For more than a quarter century, the Honda Celebration of Light fireworks festival has been the highlight of summertime in Vancouver, drawing over a million people to beaches and seaside parks over the span of three nights.
For this year’s event, it begins on Saturday, July 29 when AKARIYA Fireworks lights up the night sky over English Bay to represent Japan. This will be followed by the United Kingdom on Wednesday, August 2, staged by Jubilee Fireworks, and then Canada on Saturday, August 5 by Royal Pyrotechnie.
Each show starts at 10 pm sharp, rain or shine, and to celebrate Canada 150 each of the three shows will be three minutes longer than usual to accommodate a special Canadian song segment. All three shows will run a total of 28 minutes each.
As well, for two nights only, a pre-fireworks air show over English Bay will entertain thousands of beachgoers. Mrazek Airshows will take to the skies at 7:45 pm on Saturday, July 29 and Saturday, August 5.
English Bay Beach
Brave the crowds, everyone needs to experience the fireworks at English Bay at least once. You have to arrive early to secure a spot – nothing comes close to the lively atmosphere of English Bay during the Honda Celebration of Light.
English Bay Beach is by far the best spot for the fireworks as the barge is positioned to provide the crowds at the beach with the best views while other locations might provide a ‘side view’ of the fireworks. Additionally, the barge is also just 250 metres from the beach shoreline.
For those looking for a more comfortable and premium viewing experience, Honda Celebration of Light organizers have a number of lounge options available in the English Bay Beach and Sunset Beach area.
If you want a date night for fireworks, this is the perfect location. Start off the evening with a picnic and just like the name says, watch the sunset before the fireworks show.
Please note that the festivities and concerts normally held at Sunset Beach have been moved to Second Beach this year.
Stanley Park Seawall (Second Beach)
Second Beach at Stanley Park has always been one of the optimal locations for viewing the fireworks. And beginning this year, this location is getting a big boost by becoming the new location of a major nightly concert venue, Park Stage, replacing Sunset Beach’s traditional role.
Within this new free festival zone, live music will also be complemented by food trucks, the REMAX Family Zone, sponsor activations, and liquor between 2 pm and 9 pm. Over two dozen artists will perform at the Park Stage, including The Boom Booms and Julian Taylor Band.
This area is also known for hosting the summertime free outdoor movies.
Kitsilano and Point Grey
If you’re in Kitsilano, this is the place to take in the dazzling show. Located on the opposite side of English Bay from downtown Vancouver, Vanier Park is usually packed during the fireworks but if you head down there a bit early, you can score some of the best spots.
Burrard Bridge is just to the east of Vanier Park and is typically an ideal place to watch the fireworks. However, as the bridge deck is currently a construction zone, it will not be an optimal location to see the shows in 2017.
If you want something a bit calmer, you can avoid the hustle and bustle of downtown at Kitsilano Beach. It’s just west of Vanier Park. You’ll find it quite busy on a sunny afternoon but once it calms down, you should be able to snag a spot on the sandy shore.
Jericho Beach has some of the best vantage points for the fireworks, especially for those who want to avoid the big crowds. This is the place for you if you live in the Vancouver Westside.
It’s a bit further away from downtown Vancouver, but the pier at Dundarave Beach is great for families and has a view like no other. Please note that the fireworks are partially obscured by Stanley Park from Ambleside Beach.
Cypress Mountain Viewpoint
Cypress Mountain Viewpoint, approximately one-third up the way on Cypress Bowl Road, provides a unique view of Vancouver’s Honda Celebration of Light, Canada Day, and New Year’s Eve fireworks. Of course, only head to this location if the skies are clear – you don’t want to be in the clouds.
However, please note that capacity at this location is extremely limited and the only way to get here is by vehicle. It is strongly advised that you come very early to save a spot, and if there are no spaces you will still have plenty of time to head to your ‘Plan B ‘ viewing location.
Schedule and nations:
- Saturday, July 29: Team Japan, represented by AKARIYA Fireworks
- Wednesday, August 2: Team United Kingdom, represented by Jubilee Fireworks
- Saturday, August 5: Team Canada, represented by Royal Pyrotechnie
Time: 10 pm to 10:28 pm (28-minute duration each night). Rain or shine. Music simulcast on radio station LG 104.3 FM.
Location: English Bay, Vancouver
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