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Parliament Hill: Northern Lights Sound and Light Show

By Chris

We are fortunate in Ottawa to have access to so many activities and opportunities designed for a national audience. For the past thirty years one of those opportunities has been the Parliament Hill Sound and Light Show. Since 2000 a new show has been launched every five years with the newest show - Northern Lights being launched in 2015.

 Stained glass Parliament

Stained glass Parliament

Northern Lights is a bilingual show offered every night from July 10 to September 12. There is no cost to view the show. The show starts at ten pm in July, 9:30 in August (9:45 during the annual fireworks competition) and 9pm in September. 

 Tulips from Holland

Tulips from Holland

The show provides an overview of Canadian history through sound and light. The Northern Lights show is organized through five themes (Nation-building, partnership, discovery, valour, pride and vision). 

 Original building and the story of the fire at Parliament

Original building and the story of the fire at Parliament

We haven’t yet taken our oldest two kids to the show because of the time, but we did take our toddler (in the hopes that she would fall asleep) and there were many families on the hill for the show. We initially arrived around 8:30 and while many people were already securing spots, we decided to go for a walk and come back closer to the start of the show. We didn’t realize we would need our own seating for the show so be sure to bring chairs or blankets to sit on. Fortunately the weather was beautiful and the ground was dry so we could sit right on the grass.

 Fathers of Confederation

Fathers of Confederation

The images projected on Centre Block are impressive and take the audience on a journey through Canadian history. It is a challenge to cover 400 years of history in a 30 minute show. The show touches on limited points and people in the development and history of our country. 

 West coast aboriginals erecting a totem pole

West coast aboriginals erecting a totem pole

Younger kids will enjoy the visuals and learn new things about their country (If they can stay awake long enough). The show lasts about 30 minutes. For older kids the show will provide plenty of opportunities for expanded conversations afterwards. 

At the end of the show O Canada played and the whole audience stood and many people sang along. I always find it an amazing experience to be on the lawn of Parliament singing O Canada whether it is Canada Day or at this show.

Have you been to the lights show with your kids? What did you think?

Chris is a Canadian father of three girls, and writes a great blog called Dad Goes Round. Connect with him on his Facebook page!