Celebration of Light: Vancouver’s Annual Fireworks Display

On Wednesday evening, the skies will light up as Vancouver will host the 20th Anniversary of the HSBC Celebration of Light:

The Celebration of Light is held each year in Vancouver as 3 countries compete for the title by competing in a pyro-musical fireworks competition which attracts the world’s leading fireworks designers.

Formerly known as Benson & Hedges Symphony of Fire, competitions were held around the world, most notably in Canadian cities Montreal, Toronto and Vancouver. Now the event is held each year in Vancouver and is seen as a highly prestigious with viewership estimated at over 1.5 million annually.

The Festivities

It’ll now be my fifth or sixth year attending the Celebration of Light and each year they seem to put on a better show. I’ve viewed the fireworks now from most of the popular locations, with each one having its own appeal. Regardless of where you decide to watch, you’ll be sure to have fun if you gather a few friends and make a night out of it.

The atmosphere around the city will remind you of Olympic days and viewing the crowds is a spectacle on its own.

There are several locations to watch around the city which are considered Prime Viewing Areas: English Bay, Kits Point, Vanier Park, and various locations around the West End, Sunset Beach and Stanley Park.

If your looking for a lively family-friendly atmosphere away from the Downtown rush, I’d recommend John Lawson Park in West Vancouver. If you want to be right in the thick of the action, then there’s no better place than English Bay.

If you plan on being downtown, the best way to get around is public transit as there are several road closures around the more populated viewing areas.  Be sure to come early as the crowds are enormous and the police security is high.

The Competition

This year, there will be two sand-covered barges anchored 300 metres from the shore at English Bay.  The 3 competing countries will include USA July 21, Spain July 24 and Mexico July 28.  There will also be a special Tribute to China on July 31.

Countries will be judged on:

  • General Concept – presentation, structure and scale of display
  • Colour – choice and variety of colours
  • Originality – design and architecture
  • Quality of Production – rhythm of fireworks, volume of effects and quality of construction
  • Correlation of Music – choice of music, synchronization of effects, adaptation of moods

Location: English Bay, Vancouver

Start time: 10:00 p.m. rain or shine

Best viewing points: English Bay, Kitsilano, Vanier Park, Jericho Beach.

The event is free to watch from public parks and beaches. Music simulcast begins at 10:00 p.m. on radio station SHORE 104fm.