10 Top Tips for your Canyon Lights Visit
An original 2022 story sponsored by Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
It’s a beloved festive tradition for many locals and visitors. But if you're a returning fan or even an excited newbie, how do you make the most of your time at Canyon Lights––the sparkling winter wonderland that transforms Capilano Suspension Bridge Park throughout the holidays?
Now open for its 15th season and running until January 22 next year, the 2022 edition––with countless glittering bulbs adorning its towering trees, elevated attractions and that legendary swaying walkway––is arguably bigger and better then ever this time around.
But before you book the tickets for your jolly jaunt over to North Vancouver, read on for our road-tested rundown of 10 top practical tips. Each is aimed at making your Canyon Lights visit the tree-topping highlight of your 2022 festive season.
1. Best time to go
Canyon Lights opens at 11am daily. But don't wait until it gets dark before you head over. Instead, arrive a bit earlier and enjoy Capilano's daylight side as well. Then stick around for the twinkling lights to take over. Whenever you arrive, your ticket is valid until closing time.
Alternatively, it can be quieter between 7.30pm and the park’s 9pm closure. And weekdays are always less crowded. Keep in mind that Canyon Lights is especially popular from mid-December to early January, so visiting earlier in the season or after the kids return to school in January might also be a good idea.
Whenever you decide to come, book your tickets via the Capilano website: you’ll snag the best prices and also ensure entry at the date and time you desire.
2. What to wear
The wintertime North Shore is typically chillier (and sometimes rainier) than Vancouver. Dressing appropriately is vital––especially if you have kids in tow. Make sure everyone in your group is wearing layers including a warm, waterproof coat. Hats, gloves and scarves are also recommended. Don’t forget that sensible outdoor shoes are also essential. And on the coldest winter days, long underwear is never a bad idea (trust us!).
3. Must-see highlights
Alongside its illuminated foliage and glittering suspension bridge (stretching 137 metres across the inky-dark canyon), explore Treetops Adventure––seven smaller bridges between several huge trees––plus the Cliffwalk rockface pathway. During Canyon Lights, both are studded with lights. And look up for the gaggle of massive Douglas firs striped with cascading illuminations––you can also walk between them on the Treetops bridges.
But that’s not all. On the other side of the suspension bridge, a gaggle of magical shimmering globes rises above and around the pond. And this year the Nature’s Edge Boardwalk descends to a brand new display: a series of colourful, ever-moving halos of light.
4. Taking great photos
Before leaving home, experiment with the night-shot camera settings on your phone. It’s easy to snap disappointing images of evening illuminations (we’ve been there!), so be prepared before you arrive.
Once you’re here, you’ll find designated camera spots on either side of the bridge for those perfect sparkling span photos. Cliffwalk’s Arc de Lumina light tunnel is also great for selfies (keep in mind that selfie sticks are not permitted at Capilano, though). There are also photo-ready installations around the site, including an oversized Rudolph and a huge, bow-topped picture frame––these are ideal for festive photos you can send to friends and family.
5. Keeping the kids happy
Canyon Lights is an excellent family-friendly attraction. Make sure your kids are dressed warmly (it makes all the difference), then check out all the onsite activities for them. Pick-up a free activity booklet from Treetops Adventure––when they complete all the tasks, they’ll be rewarded with a critter sticker. Canyon Lights activities include identifying animals from their tracks on a screen and making Christmas tree ornaments with stencils, stamps and crayons.
And don’t forget to partake of the Snowy Owl Prowl. It’s a scavenger hunt where you have to spot the glowing owls hiding around the park. Complete a ballot with your family’s location guesses for a chance to win a grand prize.
6. Don’t miss the music
There will be toe-tapping live holiday music at Canyon Lights once again this year. These mini-concerts are scheduled to run every hour from 4:30pm to 8:30pm until January 1. Feel free to sing along to some of you favorite festive songs!
7. Eat, drink and be merry
There are several ways to fuel up and warm up here. Hot chocolate, coffee and more are available at takeout counters––we recommended Baileys hot chocolate at the Loggers’ Grill. If you’re peckish, the nearby Beary Waffles counter offers lots of fun waffle varieties.
Hungry for a sit-down meal? The lodge-like Cliff House bistro serves West Coast comfort dishes such as fish and chips and pulled pork sandwiches. In winter, their belly-warming seafood chowder is highly recommended. There’s also a full array of libations, including arguably the tastiest mulled wine in the region.
Keep in mind that reservations are not accepted at the Cliff House. We suggest heading straight there when you arrive to snag a table. If they’re already full, they can add your name to a waitlist and call you wherever you are in the park as soon as a table becomes available.
8. Great shopping
Capilano’s huge Trading Post Gift Store has been transformed over the past two years. Alongside their classy souvenirs (they’ve always been a cut above typical tourist items), there are top-notch clothing and jewellery products to check out.
We also love the new focus on locally sourced items––the kind that make excellent Christmas stocking stuffers. Look for the animal-themed Native Northwest-brand tree ornaments––the purple owl is our favourite––plus the colourful Fiona’s Handmade Soaps, created in North Vancouver.
9. Getting here
There’s a limited amount of onsite parking here. Instead, take the free Capilano shuttle bus that runs frequently to and from downtown Vancouver during park operating hours––check this page for the latest schedule. Alternatively, transit bus 236 from North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay stops right outside the park.
10. Extra tips
Need more? We’ve gathered some additional quick-hit tips to improve your 2022 Canyon Lights visit. There’s a row of individual-access washrooms near the pond on the other side of the bridge and they are rarely busy. And if you’d like to escape the crowds a little, we’ve found the Nature’s Edge Boardwalk trail is often comparatively tranquil––and a great way to commune with the trees. One final tip? Arriving before the light fades gives you a good chance of spotting a bald eagle or two in the canyon!
If you go: Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park runs daily until January 22, 2023 (except Christmas Day). If you are a B.C. resident, your ticket also includes an annual pass, valid for the next 12 months. For more information and to book your Canyon Lights tickets, click on the advert above or visit the official website.