Why the Honda Celebration of Light is a can’t-miss event this summer

From live music and food trucks to community events and fireworks, the Honda Celebration of Light is one of Vancouver’s premier events that has something for everyone

Vancouverites and tourists alike will flock to English Bay this summer to see three nights of spectacular fireworks overtake the night skies during B.C.’s largest public event, the 2016 Honda Celebration of Light.

This year’s event will feature three countries with red, white and blue flags: Netherlands kicks off the festival July 23, followed by Australia on July 27 and the grand finale belongs to the U.S. on July 30.

Expect the U.S., who has never won the competition before, to go above and beyond this year. The Walt Disney Company—the world’s largest consumer of fireworks—will compete on behalf of our neighbours south of the border. Although, Australia may be a powerhouse as well. They are being represented by Howard & Sons, whose fireworks displays were showcased during the opening and closing ceremonies of the 2000 Summer Olympics in Sydney. Royal Fireworks will represent Netherlands.

Every year the fireworks and competing countries try and outdo the competition from the year before. This is one of the reasons why locals look forward to the event. However, it’s not just locals that attend the fireworks—considered the longest running offshore fireworks competitions in the world—as tourists will once again be joining in on the all the festivities, pushing the estimated annual attendance towards 1.5 million people.

For Vancouverites the Celebration of Light has special meaning because as an event it has this ability to bring the community together. “The fireworks competition is important, but it’s just as much about people coming together to celebrate in the hours leading up to the event,” says Shelley Frost, vice president, marketing, Pacific National Exhibition.”

Frost points out that there is something during fireworks for everyone. “People enjoy listening to local bands, eating from local food trucks and connecting with neighbours and friends.”

And she’s right. Over the years the three nights of fireworks have turned into much more. For example, SHOREFEST, which is a free beach concert series presented by LG 104.3, occurs during the week of the Celebration of Light. Live music starts in the afternoon on the Sunset Beach stage and then feature performers take over the The Keg Lounge Stage at English Bay.

For Vancouver-based Concord Pacific, the longest running corporate sponsor of the Celebration of Light, the partnership is a perfect fit. “We are so proud of this event. It has such a large impact on the city not only for locals and visiting friends and family, but it also positively affects city businesses and the tourism industry,” says Peter Udzenija, director of corporate relations for Concord Pacific.

Speaking of impacting the community in a positive way, there’s the Concord Pacific Seawall Challenge, which is now in its fourth year. It’s set-up similar to hit reality TV show The Amazing Race. The Seawall Challenge begins at the Concord Pacific presentation centre near Science World and ends at First Beach. It takes place this year on July 23, the first Saturday of the Celebration of Light.

Family and friends can form a team of four to compete in the obstacle courses. Up for grabs is $1500 for the winning team, and the opportunity to choose a school that will receive $5,000 to go towards its after-school programs.

Participants can choose to enter one of two categories. The first category is the Family Challenge, and the team of four must consist of two children under 12-years-old, plus two older participants. The advantage? The obstacle course is more kid friendly.

The slightly harder course is the Friends’ Challenge, which has more intense obstacles and no age requirements. The fee for each team in both categories is $40.

“As part of the Celebration of Light, the Concord Seawall Challenge is the ideal way to help contribute and build awareness around the after school ‘need period’, which is one of our focuses. It’s the period of time between 3:00 p.m. and 5:00 p.m. where parents are still at work and kids need constructive things to do,” says Udzenija. “That’s why teams compete for their schools and Concord donates on behalf of the two winning teams to after-school programs of their choice.”

The fireworks will go on this year, as they do every year, rain or shine. Regardless of what the weather has in store for us this year, one thing that is certain is nothing beats the incredible experience of watching world-class fireworks over English Bay. “It’s a spectacular location,” says Frost. “It’s one of the most beautiful landscapes in the world.”