The Honda Celebration of Light is Vancouver’s largest summer event, with more than 500,000 spectators enjoying colorful lights spread across the Canadian skies. Filled with charisma, a fresh breath of nature, beaches, thrill, and the perfect mix of cultures, Vancouver is a great city to be at! Adding to that is the Celebration of Light – a fest of bright lights exploding in the sky with soulful music, held in Vancouver every year.
The Celebration of Light is an event everyone local and national looks forward to. Reports state that this event contributes to over $170 million every year by the tourism sector. It is produced by the BRANDLIVE Management Group in partnership with Sirius Pyrotechnics.
You can see the Celebration of Light at the end of July with three consecutive days of light shows by three participating countries. Peonies, diadems, chrysanthemums, horsetails, and willows are launched into the sky as they explode into spectacular colors of joy and life.
Viewers come all prepared and suit themselves in various viewing locations beforehand, with food, folding chairs, and picnic blankets. Major locations also provide VIP watching arenas such as private cabanas and bleachers, pre-show bookings, food joints, and entertainment activities.
The fireworks festival is followed by several events across various viewing locations in Vancouver. English Bay Beach and Stanley Park are loaded with musical fests and a range of engaging activities, including water sports, beach games, carnivals, and uncountable games for children! Vancouver’s festival of lights is the perfect combination of the celebration of light, music, and food for guests from all over the country.
Honda has adopted several green and sustainable methods and initiatives alongside the display of fireworks to minimize the impact of chemicals and fireworks on the environment. Apart from fireworks, initiatives have also been taken to preserve and conserve Vancouver’s natural structures, such as parks, seas, beaches, etc.
Sustainability is the most vital concern today, and Honda has taken all steps to reduce damage and host an environment-friendly festival for the people.
Viewing Locations – Where Can I Watch Celebration of Light?
While the English Bay Beach gives the closest and best view of the fireworks, there are several locations, parks, and bridges across the beach to find a spot and be a part of the majestic Celebration of Light.
English Bay Beach
The English Bay Beach is the most crowded viewing spot during the Celebration of Light. Every part of the Beach is filled with people from all over the country and abroad. The English Bay Beach gives viewers the closest and most spectacular view of the fireworks.
There are several restaurants, lounges, and shops along the beach for the public to get the best experience while watching the fireworks. People flock the English Bay Beach with picnic mattresses, blankets, food baskets, and their near and dear ones. It is challenging to reserve a convenient spot for yourself if you don’t leave early.
Along with fireworks, there are several fun festivals and arenas for entertainment – The Radio Z Fest on the Keg Lounge for the adult viewers’ musical experience with performances by Canadian artists, wonderful airshows of airplanes displaying acrobatics, boats spraying water in patterns, and many such events alongside the powerful fireworks show.
During and after the Celebration of Light, fun activities include boating, beach volleyball, games, and fancy dining spaces on private ships. VIP seats, boats, and dinner reservations need to be booked beforehand to avoid missing out on the best experience.
Click here to read more about the various yearly events and the history of the English Bay.
One of the best venues to get a close view of the fireworks during Celebration of Light is Vanier Park, located across English Bay Beach. Extremely crowded during the festival, it is best to choose a spot in Vanier Park early to avoid missing out on good viewing areas. Roads are usually closed during and before the event.
While Vanier Park is well-known for the H.R MacMillan Space Centre and Museum of Vancouver, Bard on the Beach in Vanier Park makes the event special with its BBQ Nights for the viewers. Barbeque dinner with fireworks on display and a touch of Shakespearean theater is the best combination one could ask for. People also get to enjoy the beautiful view of Vancouver Skyline. from Vanier Park.
Roads post the festival are bound to be crowded, so it is advised to arrange for transport beforehand to not miss out on reaching your place early.
The best spot in town to get a beautiful view of the sea and the fireworks together is Sunset Beach. Located near the English Bay Beach, Sunset Beach is comparatively less crowded. The beach gives the public a close view of the fireworks. The chill vibe at the beach is unbeatable. The coastline and city lights view is mesmerizing, making Sunset Beach worth being at during the Celebration of Light.
The Sunset Beach also hosts a part of the Radio Z Fest. Artists perform on Sunset Beach as the crowd prepares for the display of lights all over. Evenings on Sunset Beach as just as blissful, as people take to the beach and jam to music with drinks food as the sun slowly sets.
Kitsilano Beach is known for its huge space and view of fireworks from all over the beach. With the shoreline crossing Vanier Park, Kitsilano accommodates a large number of people.
The Beach also facilitates a large number of fun activities for the crowd, especially in the waters. They include swimming in Kitsilano’s renowned huge swimming pool, beach volleyball, pool, and large spaces to hang out, play in the sand, walk around with loved ones, and enjoy the cool breeze near the waters.
Viewers often look forward to performances at the Kitsilano’s Showboat Stage, that go on for more than 3 months on specific days. There are various acts, shows, dance stages, and musical performances with a cultural tinge that keep the viewers hooked till the end.
