For several days every summer, the night sky over Vancouver’s English Bay becomes a canvas for some of the world’s best pyrotechnic teams as they compete in the Honda Celebration of Light. This year’s competition will continue a long tradition of neck craning and oohing and aahing.
The Celebration of Light is one of Vancouver’s biggest and best known events (this is the 22nd edition). More than 400,000 people come to witness the dazzling light show from either the water or the shores of downtown Vancouver.
Each night a different national team puts on a 25-minute spectacle that is choreographed to music. A local radio station simulcasts the soundtrack so that viewers can experience the amazing synchronization that the teams are able to attain.
This year’s battle features three new competitors:
Saturday, July 28 – Vietnam
Wednesday, August 1 – Brazil
Saturday, August 4 – Italy
A panel of judges scores each team in five areas: general concept, colour, originality, production quality and correlation of music. For 2012 the public can also chime in by voting for their favourite team on the Celebration of Light website.
Shows start at 10 pm – but arrive early to beat the huge crowds. Admission is free (you just need to find a spot to camp out) and there are also two paid seating options: at Vancouver International Airport’s observation deck and at The Keg Lounge on the roof of the English Bay Bathhouse. All proceeds from ticket sales go to the non-profit Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society.
MAKE A DAY OF IT
The Celebration of Light is more than just fireworks. Prior to the big show in the sky there are free concerts featuring some big name Canadian talent. These concerts take place at two music stages on English Bay and Sunset Beach. You can find a list of artists and concert times here.
The best way to get downtown for the show is to walk or ride a bike. Cyclists can park their bikes in a secure lock-up area at Sunset Beach. A close second is public transit, although be prepared for a huge crush of people immediately after the show.
What to Bring:
- A small radio to listen to the music simulcast
- A blanket to sit on and/or low lawn chairs
- Plenty of water
- Sunscreen or a raincoat (or both – you never know!)
On the Water:
Whether you take in one night or all three, the Celebration of Light is truly one of Vancouver’s “must see” family events.
Official Website: Honda Celebration of Light