The Enchant Christmas Light Maze is a great idea. It's bright, beautiful, massive and full of cool stuff to buy. There are food trucks, local art and a few bars serving warming, winter, alcoholic beverages. It is the perfect venue to spend a winter evening wandering about with your friends. And if the alcohol being served isn't your speed, a well-placed brownie might really liven up the experience. This winter wonderland has everything going for it, except for one rather large problem — it is outside.
If you are in a place like Quebec or Holland, where the winter season brings copious amounts of beautiful, cottony snow, this wouldn't be much of an issue — but Vancouver is no such utopia. Here, thanks to various factors which someone who isn't an arts student could probably explain better than I, we have something called rain, which transforms a maze whose walkways are paved largely in mulch from a quaint experience into a sludgy, swampy, slippery and above all, supremely sad experience. Effectively, minus the rain — a core attribute of Vancouver living since forever — this is a wonderful, wholesome experience for people of all ages. Factoring in the rain though, your time would be better spent heating up some wine and drinking it while knee-deep in a puddle.
The Ubyssey was invited to the media premiere — an event on November 24 which ran from 5 to 10 p.m. Foolishly thinking that we had time to kill, a bunch of us decided that a trip to Tap and Barrel beforehand might be a good way to pass an hour before heading over. After drinking a beer called “The Back Hand of God,” which looked like dirty engine oil and tasted like a hardcore, heavy-metal version of Guinness, we decided to hit the road and see what this magical light maze had to offer.
It was a five minute walk from the restaurant in Olympic Village to the normally empty lot where the maze is set up. It should have been a good indication of what we were in for when we became entirely drenched after walking only a block or two. Nothing says, “Hey, lets go and run around a maze,” like icy November rain and wind that makes your bone marrow ache with cold.
Soon, through the hazy night, a mighty, light-spangled tree emerged from the darkness like a lighthouse guiding a ship home from a perilous journey, and we knew that we must soon be there. What we found when we arrived was an almost empty parking lot and a few drenched volunteers milling around the entrance looking very sorry for themselves. They let us in after only glancing at our passes, then gave us a handful of drink tickets along with a warning that they were probably going to close early.
There are two main tents. The first is for food and drinks, the second for vendors as well as more food and drinks. There are a lot of cool items for sale and some awesome looking food trucks, but most were in varying states of shutting down when we got there. At their tables, vendors were sulkily swiping through their phones or talking glumly to one another. The guy at the Cartem's Donuts table told us that it had been pretty busy earlier, but had died down quickly due to the rain.
In order to travel anywhere, we had to inevitably leave the comfort of the tents and venture out into the exposed parts between shelters. These were dark wastelands of gravel which had been so poorly laid out that to get anywhere, we were required to navigate a labyrinth of deep puddles and winding rivers — not unlike the soupy mess we were about to enter. I had to hop the equivalent of a moat to reach the porta-potties, which had already taken on a somewhat pungent odour, possibly due to the pools of water churning around their bases.
Once we finally got into the maze itself, we were told we had about five minutes to wander around since they wanted to close early. Promptly after stepping in, we hit a marshy area which soaked all of our socks and made it abundantly clear that to go much further would not be remotely fun.
The maze was undoubtedly beautiful. There is this lovely arched corridor that we ended up in where the lights gave everything a warm yellow glow that would make your Instagram account come to orgasm.
We were soon asked to leave and retreated to the bar to get some mulled wine and donuts for the road. It concluded a cautionary tale in Vancouver event organization — assume that it will rain. The Enchant Christmas Light Maze is worth your time and offers a pretty cool experience, as it is the largest of its kind in the world. That being said, if you want to go, make sure that it hasn't rained in the last 24 hours.