Bright Nights in Vancouver for Christmas

This December we made our first visit to the great northwest of North America. Beautiful Vancouver is one of the world’s most livable cities. The holidays are also a great time to experience impressive Christmas lights on Stanley Park, during Bright Nights!

The trip centered around Bell’s job as she had to interview cancer patients in Vancouver, Edmonton and Winnipeg. This wasn’t something she normally does, so naturally it was a tough situation and I was happy I could come along for support. We flew to Vancouver together and enjoyed the weekend. Then Bell continued to Edmonton and I traveled down to Seattle via Amtrak. I stayed with old friends from Dublin, before meeting back home in Boston.

Driving through Stanley Park

Vancouver is Picturesque during the Holiday Season

Vancouver is picturesque, modern, clean, cosmopolitan and surrounded by incredible natural beauty. As it was a cold and rainy Saturday, and terrible for strolling around the city, we rented a zipcar to get a small taste of the amazing scenery outside Vancouver. In the evening we stopped at Bright Nights in Stanley Park- a lovely island park located between downtown Vancouver and West Vancouver.

It was the biggest Christmas light display we’ve seen since visiting MGM Studios in Orlando for Christmas in 2007, before we moved to Europe. And Bright Nights was a whole lot cheaper than viewing the lights at MGM Studios. It’s technically free, they just recommend a donation for the BC Professional Fire fighters Burn Fund. Proceeds help burn survivors and their families. Bright Nights is the work of 800 British Columbia fire fighters, taking 8,000 man hours over 3 months.

Bright Nights, Vancouver

Bright Nights, Stanley Park

Bright Nights, Vancouver

Bright Nights Vancouver

Bright Nights Vancouver

Bright Nights has been running annually for 25 years. It attracts around 200,000 visitors each holiday season to watch 3 million lights illuminate chilly December nights. There’s also a train ride through the park to see additional lights and live actors- as we visited on a Saturday night the line was very long so we didn’t wait for the train. Proceeds from the train ride go to the Burn Fund.

Bright Nights kicks off late November and runs through early January. If you’re in Vancouver this is wonderful to check out whether you have kids or not, it’s fun and proceeds go to a great cause!

Stanley Park Bright Nights

Vancouver Hotels

Coal Harbour in Vancouver, a beautiful area offering picturesque views of Stanley Park

We absolutely loved our stay at the Westin Bayshore Vancouver. The views of picturesque Stanley Park are fantastic, so request rooms facing Stanley Park! The view puts it along with the most romantic hotels in North America.

The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver offers old world luxury charm in Vancouver. Their breakfast buffet is also fantastic. We preferred our stay at the Westin Bayshore, but also enjoyed the Fairmont.

Families and groups of friends will likely find the best value booking short term apartments. You can also find apartment lists on sites like, among others. Be sure to book properties that have consistently great reviews for the best experience.


Following our time in Vancouver, Bell traveling to Edmonton and Winnipeg in winter. She went to interview cancer patients, which gave her a renewed appreciation for life.

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  • Alex&Bell

    Alex and Bell originally met while solo traveling after finishing university in 2002, in Brugge, Belgium. Alex grew up in the USA and Bell hails from Australia. During our nearly 20 year marriage we've lived around the world, including spending six years living in the Netherlands and Ireland. We have traveled to nearly 70 countries and enjoy giving readers authentic and quality travel tips. Alex is an award winning travel journalist and travel planner, who also freelances for other outlets. Bell is an award winning PhD scientist who currently works for a non-profit lung cancer advocacy research organization called Lungevity. Happy travels and if you have any questions leave a comment or drop an email!

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2 thoughts on “Bright Nights in Vancouver for Christmas

    1. Indeed, it’s very touching that 800 fire fighters put in so many man hours to build this, with proceeds going to burn victims…Combining fun + a good deed = wonderful holiday spirit for everyone!

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