My family travels to Vancouver, British Columbia every winter for Boxing Day and my son’s birthday. Each year, Bright Nights at Stanley Park has been on my itinerary and each year we fail to get there. We’ve heard so much about the light display and how festive the whole experience can be. In order to ensure that we experience it, we headed to Vancouver for a “bonus trip” at the beginning of December.
I always do my research before trips, so I diligently scoured the Vancouver Parks & Recreation website to make sure I had the correct information. That’s when I realized that Bright Nights supports the Greater Vancouver Food Bank Society and the BC Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund.
I took my son on the Stanley Park Miniature Train over the summer and we had so much fun! It made it more exciting this time because he knew what to expect and we both were curious about what holiday items we’d see on our journey. The train ride did not disappoint!
We went during the day, so I wasn’t sure if we’d be able to see any lights. I was thrilled that the light display was still impressive against the grey sky! We also saw many favorite Christmas characters, including The Grinch! The train ride is just the right length to feel worth the fare. We paid $6 each for my husband and myself and since both kids were under 3 years old, they were free. The train ride was about 14 minutes long. The train was about 2/3 full and we could have split our tickets (have one adult accompany our toddler for one ride and then switch) but we wanted to experience it as a family.
What impressed me the most was how expansive the decorations were. I thought it was just the area around the train, but the entire area was covered with funky displays! Again, we saw beloved characters, but also lots of Santa displays and reindeer! My son had a fun time pointing out all the elves that seemed to be placed everywhere! I could see how it would be really fun at night time!
While we walked around, I saw several booths for hot chocolate, buttered popcorn and other treats that opened in the evening. They also have live performances at night and photos with Santa starting at 4 p.m. There was also a booth selling glow sticks, which I bet would make a toddler’s night!
7 Tips for Bright Nights at Stanley Park
- There is FREE parking! That’s usually not the case at Stanley Park, so I thought this is worth noting. They also have overflow parking available.
- Take the matinee train. We had no line to board the train and the weather was a bit warmer during the day than at night. We also were able to get amazing parking!
- Leave your dog at home. While service animals are permitted, all other dogs are not.
- Bring a baby carrier. I wouldn’t bother bringing a stroller, unless someone is staying with the baby during the train ride. The Bright Lights plaza is fairly small and it would be difficult to maneuver with a stroller.
- Get 10% off at Vancouver Aquarium. If you show your Bright Nights ticket, you can get 10% off at Vancouver Aquarium (also at Stanley Park.)
- Support the charities. Bring non-perishable food items for the food bank and a suggested $4.00 donation for the Burn Fund.
- Play at the park. There is an adjacent park that is perfect for toddlers/preschoolers. It’s a great place to burn off some energy before getting back in the car.