The Honda Celebration of Light has become one of Vancouver’s most anticipated events
Vancouver’s night sky will once again be illuminated this summer as the 2015 Honda Celebration of Light twinkles down on the city, attracting thousands of revellers to the downtown core. But the 2015 spectacle is set to shine brighter than ever, as British Columbia’s largest public event proudly celebrates its Silver anniversary.
With each of the three participating countries carefully chosen to honour its 25th year, the festival kicks off with a bang on July 25 when team China aims to prove its mettle, followed by Brazil on July 29 and Canada—the 2013 champion—on August 1. Numerous countdown celebrations and pop-up fireworks displays will take place throughout the Lower Mainland in the weeks leading up to the big event.
Locals have come to know and love the popular summertime festival, and for many, their connection with it is a very personal one. “We all have a story, or memory or experience of being at the fireworks. It belongs to all of us,” says Heather Owen, vice chair of the Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society.
THE FIREWORKS EFFECT
The Honda Celebration of Light attracts a whopping 400,000 spectators each night.
The festival brings in an estimated $40 million in incremental tourism and hospitality spending each year.
The past 25 years of the festival have seen a total of 85 separate fireworks 17 performances, participating countries, over 17,000 volunteers and 400 tonnes of fireworks.
Repeat winners include Spain with 6 wins, Canada with 4 wins and China with 3 wins.
But the Celebration of Light extends far beyond just the city itself, attracting some of the best and brightest pyrotechnicians and designers from across the globe. In fact, the international event is the longest-running offshore fireworks competition in the world. “We often think of it as just a local thing, but it really is an internationally renowned event that helps to showcase Vancouver to the world,” says Owen.
Over the years the event has become more than just three nights of fireworks, expanding into a week-long cultural festival with live music on the LG 104.3 SHOREFEST stages, entertainment, food vendors and family-friendly activities at Sunset Beach and accessible viewing areas and V.I.P. lounges at English Bay. “What we’re telling people is ‘Come for the festival, and then stay for the fireworks,”’ says Heather Sharpe, Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society producer. “There truly is something for everyone.”
The not-for-profit, volunteer-run Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society orchestrates the massive, free event each year, bringing together public sector partners, sponsors, local businesses and community members alike. “One hundred per cent of our funding is through the support of sponsors and donors. They’re all incredibly generous, and without exception, they’re doing it because they want this great thing to continue,” says Owen.
For the Vancouver-based offices of law firm McMillan LLP, a long-time sponsor and supporter of the festival (with two of its partners sitting on the society’s Board of Directors), the partnership is a natural fit. “McMillan has very strong roots in the community, so we feel it’s very important to help celebrate this event with the people of Vancouver,” says Ryan Black, partner at McMillan LLP. “Nothing quite compares to a beautiful summer night spent at English Bay watching the fireworks, trying out the food vendors and taking part in the festival—it’s such a quintessential Vancouver experience.”
Photo Courtesy of Honda Celebration of Light