Where to See BC’s Festive Holiday Lights

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There’s nothing like thousands of twinkling lights to make you feel like a kid again. BC’s cities put on high-caliber, fantasyland light shows that will take the bah-humbug out of any holiday curmudgeons. Here’s a look at the most dazzling displays:

Victoria

A colourful display of Christmas lights at Butchart Gardens in British Columbia.

A colourful display of lights at Butchard Gardens, BC. Photo: @thesalomonvia Instagram

The Magic of Christmas? Butchart Gardens channels just that decked out in seasonal cheer: wreaths, winter flowers, 12 Days of Christmas motifs, shrubs and trees strung with hundreds of thousands of lights, plus outdoor ice skating, a carousel, music and caroling performances, hot chocolate, and holiday dining menus.

If you’re short on time, join Victoria’s Holiday Harbour Stroll with stops along the way: a gingerbread showcase, Fairmont Empress’s Festival of Trees, and BC’s Parliament Buildings all aglow.

Vancouver

A stunning display of purple Christmas lights at the Botanical Garden in Vancouver.

Basking in the festive glow at VanDusen Botanical Garden in Vancouver, BC. Photo: @wilsonnwong

VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights might just be the most spectacular because of the setting. A million lights adorn the rolling 55-acre green oasis, reflecting off lakes and ponds like a fairy garden. Then there’s the colourful Dancing Lights fountain show. Stroll the themed areas while sipping hot cider.

Olympic Village is the city’s stylish green-architecture showcase on False Creek built for the 2010 Winter Games. Billed as the “world’s largest Christmas Light Maze,” Enchant 2016 challenges visitors to find Santa’s nine reindeer hidden in a maze of hundreds of thousands of LEDs. It takes 30 minutes to navigate through seven complex light dimensions, including snow caves, 23-foot-tall trees, and the central stunner — a 64-foot-high Tannenbaum. Also onsite: a festive market, outdoor fire pit, food trucks, and live performances.

White fairy lights are strung across snow-dusted trees and glow bright in the evening.

Grouse Mountain is a local favourite during the festive season. Photo: @jesteise via Instagram

If you need snow to get into the holiday spirit – Grouse Mountain is the place. Ride the gondola to The Peak of Christmas where the North Pole-ish scene includes ice skating on the 8,000-square-foot frozen pond, fireside huts, a lantern-lit Light Walk through the woods, Santa’s Workshop, movies on the big screen and a kids’ Gingerbread Village. Grouse offers sliding and ziplining, as well as tours atop the Eye of the Wind wind turbine.

Bright Nights in Stanley Park is the city’s traditional go-to, ideal for tots (and a charitable fundraiser for burn victims). A miniature train chugs through three million twinkle-lights sparkling on evergreens and illuminating old-style Christmas scenes. There’s live entertainment and Santa.

In North Vancouver, Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge feels much like scampering through an enchanted forest. The outdoor park lights up Treetops Adventure catwalks between giant cedars, the Cliffwalk, and signature 450-foot-long bridge 230 feet above the Capilano River, adding fun throughout—gingerbread-cookie decorating, live music, and glass-blowing demos.

Whistler

Snow falls softly on a quiet village with a lit up display of the Olympic circles.

A snowy festive village, Whistler, BC. Photo: @wintonphotos via Instagram.

Whistler Blackcomb gets plenty of love as a premier North American ski resort, but its charming, pedestrian-only Euro-style Whistler Village is just as press-worthy—especially when the winding stone walkways are dusted in snow and the whole place is lit up like a Christmas tree. Join a free holiday event, peruse the artisan market, or take a seat at an outdoor heated patio to people-watch and listen to carolers. Tubing, snowshoeing, skating, and ziplining are all nearby, too.

The holidays are a time to both celebrate and reflect. So take in some lights, make some special memories, and get back in touch with what it’s all about: charity, goodwill and giving, feasting and family — with a dash of Santa magic.