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Festival Of Stars At Christmas

Updated on November 13, 2014

"In The Lane, Snow Is Glistening!"

When I was a kid, I wondered about the whole idea of the "snow glistening" in that great song, Winter Wonderland - what did they mean? Now, as an adult, I understand completely what made the snow glisten and I'm here to tell you all about it: Christmas Lights.

Of course, the fact that the snow is crystallized helps the whole process.

On the west coast of Canada, Christmas lights are a big deal. At the beginning of November there are already houses with full Christmas regalia, lighting up the night. At VanDusen Botanical Gardens, home of the Festival of Lights, volunteer gnomes, elves, and professional wizards (gardeners) begin testing strings of lights in mid October, all in preparation for the nights of magic that happen in the garden in December.

Photo Credit: Raymond Chan, Photomedia

All Writing is Copyright by Me - Teapixie! :)

The Many Faces of "Winter Wonderland"

There are a multitude of versions of this song in the world. I invite you to purchase the karaoke version so that you can sing this song in your very own style this Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all!

Photo Credit: Raymond Chan, Photomedia

Do You Love Christmas Lights?

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Spirit Elves

Arriving at the Festival of Lights is like walking into a magical land where you might believe it is Christmas all year 'round, that fantastical place you dreamt of as a kid where dreams come to life. Each year I visit, I get this overwhelming feeling that peace on earth is possible, that there really can be goodwill towards each and every human being, and that gingerbread men can come to life. I know, it sounds a little fantasy-like but that's because it is.

But as anyone who hangs lights around their house knows -- the lights don't get hung by magic. At VanDusen the professional gardeners hang the 1.4 million tiny lights with notable care because the plants upon which the lights are hung are exceptionally valuable. The Festival of Lights only happens from December to January 1 (closed on Christmas Day), but the gardens are on display year-round. Get more info here: FESTIVAL OF LIGHTS

My daughter thinks it's funny that everyone goes to this event to see the lights rather than the plants. But she's also disappointed because her favourite part of the garden, the MAZE, is not lit up for the kids. She wishes it was included, but realizes how difficult it would be to enrobe the whole garden in lights. She particularly enjoys the hot chocolate (kids love food!) and how the lights are set to dance to music.

Photo Credit: Raymond Chan, Photomedia courtesy of VanDusen Botanical Garden

Photo Credit: Raymond Chan, Photomedia courtesy of VanDusen Botanical Garden

Have You Ever Been To A Light Festival?

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Smiley Frosty

And this event is creepily happy. It's not that faux happiness you get with people who play the role of a happy elf (but there are CRAZY elves here); everyone who goes to this event is happy. It's the effect the fantasy-land thing has on each and every person - people smile at each other, even if they've never met.

Had a bad day? Who would know? Just decided to move off the grid and avoid humanity? Can't tell, and being here might just change your mind about the humanity thing, if only for one day.

And I mean every person comes to this event; Gramma and Poppa, Mom and Dad, Lover's Leapers, Teenagers, and lots and lots of Kids. This is one of those activities that even the most jaded teenager wouldn't turn up their nose at the chance to attend.

Visiting The Festival of Lights just once can change your whole feeling about Christmas. For some, the happy feelings are so overwhelming that they are moved to propose marriage. I'm guessing this happens mostly in the Lover's Lookout - we humans are definitely predictable. I haven't gotten that crazy, myself, but I know it's possible and I only hope that all of those proposals are not regretted in the light of day. Heh.

Photo Credit: Raymond Chan, Photomedia

A Few Of My Favourite Things....

I have so many favourite parts of this event. I love, love, love the way the lights are mirrored on the waterways. I can never remember which light show is given which name, but I'm providing you with a video so you can see, for yourself, exactly what I am talking about.

If you want to give yourself a short treat, open this video to full screen and try to imagine, this garden is 22 hectares or 55 acres in size. That's 266,200 square yards or many football fields. This video only focuses on one particular spot in the gardens, but the whole place gets lit up!

All The Emotions of Christmas

The Polar Express. To hear the music is to feel the feelings evoked by this fabulous, fantastical movie. I was introduced to the story by a retired grade 3 teacher who used to pass a special bell around her class at Christmas, just to see who could still hear the bell.

I still hear it.

Get Your Christmas Groove On

Each year my little family travels around our city looking for houses dressed for Christmas. It tickles my toes that so many people have chosen to decorate with LED lights.

I have to admit, it feels somewhat inconsistent to string lights and then be concerned about environmental impact, but I believe that every little decision counts. There truly is a huge value in the gifts of generosity and neighbourliness that we express through the decoration of our houses with lights and choosing to give those gifts in environmentally informed ways doesn't hurt.

As you can see from the video above, the lights that get strung make more than little kids smile, they make everyone smile, no matter their religious beliefs.

Photo Credit: Jim Jorgenson JorgPhoto Photomedia courtesy of VanDusen Botanical Garden

Come See What I'm Talking About!

