Vancouver Summer Fireworks: Celebration of Light in Vancouver, BC

Celebration of Lights, fireworks display at English Bay, Vancouver, BC
••• Lijuan Guo Photography / Getty Images

If there is one event that defines summer in Vancouver, it's the Honda Celebration of Light international fireworks competition and festival: three nights of the best fireworks displays you've ever seen.

Since 1990, the annual Celebration of Light has become one of the most prestigious fireworks competitions in the world, attracting the world's best fireworks pyrotechnicians and designers. The 2015 Celebration of Light fireworks competition featured tour-de-force performances from China, Brazil, and Canada; the 2016 competitors have not yet been announced.

  • When: Saturday, July 23, 2016
    Wednesday, July 27, 2016
    Saturday, July 30, 2016
    All shows begin at 10pm
  • Where: English Bay, Vancouver
  • Getting to the Celebration of Light: Do not drive! On each day of the competition roads into the West End are closed at 7:30pm, and Kits Point is closed at 6:00pm. There will be no parking. Take the sky train, buses, or--if possible--walk. For information on parking for disabled persons, check the site.

Where to Watch the Celebration of Light Fireworks

With over one million people expected to attend the Celebration of Light fireworks, the prime viewing points will be extremely crowded. To get a spot at Downtown's most popular vantage point, English Bay Beach, you must go very early, especially if you have children; adults will be able to enjoy the show even standing in back. If you're willing to put up with the crowds, English Bay Beach is the best place to go: not only do you get the best fireworks views, there are tons of concession stands, food vendors, and good restroom access, too.

If you don't want sand in your shoes, there is limited, ticketed, seating at English Bay Beach. This year, the ticketed seating ($169 per person)--on the Bathhouse roof--is sponsored by The Keg and includes complimentary hors d’oeuvres.

For more places (on land) to view the Celebration of Fireworks, including Vanier Park and Kitsilano Beach, check out the Best Spots to Watch the Celebration of Light Fireworks in Vancouver, BC.

There are also Celebration of Light sightseeing cruises that let you watch the fireworks from the water:

Free Shorefest Concerts Before the Fireworks at English Bay Beach 

Now in its 7th year, the free concert series Shorefest--one of the largest free music concerts in Vancouver--takes place each night of the Fireworks Competition (so, July 23, July 27, and July 30) at Sunset Beach (the beach just south of English Bay Beach; it's within close walking distance). The concerts directly precede the fireworks.

Is the Celebration of Light a Fireworks Competition?

Yes! Though it's modified its name--it was originally called the Celebration of Light Fireworks Competition until --it is actually a competition. In fact, it's the longest-running offshore fireworks competition in the world! The fireworks displays are judged by a panel of industry experts, sponsor representatives, and celebrities, with points awarded for design and artistry, originality, quality, and how well the displays are synchronized with their musical accompaniment.