lanterns are also placed on wooden cutout bodies and intricately carved as the heads of Alice in Wonderland characters. Look closely and you’ll see that the glowing faces are actuallly real pumpkins! They are amazing!
How Big is the Attraction?
VanDusen Glow in the Garden isn’t a huge event – don’t expect it to be on the scale of VanDusen’s Festival of Lights at Christmas time. It’s still a good size, just not quite the same.
The Halloween attraction actually only takes up a tiny fraction of the entire VanDusen property – just the area in and around the Visitor Centre and a couple of acres just south of Livingstone Lake. It’s not a big area, but a respectable size for little children.
Expect to stay at the event anywhere between 20 minutes and a couple of hours. The self-guided tour of the outdoor lights, jack-o-lanterns and various displays takes about 20 to 30 minutes, depending on how fast you walk and how long you admire the intricacies of each individual carving and display. After that the amount of time you spend depends on whether you stay for crafts and refreshments, and whether you decide to take a second stroll through the lit-up trails.
On Halloween event days in the past, the master pumpkin carvers were at work throughout the week, both offsite and at VanDusen Garden. The later in the week you went, the more intricately-carved jack-o-lanterns you were going to see. In 2017, however, there are fewer carved pumpkins overall, and they are generally all made before the start of the event.
Tips and Tricks
Below are suggestions on how to make the most of your trip.
TIP #1: Go in costume so you and your kids can take part in the free craft activities and have even more fun!
TIP #2: Don’t arrive before 6:30 pm at the earliest if you want to see the lights at their best in the dark.
TIP #3: Although the attraction is better later in the evening, if you go early and find you’re hungry it’s good to know that the fancy Shaughnessy Restaurant just outside has Happy Hour with discounted drinks and appetizers from 3 to 5 pm.
TIP #4: The closer the date to Halloween and the better the weather, the more crowded VanDusen Glow in the Garden is going to be, and the more likely the event will sell out. Don’t like crowds? Then go on a rainy day and before the Halloween weekend.
TIP #5: At the Alice in Wonderland event, don’t forget to courtesy or bow before the Queen of Hearts, especially if asking to take her photo. You don’t want to lose your head after all!
For further information on Vancouver’s famous botanical garden in general, see VanDusen Garden.
For more information on the event, click VanDusen Glow in the Dark 2017.
For other great Halloween activities for young families, check out Vancouver Children’s Halloween Activities.