Vancouver’s annual fireworks event, the Celebration of Light competition, is back this weekend! Every year, different countries compete with a dazzling array of pyrotechnics over English Bay. This year, the schedule is as follows:
Saturday, July 27th, 2013: United Kingdom
Wednesday, July 31st, 2013: Canada
Saturday, August 3rd, 2013: Thailand
But the Celebration of Light is more than just fireworks. In addition to being the largest offshore fireworks competition in the world, the fireworks are preceded by SHOREfest, a live music concert series, and an airshow featuring pilot Pete McLeod. So where’s the best place to take in all the action?
English Bay Beach
The best view is arguably from English Bay Beach at the end of Davie and Denman Street. Here is where you can catch headliners Serena Ryder, Daniel Wesley, and Mother Mother playing before the fireworks begin, and nearby vendors, restaurants, and washrooms make the location prime. However, be prepared for huge crowds. Arriving early to stake out a spot is a necessity, while driving is not an option. Use Translink to find out about bus route and stop changes during the fireworks and plan accordingly.
The lesser known sister to English Bay Beach, Sunset Beach can be found off Beach Avenue downtown, just south of English Bay Beach. SHOREfest’s second stage is located here, and you can catch shows from acts including Grapes of Wrath and The Deep Dark Woods. While not as popular as English Bay Beach, it is still worth arriving early to grab a good spot at Sunset Beach.
Across the water from English Bay Beach is Vanier Park, a grassy spot with an excellent view of the fireworks. Vanier Park is also very crowded on fireworks night, but it is a great spot to watch the fireworks if you’re not interested in venturing downtown.
Kitsilano Beach, located just west of Vanier Park, is another place to watch the fireworks without having to head downtown. The beach can be crowded during the day, but at night there are less people. While the view of the fireworks is a little farther off than the locations mentioned above, Kitsilano Beach is a better place to watch the fireworks if you want to avoid the crowds or don’t have the time to claim a seat ahead of time.
While it doesn’t have the comfort or amenities of the other locations, Burrard Bridge is another popular place to catch the Celebration of Light. Though you may have to compete for prime viewing (aka the centre of the north side of the bridge), you will be rewarded with an impressive view of the fireworks.
Just remember: no matter where you’re watching the fireworks, please be mindful of your litter and noise levels, especially as many of these locations are right by residential areas. Enjoy the show!