One of my favourite things about this time of year is the yearly traditions that we’ve begun to establish in our family. One of those traditions is going to the Bright Nights in Stanley Park event. When you combine trains and Christmas lights, it’s a pretty unbeatable duo, especially in the minds of my two young sons who are pretty big on both of these things.

Put on by the Vancouver Park Board and the British Columbia Professional Fire Fighters’ Burn Fund, this is an essential Christmas event for families in the greater-Vancouver area. Not only do you have a good time by going, you also help support a great cause, the Burn Fund, which helps burn survivors and their families.

This year the event was themed around the Polar Express movie, which is one of my kids favourite holiday films. The event did not disappoint in this regard, they even had a man playing the role of the Conductor who caused my son Jonathan to do a double-take.

This was the first year that both of my boys were old enough to really appreciate the experience. There’s real magic happening as you try and see the event through their eyes. Going on a weekday and arriving there before 4pm also made a big difference, with much less crowds and thus minimal line-ups. It also didn’t hurt that the weather was fantastic.

In previous years I was dead set on making sure it was dark when we went on the train. However, you then end up in very long lines and of course it gets much colder once the sun sets. When you have young kids, lets just say it’s really not the wisest move.

So this year I compromised and we bought tickets for a 4:30 train ride. The result? A 10 minute wait to get on the train, two happy boys, a happy mom, and even I was happy since it ended up getting dark during our train ride. It was an overwhelming success.

As usual the light displays did not disappoint. With over two million lights it certainly would be hard to do so. There were a lot of the memorable displays that we look forward to every year, plus some new ones that the kids loved.

All in all, it’s a truly magical experience. It wouldn’t be Christmas in our family without it.