Thousands expected in downtown Vancouver with return of Celebration of Light, Pride Parade

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The fireworks display pictured from English Bay during the Celebration of Light in 2017. The Celebration of Light is returning Saturday after a pandemic hiatus.  (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC - image credit)
The fireworks display pictured from English Bay during the Celebration of Light in 2017. The Celebration of Light is returning Saturday after a pandemic hiatus. (Gian-Paolo Mendoza/CBC - image credit)

Vancouver's summer season is about to kick off in a big way, with two of the biggest events of the year taking place over the next two weekends: the Honda Celebration of Light and the Pride Parade.

The Celebration of Light returns Saturday after a pandemic hiatus, with a spectacle by Team Japan, followed by Team Canada on Wednesday and Team Spain next Saturday.

"This is our milestone 30th anniversary of this event," said executive producer Paul Runnals. "It's two years delayed, of course."

He says special events are planned for the anniversary, including performances by a stunt pilot on each of the three nights of fireworks, and by the Canadian Forces Snowbirds on Wednesday night.

The celebrations will continue into next Sunday from 12 p.m. to 3 p.m., when the Vancouver Pride Parade celebrates its 44th year.

Thousands of spectators are expected to attend each event in the downtown core, making them the biggest events Vancouver has hosted since the pandemic began.

Road closures in effect

Authorities are warning participants to prepare for congestion on roadways, as well as in the waters around False Creek, where boats will be launched for watching the lights show.

"If you're coming into the downtown core and West End by land we encourage people to plan ahead and recognize there will be road closures and it will be difficult to move around," said VPD Sgt. Steve Addison.

He says road closures will be posted on social media well ahead of time.

Vehicle access will be limited to local traffic in Kitsilano and the West End. The City of Vancouver said in a news release that transit, walking or cycling are the best options to get around town for the events.

Translink is increasing service so SkyTrains will run every two to three minutes. They are also adding SeaBus sailings and bus services.

During the Celebration of Light events, the following closures will be in effect:

From 9 a.m. to 7 p.m.:

  • Beach Avenue from Pacific to Davie Street (periodic traffic control for event load-in)

From 7 p.m. to midnight:

  • Davie Street from Denman to Burrard Street

  • Denman Street from Alberni to Beach Avenue

  • Beach Avenue/Pacific Street from Stanley Park to Thurlow Street

During the Pride Parade on July 31, the following closures will be in effect from 7 a.m. until approximately 3:30 p.m.:

  • Thurlow Street from West Georgia to Nelson Street

  • Alberni Street from Bute to Burrard Street

  • Robson Street from Denman to Burrard Street

  • Denman Street from West Georgia to Beach Avenue

  • Beach Avenue/Pacific Street from Denman to Thurlow Street (cyclists are asked to walk their bikes as crowds arrive)

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