It’s pretty hard to top the success of last year, when the inaugural Glow Christmas event saw in excess of 100,000 guests visit during the 37-day period, and helped raise more than $25,000 for charities.
But faced with the challenge of not only matching, but surpassing last year’s successes, members of the Darvonda Nursery staff – biological and other – began planning back at the end of January for an even bigger and better Glow Christmas for 2018.
Well come tonight (Thursday, Nov. 22), the public will have a chance to judge whether all that planning, months of manufacturing, and weeks of set up and installation for the indoor light show and Christmas market achieved its goal.
Breanne Kanis hopes it does, pretty psyched about all the work that has once again gone into transforming 100,000 square feet of greenhouse space (up from 80,000 square feet used last year) into a giant Christmas-themed garden playground for children of all ages.
There’s more space, more features, more lights, more days, more gardens, more twinkling and animation, more vendors, and more of pretty much everything imaginable, Kanis said, touring the Glow buildings a week ahead of opening. She hopes it will translate to more visitors.
The popularity of this now annual event can be attributed to the unique setting, the covered and heated space allowing families to be immersed in the Christmas spirit without having to brave the unpredictable weather that can be a common deterrent for other holiday festivals, Kanis said.
The concept for this event came to her older brother and Darvonda CEO Lawrence Jansen and her brother-in-law and company production manager Daryl Driegen.
As young fathers, they were casting around for holiday activities they could enjoy with their own young families. Striving to find something their whole families would enjoy, the team developed the concept for this huge interactive indoor playground and gardens.
Now, ultimately, this is a greenhouse operation, and Darvonda would be remiss if they didn’t showcase some of their own products – and that they will be doing in spades with literally thousands of different species and colours of poinsetta dispersed through the displays – hence the parent organization’s name of Glow Gardens.
But one of the biggest appeals will still be the lights and the mix of entertainment.
There’s not only a marketplace, bars, and entertainment for adults. But moreover, there’s lots to entertain the kids. They will enjoy jumping on the hopscotch pads, frolicking in the magic castle playground, horsing around on the LED swings (which were unveiled in the recent Harvest Glow), getting lost inside the popular sea of hanging icicle, swinging a golf club on the putting greens, and visiting jolly Old St. Nick.
The experiences are endless, and to encourage interaction, guests will receive Glow passports to get stamped as they visit each country, Kanis explained.
How does this year’s plan all come together?
After attending a trade show in Germany immediately after last year’s Glow, the Darvonda team realized it would be wiser and much more economical sound to start building customized, made-to-order pieces for themselves rather than buying components off the rack.
That’s when Kanis, a full-time graphic artist in Vancouver, was brought in full-time to oversee the creative end of the operation.
“We realized we could do anything. If we could imagine it, we could likely create it,” she said. And so it was decreed: It became her job to create a new and innovative Christmas theme for this year’s show.
Admittedly that took a bit of thinking, she said. But ultimately, the idea hit to have guests follow Santa around the globe while he’s making all his deliveries.
“It’s like you’re following Santa around the world on his sleigh,” Kanis said, noting people will touch down in the different countries, exploring some of their wonders and historical landmarks while on their adventure.
Quickly the concept for a Glow Around the World theme took hold, and Kanis went to work planning out the design and creation of several large-scale lighted features to represent six countries on Santa’s route: China, India, Holland, Mexico, France, and England.
In constant communication with manufacturers in China, she commissioned illuminated sculptures, including a huge Taj Mahal, a floor-to-ceiling pinata, a giant Chinese dragon, and replicas of the Eiffel Tower and Big Ben clock tower – among others.
All said and done, there are apparently more than a million lights in this year’s show, making it not only bigger but brighter than the inaugural event, Kanis said.
But listening to what visitors told them last year, they’ve also added more animation and twinkling lights throughout, as well.
“There’s truly an Instagram-worthy moment at every turn,” said Dreigen.
Glow Christmas is hours of fun for the whole family.
Where it goes from here
The Glow concept was more successful than any of the family anticipated.
Since last year, the team has expanded the Glow concept to include the Harvest Glow event that was held throughout the month of October in Langley.
They’re also working with greenhouse partners in Edmonton, Alta. and Barrie, Ont. to introduce new Glow Christmas shows in those communities this season.
And, Kanis hinted that they could soon be taking the concept into the U.S. – and, in fact, internationally.
“What has me worried now, is how will we outdo ourselves next year.”
Kanis said the theme of next year’s show is not yet confirmed. They have been talking about different transportation methods Santa might use, if his reindeer aren’t available. But time will tell.
In the meantime, Christmas Glow 2018 starts tonight and runs every day (except Sunday) through until the beginning of January. The show doesn’t wrap up until Jan. 19, but it will only be open weekends during the final two weeks. Information and tickets online purchasing can be found at www.glowgardens.com.