Jewel Box of Lights Illuminates the Bloedel Conservatory!

Mark your calendars! The Bloedel Conservatory will again splash colour across Vancouver’s grey winter with holiday lights and the bright plumage of its exotic birds. The lush indoor landscape is exotic at any time of year, but the annual Jewel Box of Lights provides a stroll through the tropics with a holiday twist. Seasonal music, poinsettias and bright blooming Christmas cactus provide the context for a non-traditional holiday experience. Baby, if it’s cold outside, come to the Bloedel Conservatory!

To kick off the event in celebration of Bloedel’s 43rd Anniversary, the Friend’s of Bloedel are sponsoring a very special evening of entertainment beginning at 5:30pm on December 6th. Musical quartets will be singing songs of the season, a trio of tubas, a wonderful Santa dispensing individually wrapped European chocolates and very delicious Parrot sugar cookies with mulled apple cider – are all free with admission (while supplies last). Of course the lights will be magical! The gardeners have once again pulled out all the stops placing millions of twinkling lights and cascading waterfalls of sparkling lasers. A fun night of family entertainment for a great value!

The Friends of Bloedel will also be raising money to help the birds and boost new education programs at the Conservatory. Gorgeous poinsettias and orchids will be for sale along with a great raffle prize draw. Be sure to come out to support your favorite feathered friend!

It’s an event not to be missed!

DATE: Thursday, December 6, 2012 – January 1, 2013 (Closed December 25)

TIME: Doors open at 4:30pm – 9:00pm

Special Opening Night Entertainment: December 3 beginning at 5:30

LOCATION: Bloedel Conservatory: off West 33rd Avenue between Cambie and Main Streets at the top of Queen Elizabeth Park, Vancouver, BC

COST: Adult $7; Senior/Youth (13-18) $5 ; Child (3-12) $3.50; Family (2 adults & children 3-18) $16.50. Group rates and commercial bus rates available.

Free parking will be available throughout Queen Elizabeth Park from 4:00pm for the duration of the event!

“Bloedel is a Jewel Box as are the stars, and at Queen Elizabeth Park you can almost touch the heavens on a clear night!”

See you there!

Cool New Things Happening at the Bloedel Conservatory!

QR Code Smart Phone Tour

Spearheaded by Friends of Bloedel President, Vicky Earle, this new Smart Phone Self-Guided Tour is a QR code based pilot project that was 2 years in the making. “We wanted a platform to share more detail about the many fascinating stories held within this wonderful tropical oasis. There is so much to discover here! We hope people will enjoy exploring the site”. Enter the Conservatory and scan the QR code located in the gift shop with any smart phone (you may need to download a free reader), then navigate by using the subject tabs to discover detailed information, pictures, videos, and audio files for each of the stations provided. Future plans are to translate the site into multiple languages to reach a wider, more diverse audience. Stop in and try it out! We would love to hear your feedback!

New Logo and Front Entrance Graphic

The Bloedel Conservatory has a new logo! Take a stroll along the front plaza on the top of QE park and you will certainly notice the new dazzling graphic and elegant logo that now graces the entrance of the Bloedel Conservatory. Garden Director Harry Jongerden enlisted the expertise of creative strategist Karen Holyk to design the logo. Ms. Holyk and colleague Daniela Pilossof, environmental designer, were then commissioned to capture the essence held within the dome and transform it into a new graphic display for the front window. Photographs for the project were donated by Vicky Earle and Irmgard Carter. Be sure to go inside for a visit and see if you can find everything in the graphic!

Preparations for the Jewel Box of Lights are Underway!

In celebration of the Bloedel Conservatory’s 43rd Anniversary, this year’s Jewel Box of Lights will officially open December 6th at 4:30. Preparations are in full swing with gardeners and arborists pulling out all the stops to make this Jewel Box a delight! Mark your calendars as this is event should not to be missed! Stay tuned for more details coming soon!

Warning: Smiling is Contagious at the Bloedel Conservatory!

7  Great Reasons to Visit the Jewel Box of Lights!

Welcome to the Jewel Box! Photo copyright Silvester Law

1. It’s like a mini vacation without the airfare!

Walk in and be instantly swept away by the warmth of the tropics! The soothing sound of water and the melodic songs of the free flying birds will instantly calm your frazzled holiday nerves. Find a bench, take a deep breath and relax! Soak up the ambiance of this magical place and feel your tense muscles unwind.

