Our 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.
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.
So 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.
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.
The 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.
And 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.
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!