This is a pitilessly dark time of year, so it’s no wonder that people are driven to excess when it comes to Christmas lighting. Normally I cringe at the over-the-top decorations that suffocate more than adorn houses and the tacky, wasteful competitions for which neighborhood can literally outshine the others.
The prize for lavish displays of Christmas lights in Vancouver goes to the Van Dusen Botanical Garden, and this year I fell prey to its much-ballyhooed extravagance.
It’s a perfect place to walk the garden paths through a pitch black night illuminated by outrageous amounts of colored light, but especially if you go with children. There are hot chocolate and soup stands to warm you against the chill, and regular light and music shows, as if the lights themselves weren’t enough entertainment. Christmas carolers round out the totally immersive experience.
Naturally, there are the usual other divertissements for the holiday in the city: various troupes perform The Nutcracker and an assortment of holiday theater standards, such as A Christmas Carol. But there are also some unusual treats for those inclined towards giving tradition a modern or pop culture twist. How about a karaoke trolley ride or a Carol Dinner Cruise?
I’m hopeful that the combination of December dark, marine life and the holiday lights mania will make a trip to the Vancouver Aquarium extra memorable because that’s where I’ll go next for my break from the dark.