From December 11th to January 3rd, 4:30PM to 9PM, 1.4 million lights brighten up the VanDusen Botanical Gardens for their annual Festival of Lights.
There’s lots to see and enjoy and it’s for all ages. Don’t miss the Dancing Lights on Livingstone Lake, the Gingerbread Walk, visits by Santa and more. While there’s plenty of vendors to get hot chocolate and other food stuffs, I won’t dissuade you from bringing your own flask.
Catch the original release, after the jump.
The original release:
LIGHT THERAPY TO BANISH THE BLAHS
(Vancouver, BC) – At this time of year it’s dark, cold and damp. Some of us get up in the dark and come home in the dark. Our energy sags, we feel like cocooning and dreams of sunlit beaches dance in our heads. The medical profession calls it S.A.D. (Seasonal Affective Disorder) and prescribes special ‘light treatments’ to counter-act the seasonal blues.VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights is the best treatment we can think of to combat the winter blahs. With 1.4 million dazzling lights it has proven effective in upping the fun quotient for extended families with multiple generations, dating couples as well as friends looking for something to do together. Running December 11th through January 3rd from 4:30 to 9 pm every night (except December 25th when the Garden is closed).
The centre piece of Festival of Lights is the enthralling Dancing Lights on Livingstone Lake. Every half hour on the half hour, the show features thousands of lights on Lake Walk and Lake Peninsula programmed to dance, change colour, flicker, twirl and twinkle in harmony with recorded music. This year the Dancing Lights offers two different seven-minute interpretations of seasonal music – one will be in a more traditional classic style, while the other will bring to mind the jazzy interpretations of the big band era and the Rat Pack. The shows alternate so that there is a different Dancing Lights every half hour. In addition to watching the show from Lake Walk, you might want to watch it from the higher vantage point of Candy Cane Lane on the ridge overlooking Lake Walk and Livingstone Lake. To see the Dancing Lights in action: http://vancouver.ca/parks/parks/vandusen/website/events/fol.htm
Over in the Centre Court don’t be surprised if you run into, or more likely, are accosted by, Svend and Jens, our two mischievous Scandinavian Nisse or Christmas Gnomes. Famed as tricksters, it was the Nisse who delivered gifts to children in the Scandinavian countries prior to the advent of Santa Claus. Svend and Jens have been stealing hearts and inspiring gleeful laughter since their arrival at Festival of Lights three years ago. You’ll find them hanging out in the Centre Court area at the Gnome Home Under the Dome adjacent to Santa’s Living Room.
Speaking of the ‘jolly old elf,’ every night December 11th through 24th, Santa Claus himself can be found in his Living Room every evening starting at 5:30 pm for 30 minutes on the half hour (e.g. 5:30 – 6 p.m. 6:30 – 7 p.m., 7:30 – 8 p.m., 8:30 – 9 p.m.). From December 26th through January 3rd Fanny Starchild Puppet Theatre takes over from Santa bringing to life the story of The Magic Garden. Puppet shows have long been a part of European Christmases entertaining young and old alike. There are four 30-minute shows every evening from at the bottom of the hour: 5:30 p.m., 6:30 p.m., 7:30 p.m. and 8:30 p.m.
New this year is the Festival’s Sparkling Spruce, a 45 foot Serbian Spruce (picea omorika) located on the edge of the Centre Court. Sit in the sleigh and work the controls to design your own light show with the tree as your canvas – sort of a make-your-own mini version of the Dancing Lights.
On the north side of Livingstone Lake and adjacent to the Dancing Lights, a meandering path leads you through the Gingerbread Wood to a classic gingerbread house bedecked in sweets and surrounded by a lollipop garden. Along the way, look for ‘de-lightful’ surprises in and under the trees. You might even catch a glimpse of gingerbread children playing in the Wood.
Live music is very much a part of the holiday season and VanDusen is once again pleased to present its Community Choir Concerts on the Deck. Join us nightly at 6 p.m. and 7:30 p.m. December 11th through 24th to hear glorious music performed by choirs from all over the Lower Mainland.
Tucked away in the Heather Garden is the Make-A-Wish Candle Shrine. For a small donation, visitors are encouraged to light a candle and make a wish. Proceeds go to the Make-A-Wish Foundation® of BC and Yukon. Make-A-Wish strives to enrich the human experience with hope, strength and joy. Dozens of candles glowing in the dark is a truly beautiful sight. For more information on the Foundation, we invite you to visit their web site at: www.makeawishbc.ca
Food is always an important part of Festival of Lights. We are pleased to welcome back Dr. Waffle. Dr. Waffle has the right prescriptions to cure your hunger pangs. He will be dispensing his special brand of medicine from his signature kiosk located near the Dancing Lights. You might find a cure for what ails you with a yummy gingerbread waffle or stave off an impending cold with a steaming cup of Thomas Haas Hot Chocolate or mulled apple cider made form organic apples. In the same area you’ll also find the Hot Potato Peddler offering hot, roasted potatoes with a variety if tasty toppings.
For those interested in something more substantial, Shaughnessy Restaurant is open for lunch, afternoon tea and regular dinner service. Reservations are a must and can be made by calling 604.261.0011. Shaughnessy will also operate Mrs. Claus’ Kitchen next to Santa’s Living Room as well as serving seasonal goodies from their kiosk located on Shaughnessy’s back deck.
Festival of Lights runs from Friday, December 11th through January 3rd, 4:30 to 9 p.m. except for Christmas Day (December 25th) when the Garden is closed. The Garden is located at 5251 Oak Street at West 37th Avenue.
Avoid the line-up and purchase your tickets in advance through Tickets Tonight at 604-684-2787 / www.ticketstonight.ca (service charge applies) or you can pick them up in person at the Garden Shop (no service charge) or Garden Administration Office. Tickets will also be available at the Gate every evening. All funds raised go to help VanDusen grow. VanDusen Botanical Garden is a registered non-profit charity. For more information on VanDusen Botanical Garden and its events, visit www.vandusengarden.org Prices: Adults – $11.45, Seniors (65+) & Youth (13-18) – $8.30, Children (6-12) – $6.25, Family (2 adults + 2 children under 19) – $26. Children under age 6 are free.
Be sure not to miss this year’s Festival of Lights at vanDusen Botanical Garden – you’ll be sure to have a ‘de-light-full’ time. Festival of Lights is the major event/fundraiser for VanDusen Botanical Garden. Funds raised from the event help the Garden to grow. For more information on VanDusen Botanical Garden, its collections, events and programs, please visit www.vandusengarden.org
VanDusen wishes to thank Event Sponsors Blenz Coffee, Western One Rentals and Sales, Vivid Lighting Solutions and media sponsor, The Vancouver Courier for their generous support.
VanDusen Botanical Garden, 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver, BC V6M 4H1 Info: 604.878.9274