Vancouver Fireworks – the Celebration of Light

Comments 14 by Rebecca Bollwitt

Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr

Love’em or hate’em, the HSBC Celebration of Light fireworks nights are back for another go this summer. It’s outdoors, it’s midsummer and it’s free, not sure how much better things can get except for the fact that you’re sharing this experience with one million other people on the shores of English Bay.

The world’s leading fireworks manufacturers consider the HSBC Celebration of Light international fireworks competition to be the most prestigious events of its kind in the world and an exciting arena where they can unveil the latest pyro-musical techniques and the most innovative fireworks materials. [Celebration of Light]

To observe the spectacle this year park your beach blanket early to reserve a good vantage point and pick your night to go check them out.

  • Wednesday, July 25 — Spain
  • Saturday, July 28 — Canada
  • Wednesday, August 1 — China
  • Saturday, August 4 — Grande Finale
  • Each show is approximately 25 minutes and is centered around a barge floating off the shore in English Bay. They can be viewed from various vantage points from English Bay, Vanier Park, Jericho Beach, out in the water if you have a boat, and the photo below was taken from Cypress Mountain. The event used to be called the “Symphony of Fire” because each presentation is actually put to music that you can turn into on ROCK 101, which you can still tune in and listen to.

    Remember this is a competition afterall, so beginning this year spectators get the chance to vote for their favourite display via text message.

    New this year, YOU can participate in the voting for the HSBC Celebration of Light using your mobile phone! Text LIGHT to 24365 to register. Upon registering, you will receive a text message after each of the 3 competition nights asking you to rate the performance for that evening. Audience text votes each night will be tabulated and submitted as the 7th official judge. [Text to Vote]

    Photo credit: uncleweed on Flickr

    The whole ‘controversy’ stems from residents downtown and in Kits being annoyed by the crowds and noise, although every negative blog post I read about the fireworks last year doesn’t just complain about hundreds of thousands of people – no – they complain that they are coming from the suburbs. (I’ll hold my tongue on that one…) I also hear it’s not the best for the environment with the smoke and loud noise killing little baby birdies’ eardrums. Aside from all of that… it seems to be great for businesses downtown and fun for the whole family.

    I’ve experienced the fireworks as a child. We’d drive out to Kits from Surrey in the family van and have a picnic on the beach. Finding that perfect rock to balance on and watch the display took a little time. And 10 minutes later the tide was in and my butt would be sore so I’d retire up the hill a bit to the blanket my mom had laid out. [Miss604, 2006]

    Last year we met up with Dave O [uncleweed][Canucks Outsider] and his clan for a picnic on a grassy hill and enjoyed a summer sunset. I don’t miss my days of Skytraining back home after the fireworks waiting for hours in a transit mosh pit since the walk back home through the West End is pretty painless – you only have to play Frogger a few times.

    14 Comments  —  Comments Are Closed

    1. fotoeinsFriday, July 13th, 2007 — 4:57am PDT


      Too bad I’m gonna miss the home country’s showing, but I’m gonna consider going to giving China’s performance a lookyloo …

    2. Tyler IngramFriday, July 13th, 2007 — 6:39am PDT

      Woo the Symphony of Fire! Well it will always be called when I refer to it anyway.

      I love going down to English bay but you have to go early if you want a spot on the beach near the water. Just don’t go too close like a lot of people do and have to move when the tied comes in. hehe

      I usually make it a day thing, hang out at the beach all day and stick around for the show. The crowds are INSANE too, imagine 100,000+ people all walking down Davie or whatever street that is that heads towards Stanley Park (I can never remember it..).

      I took the bus home one day.. took 3 hours, 2 of those just to get out of Vancouver and there was standing room only!

      Most of the time I part in the underground parking lot at BCITs downtown campus and walk to the beach. It’s not bad if you don’t mind walking. My aunt used to live on 1st Ave near the Boathouse so parking was pretty easy since I could use her spot, but she’s moved so I won’t be able to take advantage of that.

      I’ve also seen the fireworks from Bard on the Beach, and also from Cyprus Mountain. Anyway I could keep going, I’m just glad they have sponsors to continue doing it every year. It is part of Vancouver!

