The Insider's Guide
This original story is from 2018 and was sponsored by Capilano Suspension Bridge Park
It’s long been one of British Columbia’s most popular visitor destinations. But every holiday season, North Vancouver’s Capilano Suspension Bridge Park also transforms into Canyon Lights––a magical walk-through winter wonderland where a shimmering surfeit of jewel-like bulbs adorns its towering trees, lofty attractions and that legendary gently swaying walkway.
Launching its 13th season on November 22, the celebrated sparkle-fest has become an annual tradition for many holiday-hugging locals. But for others, these enchanting illuminations are a fresh experience they’ll be discovering for the first time this year. Whether you’re a keen newbie or a Canyon Lights veteran, here’s our exclusive insider’s guide to making the most of your visit.
What will I see?
Canyon Lights is an outdoor winter illuminations display with an estimated one million glittering bulbs. Alongside its decorated trees and suspension bridge (stretching 137 metres across the canyon), you can also explore the park’s Treetops Adventure––seven smaller bridges linking several huge trees––and its Cliffwalk rockface pathway: both are studded with lights. The centerpiece is a gaggle of eight giant Douglas firs striped with cascading illuminations. Reputedly the world’s tallest living Christmas trees, you can crane your neck and walk between them on the Treetops trail.
Are there any other activities?
A toe-tapping holiday band will be playing festive favourites every hour from 4:30pm to 8:30pm. Each set lasts up to 25 minutes and you’re fully encouraged to join the sing-a-long! There are also plenty of places to eat and drink here plus a huge West Coast-themed giftshop that’s ideal for late-breaking Christmas shopping.
Is there anything extra for kids?
Canyon Lights is a great family-friendly attraction but there are also some added kid-tastic activities. They can decorate gingerbread cookies and create holiday buttons (both by-donation, with all proceeds going to the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund). They can also launch a Snowy Owl Prowl: a self-directed scavenger hunt aimed at spotting the glowing owls hiding around the park. Fill out a ballot with your family’s location guesses for a chance to win weekly Prowl prizes.
What are the food and drink options?
There are several ways to fuel-up at Canyon Lights. Hot chocolate, coffee and more are available at Dr. Wood’s Cabin and the Capilano Coffee Company. Burgers, beer and poutine can be purchased at the Loggers’ Grill. And the Cliff House––a recent park addition––is a full-service bistro offering everything from mushroom ravioli to fish and chips to B.C. craft ales (local Bridge Brewing beers recommended). Note: the Cliff House doesn’t accept reservations, so dine off-peak to avoid the rush.
What are the best times to visit?
Operating daily from November 22 to January 27, 2019, Canyon Lights activities start at 4:00pm each afternoon. Consider arriving earlier to enjoy the park’s daylight side as well––Capilano opens at 11:00am at this time of year and your ticket is valid until closing time no matter what time you arrive.
Alternatively, it’s often quieter from 7:30pm to the park’s 9:00pm 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 on January 7 might be a good idea.
How long should I schedule for my visit?
It depends on you! Up to two hours is typical but dining, shopping and some extra self-snapping strolls across the suspension bridge might make for a longer stay.
What should I wear?
It can be chilly on the North Shore, especially in the dead of winter. It may also be wet. But dressing appropriately can make a huge difference to your visit, especially if you’re bringing children. Ensure everyone in your group is wearing layers plus a warm, waterproof coat. Bring hats and gloves for added toastiness. And don’t forget that sensible shoes, suitable for an outdoor attraction, are essential.
Any great places to snap photos?
Take a few minutes to work out your best camera settings for shooting illuminations at night––it’ll be well-worth it when you look over your photos later. Favourite photogenic areas at Canyon Lights include Treetops Adventure, the large pond in the West Coast rainforest area and Cliffwalk––a particularly good spot for snapping cool images of the suspension bridge’s shimmering span.
How much are the tickets?
Canyon Lights admission prices are: adults $46.95; seniors (65+) $42.95; students (17+ with ID) $34.95; youth (13-16) $27.95; children (6-12) $14.95; kids aged under six are free. Family pass tickets are also available and cost $99 for two adults and two children (aged 6-16). Admission includes all park attractions.
There is also an excellent special deal for locals: B.C. residents buying Canyon Lights tickets or family passes receive unlimited free entry to Capilano Suspension Bridge Park for the next 12 months.
How do I get to the park?
A limited amount of onsite parking is available. Instead, consider the free Capilano shuttle bus that runs to and from downtown Vancouver. It operates every 30 minutes between 10:30am and 9:00pm daily, increasing to every 15 minutes between December 15 and January 6. Shuttle stops include Canada Place, Library Square, the Hyatt Regency and the Blue Horizon. Alternatively, transit bus 236 from North Vancouver’s Lonsdale Quay stops right outside the park.
Anything else I might need to know?
You can bring your stroller into the park but you won’t be able to take it on the bridge or other attractions. Also, babies must be carried below railing level or in a purpose-designed child carrying device. If you have a good, well-behaved dog, you are also welcome to bring it to the park on a leash.
For additional information about visiting the 2018 Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park––or to buy advance tickets––click the advert below or call 604-985-7474 (toll free 1-877-985-7474).