2. The Garden is Masterfully Dressed for the Holidays!

Bloedel’s gardeners have once again pulled out all the stops! Twinkling lights, magical lasers and thousands of artfully planted festive poinsettas set the stage for the season. And just like a real rainforest, be sure to look high into the trees to see the papaya, bananas, India figs and more. Open late through the holidays, you have time to wander through at a leisurely pace. See if you can find the rhinestones on the tips of the poinsettias! The lights are in full brilliance after 4:00pm.

The Jewel Box of Lights show is on until January 2, 2012
Closed Christmas Day)
Sunday to Thursday, 10:00 am – 8:00 pm

Friday and Saturday, 10:00 am – 9:00 pm

3. You Can Stop and Smell the Flowers

The hibiscus, orchids, golden chalace flowers, amazon lilies and of course the gorgeous poinsettias are all in full bloom right now. Plus, the beautiful Christmas cacti will all blossom right in time for the Holiday weekend.

4. The Wishing Tree

Make a wish and help Santa fill the stockings of all the parrots and birds under the Dome! Volunteers will be selling ornaments by donation to be hung on the Wishing tree. The best part? You get to take an ornament home to hang on your own tree to remember the birds at Bloedel! All money raised goes directly for toys and treats for the birds and helps cover their emergency health care costs. Helping the birds will make you feel good all over! Volunteers will be on hand to sell ornaments from:

Tuesday morning (December 13): 10 am – 12 am

Wednesday evening (December 14): 5 pm – 7 pm

Friday morning (December 16): 10 am – 12 am

Saturday afternoon (December 17): 12 am – 3:30 pm

5. Speaking of birds …

Chatty parrots and macaws are sure to make you smile! Say ‘hello’ to Art and watch him dance! Carmen and Maria, the Green Winged Macaws might give you a “High 5”, while Casey the Amazon parrot is sure to entertain and ask “What ‘cha doin’?” Nelson loves to play a “peek a boo” and be sure to give Rosie a whistle, she’s the master of all types of odd and amusing sounds. Even the wee small birds will make you giggle with their antics. Stop by the Feeding Station and watch them take a bath or share the holiday fruit.

6. Stress-free parking is available

Park in the Upper Parking Lot and see the festive fountains on the Plaza! All lit up for the very first time! Parking is also available along the hill up to the Conservatory (pay parking in effect). Alternatively, park for free along the lower ring road.

7. It’s the Best deal in Town!

Admission prices are:

Adults: $5.00; Seniors & Youth $3.48; Kids 6-12  $2.50; Preschoolers – Free.

“Bloedel is a Jewel Box as are the stars, and at Queen Elizabeth Park, you can almost touch the heavens on a clear night” ~ T. Clark

See you there!

Happy 42nd Anniversary Bloedel Conservatory!

Bloedel Consevatory in the Fall

The Bloedel Conservatory opened December 6th, 1969 and was the first domed floral conservatory in Canada! It is at the geographic centre of Vancouver at its highest point in Queen Elizabeth Park.

Bloedel Conservatory under construction.

We thought you might like to read about the history of this fantastic green jewel at the top of our city on this special Anniversary day!

In 1966, while Canada prepared for its Centennial celebrations, two men in Vancouver had a grand vision. Stuart Lefeaux, Superintendent of the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation, and Deputy Superintendent Bill Livingstone wanted to something that would enhance the image of Vancouver and give people something to be really excited about! Their vision was to build a Conservatory for exotic plants that would not only be educational, but would also be a beautiful place to visit. Where better to build such a structure than the geographic centre of the city and at its highest point of land? Queen Elizabeth Park was the obvious answer. But now how to pay for it? Stuart and Bill knew there must be a philanthropist in the city who would like their name attached to such a project.

Prentice and Virginia Bloedel. Photo courtesy of Virginia Wright Bloedel

They approached Prentice Bloedel, retired Vice Chairman of the Macmillan Bloedel Lumber Company. Prentice, a visionary in his own right, teacher at heart and a pioneer in the areas of recycling and the human/ environmental connection agreed! The Bloedel Foundation put forward $1.4 million dollars (worth $8.6 million in 2012 dollars) in conjunction with contributions by the City of Vancouver and the Provincial Government to build the Bloedel Conservatory, the fountains and the surrounding plaza. This was the largest civic gift given to Vancouver to date.

Construction of the aluminum framing of the Bloedel Conservatory.

Construction of the aluminum framing of the Bloedel Conservatory.

The elements for the triodetic dome frame were manufactured in Ottawa and shipped 3,000 miles across the country to Queen Elizabeth Park. Once it arrived, the aluminum framework was erected in just 10 days although the entire Conservatory structure took over 1 year to complete. The Grand Opening of the Conservatory took place on December 6, 1969 and hosted over 500,000 people in its first year of operation.

Bringing in the palms at the Bloedel Conservatory, 1969.

