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Fireworks in VancouverGo to Slide Show




Vancouver has many fireworks displays every year - New years, Canada Day (They have been canceled for the last few years, but are back this year), Celebration of Light (nee Symphony of Fire) and many special events.  The Canada Day fireworks (July 1st) have a website and this years Celebration of Light days are  July 25 - Spain, July 28 - Canada, August 1 - China, August 4 - Grand Finale.

The map below shows some of the locations where fireworks are launched and some of the good places to watch fireworks from.

Symphony Of Fire in English Bay, from First Beach


The best places see fireworks is First Beach in English Bay.  The fireworks are the sharpest, the smoke is least likely to be a problem and the music is the clearest.  My first summer with a camera I attended a seminar on how to photograph fireworks put on by the The Symphony of Fire organizers.  I bought a clamp and shot sitting on the grass with the camera mounted up on a post.  Three hundred thousand people joined me watching the show.  Out of 3 rolls of film, these are some of my favorites:

First BeachFirst BeachFirst Beach
 

First BeachFirst BeachFirst Beach

First BeachFirst BeachFirst Beach

There is only one real downside to first beach - the three hundred thousand other people who come to join you.  If you want to get a good spot, come 4 hours early and enjoy some time at the beach.  About an hour before the fireworks begin the paths around the beach starts to seize up - every seatable square foot of beach front is taken.  If you want entertainment, go when the tide is rising.

First Beach 2004 Crowd

First Beach 2004 Crowd Watching

But you won't beat the view.

First Beach 2004 Multi packFirst Beach 2004 SunsetFirst Beach 2004 Gold And Purple

Symphony Of Fire in English Bay, from Vanier Park

Maritime MuseumMaritime Museum

Maritime MuseumMaritime MuseumMaritime Museum

Maritime MuseumMaritime MuseumMaritime Museum

I've taken photos of fireworks with film (my old APS camera), slides (my then new F100) and digital - considering the cost of the equipment involved, there isn't a quantum leap in quality.   The most important part seems to be having a good way to keep your camera steady. (Again from Vanier Park)

F100 - From Vanier ParkF100 - From Vanier ParkF100 - From Vanier ParkF100 - From Vanier Park

Celebration of Light from the Burrard Street Bridge

To really see the fireworks, you need a clear sight to the barge.  I've always wanted to see the fireworks from the Burrard Street Bridge, and I was very happy with the results.

Orange BurstsMultiple Levels of FireworksShaped FireworksBlues and Purples

You can go to the bridge less than half an hour before the fireworks start and still get a great view.  This is the best place to go to get a last minute view of the fireworks.

Celebration of Light from the Granville Street Bridge

I was curious what the view from the Granville Street Bridge would be like.  Burrard is so easy to see them from, I was hoping having a bit of Vancouver in the frame would give the fireworks a sense of place.

Burrard Street Bridge From The Granville Street BridgeBurrard Street Bridge From The Granville Street BridgeBurrard Street Bridge From The Granville Street Bridge

No suck luck.  The best images are at 200mm, and balancing the sodium lights of the bridge to the fireworks didn't work as well as I was hoping.  Given the choice, I think I would take the additional 15 minutes of walking to see the fireworks from the Burrard Street Bridge.  Watching people getting tickets from the police for pulling there cars over on the bridge was amusing, but a little sad.

Celebration of Light from Fairview Slopes

Some days you don't feel like braving the crowds to get to a great viewing site.  If you have a friend in the right neighborhood, nothing beats watching the fireworks from a private deck.

This year I saw two very different sets of fireworks from Fairview slopes - Italy and Canada.  Italy had a tough break - almost no wind meant their fireworks went into an ever increasing cloud of smoke.  By the end, it looked like a nebula with explosions inside - only the largest bursts would get outside the cloud.

Multi Coloured SmokeySmokey FireworksSmokey Fireworks

The following Saturday, Canada had it's turn.  The show was amazing   From farther away you tend to concentrate on the larger bursts.  Canada had an amazing variety of colours and fireworks that would rise, fall and rise again, somewhat reminiscent of the fireworks in Lord of the Rings.  We were blown away.

