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8 Sparkling Highlights of 2021's Capilano Canyon Lights!

An original story sponsored by Capilano Canyon Lights

It’s on almost everyone’s holiday bucket list. But if you’ve never got around to experiencing Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park, 2021 is definitely the time to do it––consider it your reward for last Christmas, when we all stayed home and felt like miserable Scrooges.

 

If this is the year you finally make it to Metro Vancouver’s most happening holiday lights, though, be sure to make the best of your visit. You’ll need to book your timed-entry tickets in advance, of course. And you’ll want to dress warmly for the wintery chill of the North Shore Mountains.

 

But once you arrive, you’ll also be keen to ensure you don't miss anything. And that’s where our illuminating rundown of 2021’s Canyon Lights highlights comes in handy. Ready to create some magical Christmas memories for you and your friends or family? Read on. Book your tickets. Then head on over!

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1. Sparkling Backstory…

I always start my Capilano visits at the covered Story Centre area. Lined with fascinating yesteryear images and heritage artifacts, it tells the unlikely tale of a Victorian rope bridge attraction that grew to become a B.C. must-see. It only takes a few minutes to peruse, but the images of crinolined ladies on the old bridge and the tales of how this attraction was once an adventurous wilderness excursion for olden-days Vancouverites are priceless.

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2. Shimmering Starter…

Turn a corner and you step right into Christmas at Kia’palano. The Skwxwú7mesh name means “beautiful river” and it adorns a prominent welcome sign here, while towering totem poles stand like grand sentinels around the foliage-fringed plaza. Everything is alive with twinkling fairy lights in this area, as if a gathering of multicoloured festive fireflies has taken up residence for the holidays.

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3. Cliffwalk Caper…

It’s tempting to launch straight onto the highly inviting bridge at this point. But I suggest staying on this side of the canyon and diverting to the Cliffwalk first. This rockface-hugging steel walkway takes on a delightful Christmassy vibe at this time of year, complete with its own lights and lofty views of the illuminated trees and canyon below. The highlight? The Arc de Lumina is a walk-through tunnel of swirling lights and colours that invites plenty of selfie-snapping.

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4. Brilliant Bridge…

It’s time to hit the sparkling span! They've been illuminating parts of this gently-swaying canyon crossing––137 metres long and 70 metres above the river––for several Christmases. But this year marks a major milestone: it’s the first time the bridge has been decorated end-to-end with multicoloured changing lights. You’ll be grinning like a giddy elf as you step down and inch through the inky night sky on what looks like a bejewelled floating walkway. Don’t forget to stop partway and drink it all in.

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5. Heads Up…

On the other side of the canyon, commune with the humongous illuminated trees that have been looming ahead of you. Find the entrance to Treetops Adventure and you’ll soon be walking on elevated, lightly-wobbling walkways between the eight tallest Christmas trees in the world. The thick trunks of these behemoth Douglas firs have been adorned for the season with columns of cascading lights. There’s never been a better reason to get a crick in your neck.

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6. Head Down…

Back on terra firma, explore the quieter wooden walkways that snake around the park on this side of the canyon. I love circling the pond––with it’s own artistic light installations––then descending towards the river. On my last visit, I heard the high-pitched screech of eagles calling from the shoreline. Not all the birds here are real, though: Capilano’s Snowy Owl Prowl holiday scavenger hunt invites you to spot avian-shaped light installations throughout the park. Find them all and you can enter to win a Canadian Rockies vacation!

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7. Warm Up…

Whatever the weather, I usually need a warm-up at this point. And the rustic Cabin concession stand––near the bridge entrance on this side––always delivers. It’s a universal fact that hot chocolate tastes better outside and I love wrapping my hands around a steaming beverage here and gazing out at the glowing views around me. Need additional sustenance? Treats are also available here, and you can even snag a great sit-down meal at the park’s bistro-like Cliff House Restaurant (hearty seafood chowder highly recommended).

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8. Christmas Shopping…

Back on the other side of the bridge, I always beeline to the huge, gable-ceilinged Trading Post Gift Store. Ideal for a spot of laid-back holiday shopping, there’s much more than souvenirs to peruse.  Check out the Indigenous-designed jewellery, sought-after Hydro Flask beverage containers and clothing and accessories from the likes of Herschel, Fjällräven and Helly Hansen. And if you need stocking-stuffer plush toys, you’ll find a full range of cuddly critters to consider––perfect for every kid (and almost every adult) on your gift list.

If you go: Canyon Lights at Capilano Suspension Bridge Park runs from November 20, 2021 to January 23, 2022. If you are a B.C. resident, you will receive an annual pass, valid for the next 12 months, after purchasing your regular-priced day ticket. Don’t forget to dress warmly for the season and consider taking the free shuttle bus that runs from downtown Vancouver. For more information and to book your Canyon Lights ticket, click on the linked advert below:

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