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Here's everything you need to know about the 2023 Celebration of Light

How to get there, food options, live music, and more.

The Celebration of Light will be blowing up Vancouver skies later this month with three nights of fireworks displays from around the world.

Teams from Australia, Mexico, and the Philippines will be lighting up the sky above Vancouver this summer on July 22, 26 and 29. 

While fireworks will fill the sky above English Bay at night, Red Bull will be back this year bringing an air show during the day before each performance starting at 7:40 p.m.

On the ground there's also going to be a lot of activity centered around Morton Park next to English Bay (where the laughing men sculptures are) starting at 2 p.m. July 26 will see performances from a variety of Mexican musicians and dancers, including the Nahualli Folklore Society and Vancouver's Chela Tumbao.

July 29 will see Filipino groups and musicians take the stage, like the Gelo Granados Band and Estella Banez.

While Vancouver's West End has lots of food options, there's going to be even more each fireworks night, with 18 mobile food vendors set up along Beach Avenue including Japadog and Aloha Poke. Vanier Park in Kitsilano will also have some food trucks and carts. 

For those looking for something a little fancier, Inukshuk Point will be set up as an outdoor dining experience featuring food from the competing country each night. Tickets are $191 per person for adults.

There are two other ticketed areas along English Bay; the Scotiabank Lounge ($160 per person) and the Concord Pacific Grandstand (tickets start at $62.70).

What fireworks teams are competing in 2023?

This year's lineup for the city's massive fireworks festival features Howard and Sons Pyrotechnics from Australia, Grupo Avacon from Mexico, and Blue Peacock Fireworks from the Philippines. 

Australia will be up first, on July 22, followed by Mexico on July 26, and the Philippines will wrap it up on July 29.

Howard and Sons is a family-run company that's been around for more than 100 years and has competed twice in Vancouver, at the 1992 and 2016 competitions.

Grupo Avacon is made up of two Mexican companies: Cabo Fireworks Co. and Atomic Professional Fireworks. While Mexico has had teams in the past, this is the first time for Avacon or its partners.

A relatively young company, Blue Peacock started up in 2015, but has already been in a few international fireworks competitions and won awards in Asia and North America. They're the first team in at least 20 years from the Philippines to compete in the Celebration of Light.

Getting around

An expected 400,000 people will watch live from the beach each night. That means traffic control and detours.

"Attendees of the Honda Celebration of Light are advised of bike lane detours and partial road closures on Beach Avenue, starting at 9 a.m. each day of the event. Restricted vehicle access for non-residents of the West End will also be in place from 7 p.m. daily," state organizers online.

Areas west of Thurlow and south of Alberni will be restricted traffic between 5 and 7 p.m. each night. Resident access to the neighbourhood will only be available on Burnaby, Nelson, and Denman streets.

Kitsilano will also see some traffic control in effect.

"Access roads into Kits Point are closed from 6:00 PM. Roads will re-open once crowds have dispersed and police have given their all clear," state organizers.

There's good news for public transit users, though. Increased capacity is planned for SkyTrain and bus service each night.

"The closest SkyTrain stations to the festival are Burrard Station and the Yaletown-Roundhouse station," advise organizers. "Numerous buses travel along Georgia Street to Denman, and the #6 will bring you from Granville Street to Denman Street." 

The False Creek Ferries have also announced increased service on their little blue boats, with ferries leaving every 30 seconds immediately after the fireworks.

"The whole fleet of 17 little blue ferries will be in service to move passengers as quickly as possible," they say in a press release. "Ferries from Sunset Beach (Aquatic Centre ferry dock) to Granville Island, Yaletown, Stamp’s Landing, & the Olympic Village will be sailing until 11:30 p.m."

A look back at Vancouver's fireworks in the summer of 2022

Last year, Canada took on Spain and Japan, with the home nation's team from the Yukon taking the top prize.

“Canada executed their performance to near perfection, taking advantage of the barge space and maximizing the limitations of their equipment to deliver a show we’ll be talking about for years to come,” said Kelly Guille, President of Archangel Fireworks Inc. in a media release last year.

“There wasn’t any moment that didn’t feel carefully curated – the visuals, soundtrack and overall energy was utilized to its full potential."

This article was originally published on April 24, 2023 and has been updated.

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