Three Bursts Behind BridgeBig Burst With Enhanced BridgeMulti Coloured and RedPurple and Gold

This is long lens range - I used my 80-200 at full length to fill the frame.  After an amazing show, we returned to our evenings fun.

Celebration of Light from Coal Harbour

A lots of people (with the right location) have house parties that include a viewing of the fireworks.  Another friend has a condo in Coal Harbour and her building top deck (29 stories up) happens to have view through the other buildings to the fireworks.  Not much of the barge is in view but you do get to see the fireworks more at eye level.
Coal Harbour 2004 Blue With BuildingsCoal Harbour 2004 Gold StreamsCoal Harbour 2004 Pink ShapesCoal Harbour 2004 Sharp Spikies

The best part of not being right at first beach (or the immediate area) is that you can don't have a challenging time getting to wherever you are going when the fireworks are done.

Symphony Of Fire in English Bay, from Burnaby Mountain


These shots are from Burnaby Mountain (SFU), looking toward downtown.  Seeing the fireworks right over the city is cool, but the sound delay between the explosion and you hearing it is several seconds.  Someone usually has their radio playing.  If you have summer classes, it's worth the effort to walk to the park.

From Burnaby MountainFrom Burnaby Mountain

Fireworks over Canada Place from Fairview Slopes

Fireworks Over Vancouver From Fairview SlopesFireworks Over Vancouver From Fairview Slopes


Plaza of Nations (Science World) from the Cambie Street Bridge

Fireworks Over False Creek (Science World)Fireworks Over False Creek (Science World)Fireworks Over False Creek (Science World)


Canada Day (Canada Place) from the North Shore

Green and Purple Fireworks over VancouverBlue Burst over VancouverCombined Fireworks over Vancouver

The fireworks are a long way away (these are cropped out of images shot with a 80-200mm lens) so bring a big lens.  The crowd in the park were quite lively and it was a nice quick way to see the show.  Depending on the location of the freighters, you may not see the firework barge, and the city behind isn't particularly recognizable.

Celebration of Light Burrard Street Bridge North Shore Cambie Street Fairview Slopes Cambie Street Fairview Slopes Vanier Park First Beach


F100 - From Vanier Park
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Smokey Fireworks
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First Beach
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First Beach 2004 Crowd Watching
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Maritime Museum
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Big Burst With Enhanced Bridge
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Blue Burst over Vancouver
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F100 - From Vanier Park
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Three Bursts Behind Bridge
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First Beach
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Maritime Museum
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First Beach
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Maritime Museum
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First Beach
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Fireworks Over False Creek (Science World)
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Multi Coloured and Red
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First Beach
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First Beach 2004 Sunset
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Green and Purple Fireworks over Vancouver
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Maritime Museum
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Coal Harbour 2004 Blue With Buildings
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Coal Harbour 2004 Sharp Spikies
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F100 - From Vanier Park
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First Beach 2004 Gold And Purple
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First Beach
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Maritime Museum
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Maritime Museum
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Fireworks Over Vancouver From Fairview Slopes
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Burrard Street Bridge From The Granville Street Bridge
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Orange Bursts
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Blues and Purples
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Fireworks Over False Creek (Science World)
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First Beach
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Shaped Fireworks
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Fireworks Over Vancouver From Fairview Slopes
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F100 - From Vanier Park
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Maritime Museum
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Combined Fireworks over Vancouver
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Burrard Street Bridge From The Granville Street Bridge
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Purple and Gold
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First Beach 2004 Crowd
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From Burnaby Mountain
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Coal Harbour 2004 Pink Shapes
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Smokey Fireworks
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First Beach
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Maritime Museum
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Coal Harbour 2004 Gold Streams
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First Beach 2004 Multi pack
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Fireworks Over False Creek (Science World)
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From Burnaby Mountain
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First Beach
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Multi Coloured Smokey
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Multiple Levels of Fireworks
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Burrard Street Bridge From The Granville Street Bridge
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Tags: fireworks(63), city(7), Vancouver(7), crowd(1)
From: John Harvey Photo > John Harvey Photo - Fireworks in Vancouver
From: John Harvey Photo > Photos of Vancouver > John Harvey Photo - Fireworks in Vancouver

