If you’re looking to add a little wonder and magic to your holiday season VanDusen Gardens should be at the top of your Christmas list! With over 1 million lights decorating the botanical gardens, this is the perfect winter walk that would even make the Grinch’s heart grow two sizes. Beautiful, festive with activities for the whole family, this is a light display you won’t want to miss.

After hearing rave after rave of this spectacular light display last year, I decided to add it to our Christmas Advent and check it out for myself. Tickets are priced well for an evening with the family and we chose a weekday because I’ve pretty much decided to never do anything on the weekends if avoidable as they tend to be a tad more crowded–think Simba in a stampede of wildebeest. So a Thursday it was.

Pro to weekday excursions : less crowded. Cons : Traffic.

I’m going to be honest with you, arriving at VanDusen after driving for an hour and a half in weeknight traffic was not exactly the start to the evening I had envisioned. We arrived crabby, irritable, and with the sense of wanting to just turn back and leave. Needless to say we went from little expectations about our evening to extremely high expectations that that drive with a toddler had better of been worth it.

Though the festival opens at 4:30, parking was surprisingly easy. We arrived around 6:30 just as the early birds were beginning to leave. Walking up there were a few lights that were nice, but nothing special, and then we walked through the pavilion and entered the world of lights.

It. Was. Stunning.

Our bad moods melted away as our senses took in the sights. Lights for our eyes, music for our ears and fragrances for our nose. The air had a nice crisp chill to it which added to the winter evening and for the first time in a long time there was NO rain!

There are lots of displays to be seen from the Grinch to the dancing Christmas trees (the music is so fun) to the hidden tunnels and gazebos. One of my favorites were what looked like thousands of flowers, but upon closer inspection you can see that they are recycled water bottles.

We of course grabbed some delicious mini doughnuts at one of the trucks because for real what’s a festival without mini doughnuts? We rode the old carousel, played in the little houses scattered around the grounds, and were lucky enough to sit on Santa’s lap after only a five minute wait!


VanDusen does have a restaurant on site, though without a reservation you could be waiting a while. There are also a few food trucks, and for the adults mulled wine!

All in all this event was definitely worth the drive. It was dazzling and filled our hearts with a ton of Christmas joy. To me, an event is a success if I see the twinkle of wonder in my daughter’s eyes, the excitement of her pointing and running towards displays, and the hearty chuckle of pure delight. Needless to say, the VanDusen Festival of Lights will be sure to become a must do holiday tradition!


Open December 1st to January 7th starting at 4:30 nightly. Closed December 25th.

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