A Japanese Celebration of Light

4500231.banner-mainOur stay in Vancouver coincided with the Honda Celebration of Light, the largest offshore fireworks competition in the world.  Wow, a summer fireworks show sounded like something that we should definitely check out.Celebration of Light  002

This was the 24th consecutive year that Vancouver hosted this competition.  Every year three different countries compete.  And this year the three countries were the United States, France and Japan.  We’d missed the United States display but both France and Japan were competing while we were in town.

Celebration of Light  004Celebration of Light  007So we went into research mode and found that Japan’s show had good seats available; we opted for bleacher seating instead of free viewing from the beach to guarantee a good spot for tripod photography.  And I was able to get seats by the aisle through some messing around on the website.

This event draws lots of tourists as well as locals; crowds are estimated to be between 300,000-400,000!  So the parking situation was bound to be tough, especially since several streets were closing prior to the show.  Although we could take the Skytrain, we figured there would be crowds trying to get on after the show.  So after consultations with a few locals, we planned a driving and cycling combination so we could park away from the event.Celebration of Light  006

The day of the show we parked a few miles from the main event area near the bicycle path along the seawall, rode our bikes over to a free bike valet parking provided just for the event and walked about a quarter mile to the bleachers.  Easy!

The competition is held over a two-week period, with each country’s representative company performing a twenty-five minute fireworks display set to music on one night. The fireworks are set up on a huge barge just across from the West End neighborhood of Vancouver.

Celebration of Light  003The beach area was packed, there was music and tons of food trucks. Also hundreds of boats all around the fireworks barge.  Definitely a happening.  In the bleacher seat area, we had our own bar and our own port-a-potties.  So classy 🙂

Before the show, we noticed several young Japanese ladies in traditional geisha attire.

Akayira Fireworks was representing Japan.  The Japanese anthem played right before the display.  A real Japanese celebration of light.Celebration of Light  048

Celebration of Light  022And then it began. It was unbelievable! I’ll let the photos tell the story.  Unfortunately, the photos can’t show the coordination with the music but there was a very specific mood set and timing to the show.  Not the first show we’ve seen set to music, but definitely the best.Celebration of Light  052Celebration of Light  050Celebration of Light  010Celebration of Light  018

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According to the event website, the competitors are scored by a panel of judges on the basis of five criteria:Celebration of Light  045

General Concept – presentation, structure and scaleCelebration of Light  031Celebration of Light  023

Color (or Colour) – choice and varietyCelebration of Light  009Celebration of Light  015

Originality – design and architectureCelebration of Light  041Celebration of Light  021

Quality of Production – rhythm of fireworks, volume of effects and quality of constructionCelebration of Light  034

Correlation of Music – choice of music, synchronization of effects, variation of moodsCelebration of Light  026

Spectators are allowed to vote as well, but I’m not quite sure how votes are used.Celebration of Light  049

At the end of the show, Hector said “I can’t imagine any of the other displays could possibly be better than that!”Celebration of Light  028

We waited a bit for the crowd to subside and walked over to the bike valet to pick up our bicycles.  Did I mention that the bike valet was free?  What a great service.  The night was beautiful as we cycled back on the trail in the dark with a bunch of other cyclists.  Lots of lights flashing in the night. And we totally missed the traffic jams.  Yes!Celebration of Light  008

Sometime after we left Vancouver, we learned that Japan did in fact win.  So well deserved!Celebration of Light  056

Celebration of Light  060What a fun night in a beautiful city doing something totally unexpected!

~ BrendaCelebration of Light  020

14 thoughts on “A Japanese Celebration of Light

  1. I love when we get to a new location and they are having something special. You hit another jackpot! What amazing fireworks! I imagine the timing with music was very special. Gorgeous fireworks!

    • The timing with music was perfect, and it was great music. I tried to take some videos, but they are not the best quality. And, yes, we hit the jackpot.

  2. So much fun to read of this adventure. The pics were great, but I am thinking they still don’t do the show justice! Beautifully written too!

    • Thank you, yes, the timing with music and the transitions of fireworks were impossible to capture. An amazing show.

  3. You two certainly sparkled in your self portrait. All of the shots are spectacular and I can not even imagine what kind of music accompanied such a great display!

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