    3. Tyler IngramFriday, July 13th, 2007 — 6:47am PDT

      Oh another thing:

      It was the Benson & Hedges Symphony of Fire but since Vancouver put that ban on cigarette companies sponsoring (Like the Molsen Indy because they wouldn’t let Players sponsor the cars) events they decided to call it something different when HSBC took over sponsorship (as the main sponsor). I am sure there are other reasons but.. I’ve written enough!

    4. RebeccaFriday, July 13th, 2007 — 7:35am PDT

      hehe you’re right though, they disappeared during that whole “no fun city” fiasco along with the Indy, and restaurant patios.

      The tobacco company sponsorship was taboo so I’m glad HSBC stepped up. Throughout the year if you drove along River Rd in Surrey/Delta you could see the “Benson & Hedges” barge parked out in the Fraser River… I’d get a little excited thinking about the warm summer evenings that come along with it all.

      Last year we missed a day but were walking around in Coal Harbour. We knew when the fireworks started because of the noise and echoing explosions. We wondered what tourists, who didn’t know or couldn’t see that there was such an event, would probably think about the war-zone soundtrack.

    5. gusgreeperFriday, July 13th, 2007 — 9:27am PDT

      sweet Canada is back this year!
      living down here they can be a wee pain at times but are still way better than busting the hump in from the burbs back in the day.
      i sense a facebook event! 🙂

    6. zanstormFriday, July 13th, 2007 — 9:27am PDT

      Wow, it looks as though Uncle Weed has retarded-good photog skills. That second image is awesome!

    7. Keira-AnneFriday, July 13th, 2007 — 10:50am PDT

      The debate over the fireworks will never go away. Myself, I usually begrudingly take in one or two spectacles each year. Being a West End resident, I’d be totally okay if they didn’t happen. In fact, I’d prefer if they didn’t. I, like many other locals, can do without the crowds, noise, garbage and violence. Now, I know that many will be quick to argue “You chose to live in the West End – deal with it!” Let me ask you this though: were the fireworks, for hypothetical reasons, be moved to the Point Grey neighbourhood, do you not think those residents would have the pull to have their voices heard and the fireworks moved out of their neighbourhood?

    8. fotoeinsSaturday, July 14th, 2007 — 6:30am PDT

      In the end, it’s simply nice just to be asked in the first place.

    9. Miss604’s Canuck Life :: A Vancouver Blog » Blog Archive » Fireworks Time and Surrey’s New ByLawMonday, October 29th, 2007 — 2:58pm PDT

      […] While there aren’t too many lawnmowers out downtown, around this time of year it sounds just like you’re living in the suburbs with the explosive warzone-like symphony of firecrackers and fireworks outside your window every night until Halloween (and these ain’t comin’ from a barge off English Bay). […]

    10. sofiaWednesday, July 23rd, 2008 — 11:31am PDT

      Fireworks may be fun but at what cost. Most people are not aware of the risk to health and environment.
      Like EPA stoves, woodsmoke dioxin, causes critical disease.
      The children who suffer from asthma, those who die from exposure, the women with breast cancer,, these people suffer as we all do fro environmental pollution..can we justify the forcing of all to breathe toxic air as “Fun”.

    11. VictorTuesday, July 29th, 2008 — 9:18pm PDT

      I agree with Sofia…wish we could be more realistic and take decisions for a better future for all of us.

    12. EsmondeWednesday, July 30th, 2008 — 12:49pm PDT

      I think the fireworks are a great way for families and friends to enjoy a great night out. I do agree precautions need to be taken in respect to safety and environment as the morality of people these days is very much on a downward trend overall. If your an entrepeneur check out my site, imagine earning an income while sitting watching the fireworks. Depression proof your business with access to any economies world wide.

    13. It’s all About Spooning » Vancouver Blog Miss 604 by Rebecca BollwittWednesday, February 4th, 2009 — 11:08am PST

      […] crowd, but there were certainly fewer people out on the beaches tonight. It was the kickoff of the HSBC Celebration of Light and Spain did a pretty good job of making the crowds ooh, ahh and applaud the colourful display in […]

    14. Celebration of Litter » Vancouver Blog Miss 604 by Rebecca BollwittWednesday, February 4th, 2009 — 11:08am PST

      […] isn’t very good news, which only makes me think of the upcoming fireworks, the Celebration of Light, that attract millions of spectators to the downtown core and surrounding beaches over several […]

    Also on