Vancouver is a beautiful city. Nestled against the Pacific Ocean on the west coast of Canada, it has views of both the ocean and the Rocky Mountains. What more could you ask for? Well, how about one of the most amazing Christmas light displays in the world?
I was lucky to be able to travel to Vancouver recently for a business trip. I had some downtime in the evenings, and though I was pretty tired, I wasn’t going to miss the opportunity to get out and see the town. Great eats, natural beauty and some incredible attractions mean you never really run out of things to do in Vancouver. But being there during the holiday season, there were a few special opportunities I just couldn’t pass up.
One of those was Canyon Lights; it’s a light festival that runs for a couple months each year during the holiday season. During the festival, the city takes what is already an incredible experience – the Capilano Suspension Bridge Park – and amps it up (literally) with over a million Christmas lights. If you’re not familiar with the Capilano Suspension Bridge itself, here it is during the day.
And here it is again during Canyon Lights. Completely different, and, if you’re afraid of heights like me, completely terrifying. But it wasn’t so much the bridge I was interested in seeing – it was what lies beyond.
The park consists of more than just the bridge. The bridge itself extends across a wide canyon to a path that leads through the rainforest on the other side. This forest boasts some of the tallest trees in the world, Douglas Firs. Walking the path and seeing them lit up from roots to canopy was completely, utterly surreal. I had to stop and pause several times just to convince myself I was actually seeing what I was seeing. These pictures just don’t do it justice, but they were the best I could do with my camera phone (I know, why the hell didn’t I bring my DSLR?!).
After descending from the treetop path and planting my feet firmly on solid ground, I made my way over to a glassy pond. Above it were strung dozens of white globes, lit up like so many full moons on a clear night. With the reflection on the water, it was as if I left this planet and stepped into another world. I just stared, transfixed, for who knows how long.
When I finally snapped out of it, I began making my way back to the bridge to head home. As I walked, I thought about how someone had to physically climb these trees and wade into the pond to string the lights. Whoever you are, thank you – you’ve made something that was already beautiful into something completely dazzling.
Crossing the bridge the second time, it swayed side to side in the breeze. As I looked over the edge of the railing to the canyon below (also lit up with spotlights), I had to stop for a second and cling to the guardrail. Did I mention I’m afraid of heights? I was glad to get to the other side so I could hop on a bus and head back to my hotel.
I woke the next day wondering if I had dreamed the entire experience. The crappy photos I took don’t do it justice, unfortunately. It’s these moments – the ones where you experience something so amazing you begin to question if it was even real – that I live for.
Wrapping it Up
I’m so proud to live in Canada. Beyond our standard of living, we have one of the most diverse landscapes and populations out of anywhere in the world. From the Vancouver coastline, to the Rocky Mountains of Alberta, to the serenity of the Saskatchewan prairies, to the rugged beauty of Newfoundland and the East coast, to the tundra of the arctic, we have it all.
And what I’ve found is that I can’t really appreciate the country as a whole – it’s best done pocket-by pocket. Rather than trying to focus on the entire forest, Canada is best appreciated tree by tree. And you know what? When they’re showcased as beautifully as the ones in Vancouver, that’s really not hard to do.