Very helpful info. Thanks a lot, John

Tuesday, July 22nd, 2008 at 19:30:30

exciting and beautiful..thank you ..will be there in 2009
jolie bain pillsbury
Sunday, September 21st, 2008 at 05:39:19

Great summary with fantastic photos. I'm looking for a good place to have a special evening during the fireworks this year. This webpage has come in quite handy. Have you ever taken the boat to see the fireworks?

Thursday, June 18th, 2009 at 21:49:11

Very informative. Thanks. This year I watched South Africa from Jerico Beach and it was not a very good spot with the naked eye though the lightning was spectacular. The show had some gaps as well which may or may not have been intentional. Next time I go, I will watch from the Burrard Bridge. thanks cn
Colin
Sunday, July 26th, 2009 at 19:43:43

I cannot tell from this page...can you see the fireworks from Second Beach?
Alana Coombs
Friday, July 31st, 2009 at 14:42:51

I don't know, but I suspect the view from second beach isn't great. There is a bit of land sticking out that would obscure your view of the barge and you would be looking through all the boats. But I've never tried.
John Harvey
Saturday, October 17th, 2009 at 23:55:38

This is really cool! I really should go there sometime. Were you standing on something to get such good shots over the heads of the people in the crowd? I was at a thing like this once, and I couldn't get a good shot because of all the people in the way.
Colleen
Monday, November 16th, 2009 at 10:17:30

Re: second beach I don't think you can see them from there, but my favorite place is just past the Second Beach pool on the path. The path curves out away from the beach and there is a whole string of benches with a straight-on view of the barges (albeit from the West side) and not much crowding. A very relaxed way to see them!
Steve
Wednesday, July 21st, 2010 at 12:27:30

Great photos! Question for you -- I'm wondering if I'd be able to see the fireworks (Celebration of Lights one) from the Lonsdale area... any idea? I know it's visible from Dundrave Pier area but hoping if I was in the Lonsdale area I'd be able to see the fireworks as well.
elletee
Monday, January 10th, 2011 at 13:23:27

Awesome site, and beautiful pictures, thank you so much for posting this! We are planning on where to view the Celebration of Light, our first time seeing it. It was very helpful to have photos taken from all the different vantage points and a review of each location. We'll probably try for First Beach, but, barring that, Burrard Bridge sounds like a close second.
Lisa
Friday, July 29th, 2011 at 19:28:14

You're just missing the review for Jericho beach. How early would we have to get there to be able to find a good spot?
gavsiu
Saturday, July 30th, 2011 at 12:12:09

Just found your site. Awesome pictures. Usually go to English Bay with the crowds of people. Don't mind though. But your pictures from the different locations really do give a different prospective of the fireworks. Like the ones from Burrard Bridge. Thanks for sharing.
Barb
Friday, September 16th, 2011 at 12:20:14

Absolutely inspiring. I just started taking Fundamentals of Photography Using a DSLR. Your website was included as a resource in the handout of our final class of the term. Now I have more to aspire to.

jewel

jewel
Tuesday, October 18th, 2011 at 21:55:13

awesome photos and very detailed direction.
Jack
Thursday, April 26th, 2012 at 13:26:59

I enjoyed reading your fireworks in Vancouver! Inspiring to see your journey & sharing on the web as well as a guided map that is a wonderful tool for exploring the best views. I hope you can make a story for the newspaper too & people can see the best camera shots in the paper.

Your story is wonderful to share your talent! I hope to see more! Elizabeth

Elizabeth
Sunday, July 28th, 2013 at 10:43:40

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