Halloween hasn't even passed yet, but in our opinion, it's never too early to start getting excited for the holidays.
Though many festive traditions may look a little different this holiday season thanks to COVID-19, Vancouverites now have one sparkling (and socially distanced!) activity to look forward to this year.
The popular VanDusen Festival of Lights is officially set to return next month for its 36th annual event, the City of Vancouver announced Thursday.
The Festival of Lights, kicking off on Nov. 27 and set to run until Jan. 3, will once again turn the VanDusen Botanical Garden 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.
It's especially exciting news considering that Glow in the Garden, an annual haunting that takes guests on a whimsical journey through VanDusen Botanical Garden each October, was called off this year as a result of the coronavirus pandemic.
According to the City, "VanDusen Botanical Garden staff have worked closely with Vancouver Coastal Health and the Provincial Health Officer to ensure the event can be experienced safely during the COVID-19 pandemic," leading to a variety of new safety protocols.
That means a few traditional features of the event will not return this year, "in order to reduce touch point features and limit gathering within the garden," the City explained. As such, the carousel, photos with Santa, live entertainment, the Make-A-Wish candle grotto, and the dancing lights show will not be part of this year's festival.
The event will operate at around 20 per cent of its usual capacity, while a new one-way, outdoor path will route visitors through the memorable holiday experience, beginning at Gate 2 (at the west end of the parking lot), with the Visitor Centre serving as the exit.
In addition, visitors will have to pre-purchased tickets, which will be subsequently scanned through plexiglass. No ticket sales will take place on-site.
Visits to the VanDusen Festival of Lights will be subject to a time limit of 45 minutes, while access to the Visitor Centre washrooms will only be available as guests exit the event. (Portable washrooms and hand washing stations will be available in the parking lot and inside the garden.)
Masks are currently optional, and visitors are encouraged to wear them.
Scroll through the gallery above to check out some of the stunning light displays from last year's event.
VanDusen Festival of Lights
When: Sat., Nov. 27, 2020 - Sun., Jan. 3, from 4 - 9:30 p.m. daily (closed on Christmas Day)
Where: VanDusen Botanical Garden – 5251 Oak Street, Vancouver
Cost: $8-$14. Tickets will go on sale in early November, and can be purchased online here.
- With a file from Elana Shepert