Shine Bright: Christmas Lights Across Canada

Last year we told you to prepare to be dazzled, and we're doing it again this year with the 32nd edition of the Christmas Lights Across Canada program, presented by the Government of Canada in partnership with Manulife.


The official Illumination Ceremony will take place tomorrow night (Wednesday December 7th) at 7 p.m. on Parliament Hill. I will be there with the whole family, and we'd love for you to join us. Last year, almost 20,000 people gathered on Parliament Hill to take in the sights and sounds of the magical winter lightscapes multimedia show. The show was followed by a beautiful display of fireworks. The gentle "pop, pop" noises of the pyrotechnics against the snowy backdrop was a highlight for my two girls!

We know it's a busy time of year, so if you can't make it tomorrow night, you can join in LIVE on Facebook. The evening's festivities will broadcast from the Capital Experience Facebook Page


What IS a magical winter lightscapes multimedia show?

I had no idea what to expect last year - I was thinking something along the lines of the summer multimedia show that plays on Centre block each year. But this show is a bit more engaging for the entire family, from young to old! The fairy tale story follows the exciting journey of Grizzli, Fox and Snowman through imaginary landscapes on their quest for light. The show is inspired by Canada’s nature, climate and culture, and there is so much to take in!

When can I see the show?

The official Illumination Ceremony takes place tomorrow evening, December 7. There will be free Beaver Tails pastries and hot chocolate. And new this year, some live musical performances from the musical show Décembre.

A warning: do NOT promise your kids a Beaver Tail. I made this mistake last year, and when we arrived at 7 p.m., the lineup was about 500 people long (and then they ran out.) If you're hoping for a sweet treat, you'd be best to arrive as early as possible. Or follow our lead, and pack hot chocolate in a thermos and stop off for some Timbits on the way!

If you miss the opening night, the magical winterscapes multimedia show runs every evening until December 25th (presented on loop from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m.)

The multimedia show ends early this year, because preparations are underway for a huge New Year's party on the Hill - Canada's 150th anniversary kick-off! You can still check out the Christmas lights until January 7th.

Tips for Going

We drove downtown last year, because it's a long bus ride and we knew the kids would be tired. We had to park about 2km away from the Hill, as there were A LOT of people. Things should quiet down a bit after the Illumination Ceremony, and street parking is free in the evenings.

I'm assuming the snow will stick around tomorrow, so if you plan on attending tomorrow night, make sure kids are bundled up really well. You may want to consider a sled if you have a long trek from the car, but make it a small plastic one that you can easily carry. The snow had turned to a huge sea of mush last year, and it was difficult walking. Prepare your kids for the crowds, or consider attending another night if your child has sensitivities to a lot of people/noise/lights.


Anything else I should know?

In addition to the show, don't forget all the lights! Go for a walk in Confederation Park to see thousands of holiday lights on display. 

Another cool feature this year will be Prismatica, a major art installation. While attending the multimedia show on the Hill, visitors can walk among the 24 giant colourful prisms installed. See city life in every colour of the spectrum, and turn the prisms to make the colours dance!

Did you see the Christmas Lights Across Canada last year? Will we see you there tomorrow night?