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Dwindling sponsorship snuffs out Celebration of Light

Falling sponsorship has extinguished Vancouver’s signature fireworks festival after 18 years.

Falling sponsorship has extinguished Vancouver’s signature fireworks festival after 18 years.

The HSBC Celebration of Light, produced by the Vancouver Fireworks Festival Society, announced Wednesday that it was unable to retain and add enough sponsorships to pay for the $4 million event.

Brent MacGregor, chair of the Fireworks Society, said “the current financial situation makes it impossible … to continue.

“It has been an exceptional 18-year event — the largest of its kind in the world — and it is a credit to our many exceptional sponsors that we kept the event going year after year,” he added.

The cancellation is expected to have a domino effect financially, as the festival attracted roughly 350,000 to 400,000 spectators to the shores of English Bay each of the four nights of the show. It is estimated that as much as $37 million in direct visitor spending could be lost.

Vancouver Mayor Gregor Robertson said he is disappointed and added the city was prepared to continue its support of the event.

The Celebration of Light, which is presented free for spectators, first ran into sponsorship shortages after cigarette maker Benson and Hedges pulled their funding due to federal regulation of tobacco advertising.

Over the past eight years it has attracted participants from Canada, U.S., China, Spain and several other countries.

 
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