Sounds & Lights Show on Parliament Hill

I remember the first time I attended the Sound and Lights show on Parliament Hill - it was late August, and a beautiful night (not too hot, not too cold!). I left my toddler at home as the 9:30 p.m. start time seemed late for an 18 month old. I was totally blown away by the show - it is truly a feast for all the senses. Several years later we attended the winter sound and lights show with our two girls, and they still rave about the "magical castle."

This summer you are once again in for a treat with Northern Lights - the latest instalment of the Sound and Lights show. I plan on checking it out in early September (when the start time is 9 p.m.) but we polled our readers to get some feedback on attending the show - either solo or with kids! Also, check out last year's review by Kids in the Capital contributor Chris!

How to get there

I encourage you to use OC Transpo and make it a big adventure, but I know that's not always convenient. If you plan on driving, know that you can't park ON Parliament Hill itself, so you will need to find parking on a side street or a paid lot, and walk up. One reader said she parked at the World Exchange Plaza (45 O'Connor St.) - parking is free there on weekends!

When to go

Show times are 10 p.m. in July, 9:30 p.m. in August, and 9 p.m. in early September. Weekends are probably a bit busier than weeknights, although remember that Parliament Hill is big - lots of space to find a seat!

What to bring

"We brought a wagon for the little kids, just in case, and some drinks and snacks in a cooler. We also brought a couple of picnic blankets to sit on." (Carly H.) You can also bring chairs or blankets, but remember you need to lug them from your car onto the hill. Most people sit right on the ground on blankets!

What to expect

"I thought the show itself was really good. There was a fair bit of history in it for a 30 minute show, but it was quick in that the scenes changed constantly and the moments of history were brief but informative. The lights themselves were incredible - so beautiful and precise." (Carly H.)

"My kids... learned a lot throughout, and asked questions.The show was beautiful, more than they had imagined it could be. My son was so proud to be Canadian when it was done." (Karen D.)

If you have children with sensitivities to noise and lights, it may be too much for them to take in. Our reader Carly noted that the sound was loud and echo-y, and the lights were bright at times, so some children may find it hard to handle.

Who would enjoy this show?

The Sound & Lights show is great for all ages, although you know your child(ren) best! Several readers commented that their younger ones were fidgety after about 20 minutes, but that children 10 and older really got a lot out of the history and heritage. Super young kids and babies may just fall asleep, or be dazzled by the lights long enough for you to enjoy the show.

And it also makes a great date night! Consider getting childcare, indulging in a nice meal downtown, and then walking over to the show to end your night. Very romantic to be sitting on a blanket with your loved one!

Have you been to the sound and lights show? What did you think?