Second Beach in Stanley Park
Stanley Park is another viewing location with a lesser crowd and more outdoor spaces for the public to feel at ease while enjoying the Celebration of Light. Second Beach in Stanley Park gives a great view of the fireworks from the beach.
Although the view from Second Beach may not compare to that of English Bay Beach, which is located perpendicular to it, the best part about the beach is the entertainment and engaging activities throughout the day till the start of the fireworks. Open spaces, outdoor activities, and a hint of nature’s touch with walking trails and flowers make the location even better and fun to be at, especially for children.
Burrard Bridge is the best option for pedestrians and the crowd that wants to avoid beaches. Though the view is very far and different from those of different beaches, the fireworks look mesmerizing even from the bridge. People line up on walkways to enjoy the spectacular and majestic display of fireworks.
There are several walkways one can watch the fireworks from. This magical display of lights is surely a treat to the eyes before retiring at the end of the day. If you are around English Bay Beach, make sure you get a glimpse of the Celebration of Light.
Fireworks Competitions and Participating Countries
The Celebration of Light started as ‘Symphony of Fire’ in the 1990s. Since then, countries worldwide take part in the fireworks competition represented by their pyrotechnic companies to showcase different themes, music, skills, and abilities. The Celebration of Light hosts the longest-running fireworks competition in the world.
Australia, Hong Kong, and Spain competed against each other in 1991. The legacy continued, with countries bagging the title of the best display of fireworks. The fireworks are accompanied by music that represents the theme and their countries. From jazz to Hispanic, folk, and classical, every participating country gives out their best musical scores along with the fireworks.
The Honda Celebration of Light is known for introducing a new nation from different continents to the fireworks competition. A blend of cultures, traditions, and values makes the competition even more enjoyable, beautiful, and a delight to watch.
Music is the best part of the Celebration of Light. People slowly move their bodies in rhythm as the music plays in sync as fireworks explode in the sky.
Celebration of Light in 2006 had 4 participating countries – China, with The Philarmonic Orchestra and pianist Xiang-Dong Kong as their musical scores accompanying the fireworks.
The Czech Republic, with their music covering all genres under jazz, Italy, which showcased fireworks on the first day gathering more than 400,000 viewers, and Mexico, which won the competition as well as people’s hearts with their soulful music scores and the nation’s values on display with the fireworks.
In 2017, Canada’s 150th Anniversary celebrations were included as a part of the fireworks competition. The three competing countries – Japan, the United Kingdom, and Canada were given a well-known Canadian song to display their fireworks. An exceptional and meaningful year for all the Canadians indeed. Japan emerged as the winner in 2017, sponsored by Akariya Fireworks.
2018 saw fireworks’ display on the same theme by 3 participating countries – South Korea, South Africa, and Sweden. South Korea was the winner, represented by Daehan Fireworks Co. Honda Celebration of Light was held on July 27, July 31, and August 3 in 2019. Canada’s Firemaster Production Inc. won against competing countries, India and Croatia.
2020 would have seen Honda Celebration of Light complete 30 years of a successful symphony of fire. The celebrations for 30 years are scheduled to take place in 2021.
Major Events during the Celebration of Light
The Celebration of Light includes a plethora of music festivals, events, and entertainment activities for viewers to make the most out of the fireworks fest.
The Z-Fest, previously known as Shorefest, is deemed one of the best and largest concert series held in Vancouver’s English Bay Beach. Partnered by Z93.5FM, Radio Z-Fest is the best summer music event one could ask for. Canadian and international artists and bands line up to give their best performances to the crowd and gear them up for the beautiful fireworks shows.
Artists perform and engage viewers at Sunset Beach as well during the Celebration of Light. Second Beach sees the Park Stage, with artists performing similarly.
The majority of the viewing locations facilitate and encourage live shows, music fests, and accommodations for food, stay, and entertainment throughout the three days of the fireworks festival. There are also arrangements for ticketed seats, boats, cabanas, summer houses, resto-bars and pubs for adult folks, and VIP privileges for the public to get the best out of the festival as well as enjoy their privacy.
Activities for entertainment include adventure and water sports in the surrounding areas and carnivals, with food stalls all over the venue. The mood is set right for the festival, as locals come together at different viewing locations for the Celebration of Light. The festival is a major boost to fireworks and pyrotechnic companies, as they get to showcase their strengths in the best way possible.
More than 1.4 million people gather every year around the English Bay Beach, Vanier Park, Sunset Beach, and Stanley Park to witness and be a part of the explosion of fireworks in Vancouver’s night skies during Celebration of Light. People spend time with their loved ones as the fireworks light up the sky with music in sync and ignite sparks within.
Without a doubt, the Celebration of Light is one of the best festivals to enjoy in Vancouver. If you are in and around the city, you definitely would not want to miss out on Celebration of Light – the colorful display of fireworks all over the skyline and a magical treat.