Getting in the Christmas Spirit Vancouver Style is especially important to me this year as it’s my first Christmas here. Throughout the last few weeks I have done a few Christmassy things but until this week was left feeling slightly underwhelmed and not very festive.
A couple of weeks ago my Christmassy endeavours started with the Christmas Parade that runs through the middle of Downtown Vancouver. Before I accidentally stumbled across it I hadn’t realise there was even a parade about to happen. Stumbling across it was a happy coincidence and the group of friends I was with and I decided to stick around and see what it was like.
After about half an hour of standing about the parade started. It probably didn’t help it was raining but the parade was pretty mediocre except for the odd float that was interesting and actually Christmassy. Overall the whole thing came across as a massive PR stunt for a lot of the major businesses in the area. Although I don’t mind that in theory, it felt like a lot of the Christmassy potential was lost.
The PNE Indoor Christmas Market
The second thing on the list of Christmas trips was to the PNE Christmas Market. Boasting as the largest indoor Christmas Market in Canada with over 100 vendors and a three-storey walk through snow globe, and I was destined to be there. For me there is nothing more Christmassy than a Christmas market to get you in the festive spirit.
Well let’s just say this much, I am very glad I managed to get a free ticket to get into the market because I was more than unimpressed. I could not believe how lacking in ‘wow’ factor it was. Some of the stalls were really interesting but on the whole it could be a market from any time of the year.
The snow globe turned out to be a three-storey inflatable globe that not only lacked the necessity of fake snow but was actually there for people to go into and have their photo taken. The demo prints they had on display weren’t all that great either. The opportunity to go uber Christmassy and get a real Christmas vibe going was certainly missed here and I, and my friends, left feeling very disappointed more hadn’t been made of this potentially great opportunity.
Stanley Park Bright Nights
Thankfully getting into the Christmas spirit was not lost. This Friday just gone I went to Bright Nights at Stanley Park which was the most Christmassy and perfect event to get me in the Christmas mood.
Walking into Stanley Park looking for the Bright Nights area you could be forgiven for thinking there was nothing there. Only once you get a little way into the park do you see the twinkle of Christmas lights through the trees. Keep walking and you are met by the brightest, most wonderful light displays.
For anyone who remembers the film The Snowman I liken finding this event like the scene in The Snowman where the Snowman and Boy go off to the snowman party. In the film they are flying over the ocean and from a distance you can see the twinkle of different coloured lights. As they get closer it opens up into this magical party of snowmen dancing around and singing. Stanley Parks Bright Nights was exactly that minus the snowmen dancing and singing.
Entrance to Bright Nights is by donation only. The lights are all put up and run by Lower Mainland Firefighters and the donations go towards BC Burns Fund, a completely worthwhile cause for such an amazing event.
According to the sign at the entrance it takes 4000 man hours and over 500 firefighters to put up, run and take down the display. Seeing the amazing array of displays that is not hard to believe and it is one of the most magical experiences I have had since being here.
Walking around Bright Nights you cannot help but feel a warmth of Christmas spirit fill you. The displays are varied, interesting and perfectly festive. As with any good Christmas event there are roasted nuts, hot drink stalls, pretzels, curros, and organic popcorn.
The smells, sights and obligatory Christmas music is nostalgic to say the least. Within the Bright Nights event there is also a Christmas train you can take which goes around a lot more Christmas displays. Unfortunately I didn’t get to go on it as it had sold out for the evening but it looked amazing and I am more than tempted to go back just to do the train ride.
If you have not been to Bright Nights you must go and check it out, it is totally worth it. Check out the photos below to see why I now feel like an excited kid coming up to the last few days before Christmas.