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Celebration of Light kicks off in Vancouver today

Last Updated Jul 31, 2017 at 9:06 am PST

(Courtesy Flickr: gotovan)

The three teams competing this year are Japan, the UK, and Canada

Each show will be about 2-3 minutes longer in celebration of Canada's 150th

Be sure to know about road closures and extra delays on transit due to crowds

VANCOUVER (NEWS 1130) – Tonight marks the start of a summer tradition in Vancouver, the Celebration of Light kicks off at English bay!

Organizers expect about a crowd of 400,000 people to take in the annual event.

“These are going to be high-end shows and it’s just a year we’re really proud of,” says Kelly Guille, the lead pyrotechnic expert for the Celebration of Light.

He’ll be working with all three teams –Japan, the United Kingdom, and Canada.

Guille points out they’ve all won awards.

“Japan has won here a couple of years ago. JubileeĀ from England has won trophies all around the world and same with Royal from Quebec.”

Guille and his crew members have been helping Team Japan prepare since Thursday, and says preparations will continue up until show time.

“There’s kind of a system that we go through, first we’ll set up the racks and mortars, then we’ll start on shelves,” Guille explains.

He adds show day is always a little more high stress, and his team needs to be ready to make any last-minute adjustments, as teams from other countries sometimes use different technology.

Japan is up first with tonight’s show. The UK will light up the sky on Wednesday, and Canada is the finale, a week from today.

If you’re paying close attention, you also may notice a slight change this year. They’re a little longer –by about two or three minutes– in celebration of Canada’s 150th birthday.

Each team will be including a classically Canadian song in their display, explains Paul Tilbury with the Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society.

Japan will include Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah in their show, the UK will incorporate Ahead by a Century by the Tragically Hip, while Canada will interpret Bryan Adams’ Summer of 69.

The fireworks start at 10 tonight and will last about 25-30 minutes.

Road Closures

TransLink has some warnings ahead of the Celebration of Light.

Anne Drennan with the transportation authority says you should plan on leaving early if you’re taking a bus or SkyTrain.

“The buses and the sea bus will be very busy and often filled to capacity during the afternoons and the evenings,” she says. “We’ll have officers on duty in high visibility roles throughout the system.”

She’s also asking for people to report any problems or anything out of the ordinary on the system.

You may also want to rethink your plan to drive downtown. Road closures will be in effect, so make sure you know before you go!
Celebration of Light

As always, you can tune in to NEWS 1130 for the latest traffic updates every ten minutes on the ones.

Fireworks Etiquette

One piece of advice, be considerate. That not only goes for before and during the show, but when leaving the fireworks too.

“Every time I’ve gone downtown, I’ve definitely been stuck in traffic afterwards,” says Sunita Padda, etiquette expert and TableSmarts founder.

If possible, she adds, delay your trip home to avoid the rush.

“Take that opportunity to go to a restaurant or spend some time downtown. That way you can let those who are urgently needing to leave to leave without being stuck in their traffic.”

If you’re taking the kids, Padda recommends packing snacks and activities, and maybe sticking to Kits Beach or Dundarave, to avoid those downtown crowds.

Make sure to put your phone down and enjoy the show, and consider making plans to stay downtown –at a nearby bar or restaurant– if you don’t want to get caught in the rush.

Remember, drinking alcohol in public is also against the law, so be sure to leave the booze at home.

Breaking that law could cost you $230.