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Festival of Lights, Stanley Park Christmas Train cancel 2020 events due to COVID-19 restrictions

Two more mainstay holiday traditions in Vancouver are pulling the plug this year as a result of extended COVID-19 restrictions on events in B.C.
Festival of Lights 2
Vancouver's VanDusen Festival of Lights has now cancelled its 2020 event due to B.C.'s COVID-19 restrictions. Photo courtesy of the City of Vancouver

Two more mainstay holiday traditions in Vancouver are hitting pause on 2020 altogether now as a result of extended COVID-19 restrictions on events in British Columbia.

The Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden and the Bright Nights Stanley Park Christmas Train announced Monday night they are both pulling the plug on their planned 2020 festivities. 

Festival of Lights at VanDusen Botanical Garden

The Festival of Lights had been expected to get underway Nov. 27 and run through Jan. 3, and would have found the gardens transformed into a full-blown winter wonderland, illuminating 10 acres of magical garden space with more than one million twinkling lights, complete with themed areas, unique light features, and holiday music.

On Dec. 7, however, organizers announced the event - on pause due to the restrictions previously implemented in November affecting seasonal events - is now cancelled completely.

"All ticket holders will be automatically refunded by TicketLeader on Friday, December 11. Please note that it may take 10 to 14 days for the refund to appear on your credit card statement," indicates VanDusen Botanical Garden in their announcement.

"We wish you and your families a safe and happy holiday season and hope to see you at the garden soon!"

Bright Nights in Stanley Park

Though organizers had scaled back the event to feature just the illuminated train ride and not the activation in the plaza, due to the extension of the public health order from Dec. 7 through Jan. 8, 2021, Bright Nights has had to call the whole thing off. 

"We thank you for your understanding during this time, as we know this will be a disappointment for many of you who choose to make Bright Nights a treasured yearly tradition," noted organizers in the announcement.

People who had already purchased tickets will get an automatic refund, though Bright Nights organizers say that could take up to 14 days to appear on your credit card statement. 

The Bright Nights event is also a fundraiser for the BC Professional Fire Fighters Burn Fund, and some ticketholders may wish to make a donation regardless. Organizers of the popular Christmas Train event are urging those who wish to contribute to donate to Burn Fund directly or to enter their online 50/50 draw.

Which events can go on?

In her COVID-19 case update and public health order announcement Monday, Dec. 7, B.C. provincial health officer Dr. Bonnie Henry explained the exceptions to the orders, allowing for some car-centric events to continue, with stipulations. The details are as follows: 

Drive-in and drop-off events

Drive-in and drop-off events may proceed with a limited number of people and a COVID-19 Safety Plan in place. You can have a maximum of 50 cars in attendance. People must stay in their cars. This includes:

Drive-in events

  • Religious services
  • Holiday festival of lights

Drop-off events

  • Holiday hampers
  • Toy drives

All drive-in and drop-off events must:

  • Maintain physical distancing 
  • Control the entry and exit points
  • Avoid congestion of cars and congregating of people

Drive-thru events

Uncontrolled drive-thru events are suspended, as cars continually moving through a venue may exceed 50 at one time. 

Operators of drive-thru events can only continue to operate if they restrict the number of cars to 50 at one time. For example:

  • A drive-thru Christmas light show cordons off 50 cars, who can then proceed through the event

Currently, in the Lower Mainland, examples of drive-through holiday light events include WinterLights at the PNE grounds in Vancouver and Glow in Langley.

With files from Elana Shepert, Megan Lalonde, and the Canadian Press

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