Are you visiting Vancouver and looking to see the lights this Christmas? Here's a link to info about the movie, Deck The Halls that was shot in Cloverdale, British Columbia and around Metro Vancouver. While many films are shot here, this is one that will give you an idea of the light shows that happen in this part of the world.

The bubbles below show VanDusen Botanical Gardens and Cloverdale.

A marker -
Cloverdale, British Columbia
get directions

Behind The Lights

It's not just people behind those lights! Deep in the heart of the city of Vancouver, British Columbia, is a golf-course come botanical garden. It is upon the many thousands of precious plants that the sparkling night lights are tenderly strung. At Christmas this garden is a breath of fresh air, a contrast to the busy sidewalks, city sidewalks, dressed in holiday cheer.

The rest of the year, it is purely a breath of fresh air. My daughter's tiny trike has happily travelled the pathways of the garden while I have enjoyed watching the seasons turn, visiting special garden events, and learning in the library.

But, what about those lights? Long before the arrival of modern-day religion, lights shon in the depths of winter to literally, "Light Up The Night!" It makes so much sense to me. When solstice arrives in December, I can't seem to turn on enough lights. It was a historic practice to scare off the deep, dark depths of the shortest day of the year (measured in amount of sunlight).

It is why people of all walks of life love the lights. Unlike the Black Bear, we don't hibernate. Anything that allows us to be out a little longer, to enjoy the company of others for extra hours in the day in winter, is worth attending and worth cheering about. Whether it be a light festival or the stringing of a single strand of lights on a bush, walkway, tree, or doorway.

Photo Credit: Raymond Chan, Photomedia courtesy of VanDusen Botanical Garden

Do You Hang Outdoor Christmas Lights?

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Photo Credit: Teodoro S Gruhl

Do You Use LED Outdoor Christmas Lights?

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WiseGeek.Org Answers: What Are Led Christmas Lights?

"A string of LED Christmas lights uses about 1/10th of the electrical current of mini incandescent lights. This means that not only are they less expensive to use, more strands can be connected together without overloading the circuit. LEDs are also much cooler than traditional lights because they don't need the heat to glow. Holiday lights are linked to about 150 home fires each year [USA], and although not all are linked to the heat generated by such lights, LEDs are thought to be safer."

I would love to think that it's Christmas everyday, but it's not. That's just the plain truth, but maybe that's why this time of year is so special. It's like a fresh vase of flowers -- so sweet and wonderful when straight from the garden!

What kinds of things do you do to get yourself in the Christmas spirit? The Festival of Lights is one my family's favourite events for just getting that "good feeling all over." We also make a pact to finish our shopping 1 week before Christmas, so as to avoid the real chaos that can happen. It's hard enough to do grocery shopping during that week.

Do you have any tips you can share with us for making Christmas a spectacular experience?

A Feeling In The Air!

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    • profile image

      Jodi 2 years ago

      Your website has to be the elrectonic Swiss army knife for this topic.

    • PaigSr profile image

      PaigSr 3 years ago from State of Confussion

      For me it can be just plain blue lights on the indoor tree. The wife likes color and the son wants lights all around the outside of the house.

    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      @TransplantedSoul: Yes. That is so true. Where I live the snow didn't make much of a visit this year. We are looking at spring now, so I'll hold on for next year!

    • TransplantedSoul profile image

      TransplantedSoul 4 years ago

      Stars and snow are an unbeatable combination.

    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 4 years ago

      @OhMe: OhMe! Thank you so much. I truly appreciate the honour you have bestowed on this article.

    • OhMe profile image

      Nancy Tate Hellams 4 years ago from Pendleton, SC

      What a beautiful page. I sure enjoyed the Festival of Stars virtual tour. Thanks.

    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @Thamisgith: Thank you, Thamisgith!

      Ohhhh - you are tweaking my childhood memories of driving into the city to shop for Christmas and being in awe of the Hotel Vancouver, which is lit up every night. It has a copper roof that has oxidized to a green patina and it looks amazing when lit up. And other buildings would put Christmas trees on their roofs all strung with lights. They still do it.

      Thank you so much for sharing your childhood experience and bringing back my memories.

    • profile image

      Thamisgith 5 years ago

      Lovely lens - and very topical. Travelling from a small town in the Highlands of Scotland to Glasgow, so that we could see the Christmas lights, was an annual treat for me when I was growing up. The lights today are much better of course - but I was impressed when I was young!

    • favored profile image

      Fay Favored 5 years ago from USA

      Christmas without lights is like celebrating the holiday without Christ the author of light. It just isn't natural. Love lots of lights.

    • Teapixie LM profile image
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      Tea Pixie 5 years ago

      @SusanDeppner: Susan52, you are "right on the money!" LED Christmas lights are great for saving money and energy AND for creating that Christmas spirit. Thank you so much for stopping in.

    • SusanDeppner profile image

      Susan Deppner 5 years ago from Arkansas USA

      Christmas lights appear here in our area usually starting Thanksgiving night and yes, they do a great job of putting me in a great Christmas spirit! We were talking about how to decorate just the other day. Maybe LED lights would be a good choice. I'm all for saving money and energy!