Friday, July 25, 2014

Vancouver 2014 Honda Celebration of Light Guide

This weekend marks the start of the annual fireworks festival in Vancouver. The pertinent dates are:

  • July 26: USA
  • July 30: France
  • August 2: France

Some resources to help you our if you are in town and want to try your hand at fireworks photography:

Fireworks nights are not just about the pyrotechnics, but given the logistics of getting to one of the viewing venues, its almost always about soaking in the ambience of being out on the town in the afternoon and evening before.

Viewing Locations

                                           via Honda Celebration of Light

The two primary locations are from English Bay and Vanier Park. There are various other places in the city from which the fireworks are visible, but almost all of them are diminished by distance. Note the areas coloured in red on the map above; those denote road closures. Unless you are local traffic, access to those areas will be restricted in the evening hours. If you are spending the whole day out on the town, it's worth it to park early within the exclusion zone, but be warned that leaving after the fireworks will be difficult, as the streets and lanes will be clogged with pedestrian traffic heading home.

Vanier is the more family friendly viewing area, but because it is a somewhat residential neighbourhood, parking and access can be problematic. The viewing experience is not as dramatic because you are further away from the display, but the overall atmosphere is more chill. Bring along a FM radio; the music will be simulcast on SHORE104.3FM. If you are hungry, there are quite a few eateries at the foot of Yew Street and along Cornwall Street just outside of the beach/park area.

If you have long lenses, Granville Island provides one of the most interesting vantage points, as you have the silhouette of the Burrard Bridge in the foreground.

                                                                                            via Google

However, the fireworks, are best seen from English Bay. The best vantage point is on the beach, but that also entails staking out a spot. If you would rather fight the crowds on solid ground rather than on the sand, then nearly anywhere on Beach Avenue gives a good vantage of the display. That is not the same from a photographic standpoint, though, as it can be difficult to setup your gear  without being crowded out. If you are taking camera gear, go early, go with a friend and watch your gear closely. The problem is not so much theft (still possible, but fairly infrequent) but people scrambling for the last available spot and knocking tripods over. If you are shooting from English way, bring your widest lens possible.

Access to English Bay takes some doing, as all of the skytrain stations are at least a 40min walk from the breach. The best way to spend the night is to go during the day and to soak up the sights and of the downtown core. Dress in layers; summertime in Vancouver is shorts and t-shirt weather, but you might need a top if it gets chilly, especially since the event ends at 10:30pm.

The fireworks start at 10pm on each respective night.

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