Vancouver is joining cities worldwide this Saturday in turning off all non-essential lights for 60 minutes as part of Earth Hour.

The global initiative is designed to address climate change, but it has also allowed urban dwellers to see their cities in a whole new light — darkness.

Last year, couples enjoyed candle-lit dinners at restaurants around Vancouver, children played flashlight tag and the stars returned to the skies above.

On Thursday, Environment Minister Barry Penner said all government buildings will be turning off non-essential lights between 8:30 p.m. and 9:30 p.m.

“Turning our lights off for a single hour may not seem like much, but it’s a symbolic gesture of global proportions,” Penner said.

The University of B.C., for the second year in a row, is asking all 60,000 of its students and staff to turn this into Earth Weekend by unplugging computers, monitors, printers, photocopiers, lighting and — where possible — additional heating and ventilation systems.

“This year, our target is a five per cent reduction (in power consumption),” said Orion Henderson, associate director of UBC’s Sustainability Office.

How to spend your Earth Hour

Pass the time:
• Go outside and look at the stars.
• Find a viewing spot like Grouse Mountain or Harbour Centre to watch the city go dark.
• Go for a lantern walk through Stanley Park.
• Have a board game party.
• Have an acoustic music jam.
• Tell ghost stories.
• Do candlelight yoga.

Restaurants serving dinner by candlelight:
• Griffins Restaurant at the Fairmont Hotel, 900 West Georgia St.
• Yew restaurant at the Four Seasons Hotel, 791 West Georgia St.
• Seawall Bar and Grill at the Westin Bayshore Hotel, 1601 Bayshore Dr.
• La Terrazza Restaurant, 1088 Cambie St.
• Raincity Grill, 1193 Denman St.
• C Restaurant, 1600 Howe St.
• Nu Restaurant and Lounge, 1661 Granville St.