The Bloedel Conservatory is significant for its historical, symbolic, cultural, and social values, and particularly for its use of technologies and building methods which were quite advanced for its time. The Conservatory, the fountain and the surrounding plaza were all designed to work together and with specific goals to show man’s connection to nature. The curving lines of the fountain harmonize with the Conservatory dome, while the leaping fountains add vertical movement to mirror distant trees. The dome structure with its absence of interior supporting columns was chosen to provide an unobstructed view of the exotic gardens within. The Bloedel Conservatory won the prestigious Vincent Massey Award for Excellence in Urban Environment in 1971 and is listed on the Canadian Register of Historic Places.

Join us for the Jewel Box of Lights Opening Event, this Friday, December 9th between 6 and 9pm to help us celebrate this amazing tropical oasis!

“Bloedel is a Jewel Box as are the stars, and at Queen Elizabeth Park you can almost touch the heavens on a clear night!” ~ T. Clark

A great time is sure to be had by all!

The Jewel Box of Lights Returns!

Please join us on Friday, December 9th for the

Second Annual Jewel Box of Lights Opening Event!

The dome will once again come alive with a myriad of twinkling lights and magical lasers. Come in and enjoy the Special Opening Event from 6 – 9pm on December 9th, 2011.

Enjoy sweet holiday melodies sung by our Quartet of Carolers and make way for the Trio of Tubas! Their unique sounds are sure to delight young and old alike. Then be sure to stop and make a wish on our Wishing Tree! Special bird ornaments will be sold by donation to help fill the stockings of all the Parrots at Bloedel. And let’s not forget Old Saint Nick! He’ll be dropping by to hand out delicious European chocolates. A great time is sure to be had by all! Free eggnog and yummy parrot shaped cookies will be available while supplies last.

The Jewel Box will run from December 9, 2011 – January 2, 2012.

Friday – Saturday 10am – 9pm; Sunday – Thursday 10am – 8pm.

Regular admission applies

Special Promotion:

Purchase tickets at the Bright Nights Train at Stanley Park or the VanDusen Botanical Garden’s Festival of Lights and receive a promotional coupon for Jewel Box of Lights at Bloedel Conservatory. The coupon will allow you to enjoy one complimentary admission to Jewel Box of Lights when a second admission of equal or greater value is purchased.

See you there!

Free Admission to the Jewel Box of Lights!

Enjoy one free admission to the Jewel Box of Lights when a second admission of equal or greater value is purchased!


If you haven’t yet had the chance to see the lush magic of the Jewel Box of Lights, this is a great opportunity! Click Here for Coupon or visit the Vancouver Board of Parks and Recreation website:

See You there!

Santa Arrives at Bloedel!

What a great night! Santa stopped by Bloedel yesterday to surprise the birds by filling their individually embroidered stockings a little early this year!

The fantastic Gardeners at Bloedel bringing all the birds together to meet Santa

Bloedel’s radiant evening display, “Jewel Box of Lights”, and its “Wishing Tree for the Birds” has been popularly embraced by the attending public with an outpouring of donations to help Santa fill the stockings for all resident birds who call the Conservatory home.

John Coupar, President of Friends of the Bloedel, hanging bird ornaments on the Wishing Tree

Santa arrives and greets children that have been waiting eagerly to meet him.

Santa meeting eagerly waiting children

Santa wasted no time getting busy to fill the stocking of all the birds! He had toys and treats and surprises for our feathered flock that should keep them busy well into the New Year!

Santa getting busy filling the stockings for the birds

Santa gets help from his elf under the careful watch of Casey the Amazon parrot and a young visitor

The Friends of Bloedel have sponsored the Jewel Box of Lights display in response to overwhelming public support to save the Conservatory and reinvigorate it with new events and educational programs. A Special Thank You to all the incredible donors, members, friends, families and supporters who have given so much to help us in our journey over the past year.

Aaron Jasper, Chair of the Vancouver Park Board, meeting Santa and showing support for Bloedel and the Jewel Box of Lights

Sarah Blythe, Park Board Commissioner, with Bloedel Head Gardener Anyes Romses meeting the birds and supporting the Jewel Box Event

Also, a big thank you goes out to the great staff at the Bloedel Conservatory, Southlands Nursery, Creative Embroidery, B & B Printing, Xoxolat Chocolate and of course Santa Claus and his Elf for their wonderful support to help make the Jewel Box of Lights a success this year!

The Jewel Box of Lights Event runs until January 2nd, 2011

Sunday – Thursday: 10 am – 8 pm

Friday – Saturday: 10 am – 9 pm

Happy Holidays!