For most cities, one night of summer fireworks would be enough.
Vancouver takes it to another level with its annual three-night fireworks showdown at English Bay, the Honda Celebration of Light.
This year, teams from the United Kingdom (Saturday, July 27), Canada (Wednesday, July 31) and Thailand (Saturday, Aug. 3) will compete for the coveted fireworks crown. Each squad has 30 minutes to dazzle crowds with their most stunning pyrotechnics. Shows start promptly at 10 p.m. and are carefully choreographed to a musical soundtrack broadcast on Shore 104.3 FM.
An estimated 400,000 people turn out for each of the three free fireworks shows. The best spots on English Bay beach fill up hours beforehand, with people staking their claims with blankets and beach chairs. As the afternoon progresses and the crowds filter in, the real party starts.
Live music will be featured on two separate stages – at English Bay and nearby Sunset Beach – as part of Shorefest. The free performances start at 5 p.m. and continue until the fireworks start. Headliners include the Canadian art-pop quintet Mother Mother, Juno-award-winning singer Serena Ryder and local reggae rocker Daniel Wesley.
A selection of the city’s best food carts parks right along the beach, keeping crowds well fed with Vancouver’s award-winning street food. Meanwhile, the July 31 and Aug. 3 shows feature a special Red Bull Airshow. At 8:10 p.m., air race pilot Pete McLeod will buzz the audience in a single seater Eagle 540 plane, performing acrobatic dives and loops above English Bay.
As in past years, the 2013 Celebration of Light offers two exclusive paid viewing areas. For $54.75, you can reserve yourself one of the best seats in the house at the YVR Observation Deck, a set of metal bleachers on the grassy hillside above English Bay. For more of a party atmosphere, check out the Keg Lounge on the English Bay Bathhouse roof. Tickets ($129) get you complementary welcome drinks and hors d’ooeuvres, as well as VIP seating for the live music and the fireworks.
Of course, there is also plenty of free seating for the show, which can be seen from anywhere along English Bay, as well as from Vanier Park, Kitsilano Beach and as far as Dundarave Pier in West Vancouver, not to mention from boats on English Bay. Stay tuned for a special post on the top five best spots to watch the fireworks.
Shortly after sunset, at 10 p.m., the first explosions up the night sky. The pyrotechnics are launched from a special barge anchored in the bay and continue non-stop for a half-hour, culminating in a deafening finale. Be sure to bring a small radio so you can tune into the corresponding soundtrack on Shore 104.3 FM.
Judges evaluate each performance based on general concept, colour, originality, quality of production and correlation of music. After all the shows, you can also log onto the Celebration of Light website to add your vote.
The 2013 Celebration of Light fireworks begin at 10 p.m. sharp on Saturday, July 27, Wednesday, July 31, and Saturday, Aug. 3, at English Bay beach.
What’s your favourite memory of the Celebration of Light fireworks? Let us know below.
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