Light up your night with Illumi

Illumi’s third installation has returned back to Laval

The third installation of Illumi is back and better than ever. Being a Laval native, I have visited Illumi for the past three years, ever since it began back in 2019.  Illumi is the biggest village of lights in all of North America, according to a blog published by Narcity. This year, I was truly impressed with all the new light installations and upgrades. With the COVID-19 restrictions easing up here in Quebec, they came back bigger and stronger.

Back when Illumi started in 2019, I visited with my family and we did the walking tour of the exhibit which felt as if I walked into a fairytale land. The twinkling lights were magical and got me into the Christmas spirit. However, in the back of my mind it reminded me of Jardin botanique’s Jardins de Lumière, which I also try to attend yearly. Overall, I felt that the first year of Illumi was a nice way to start the holiday season.

When I visited in 2020, I felt like I was ripped off, to be blunt. I paid close to $60 for my sister and I to see Illumi from the car. The whole drive didn’t even last the entire hour and I felt they had reused a lot of the installations and lights that I saw in the first year.

However, Illumi had promoted themselves pretty ferociously around Laval and Montreal, so I was very much enticed to return for the third consecutive year, which was now a walking edition. I hoped that the disappointment from last year wouldn’t happen again given that more than 80 percent of the light structure is new, according to Illumi’s website.

This year’s edition of Illumi allowed visitors to either do the exhibit from the car or on-foot experience. I truly felt that was a great option, even with the COVID-19 restrictions easing up, as there are still people that feel uneasy around others.

Additionally, if you would like to enter Illumi by foot this year, you will have to show proof of vaccination in order to enter. While going out to movie theaters and concerts is a no-go for people that are not vaccinated, Illumi serves as an option as something to go out, as a vaccination passport is not required for the car version of Illumi.

The first light installment that you are greeted with when you first enter is the new land of the vegetables, featuring a bunch of fruits and vegetables with cute faces on them. I thought this first part of the exhibit was cute, but it didn’t necessarily take my breath away.

I feel that the highlight of the exhibit and also a new addition to Illumi is definitely the land of the dinosaurs. I highly suggest taking your kids here if they’re fans of Jurassic World, as a walk through the park will give them a taste of what it’s really like to be walking among the giants. All the dinosaurs and other animals move, and there’s a massive mammoth which reminded me of Manny from the Ice Age movies. While looking around at this exhibit, I was able to talk to a visitor named Anthony Matano. He gave me his first hand experience, saying, “Having gone in blind, I was pleasantly surprised by the unique and original light installations that wouldn’t typically be expected at a Christmas-themed light exhibit. My favourite section was the dinosaur world simply due to its originality, it made me feel like I was in a real life Jurassic Park.”

Another thing I wanted to add was that, while I was walking through the exhibit I saw the cars passing on the other side of the exhibit. There were even stop signs and crossing guards for people to cross the different paths at Illumi.

Without spoiling too much, I strongly urge everyone to come to Laval and visit Illumi. This year’s edition will definitely be worth the drive and the smiles on your loved one’s faces.

 

Photos by Dalia Nardolillo

Categories
Arts

Illumi, an ode to winter’s beauty and magic

The incredible outdoor light show proves that winter isn’t so bad after all

As winter progresses and the days become shorter, Illumi–A Dazzling World of Lights by Cavalia–which took place in Laval from Nov. 1 to Jan. 5, showcased winter’s beauty with millions of gorgeous lights, all while transporting visitors through different places with sight and sound.

Illumi offers much more than a dazzling, original, and seemingly endless universe of lights. The experience also includes food trucks and numerous small stores to visit, all placed at the main entrance of the course and referred to as the Christmas Market.

Illumi presents eight different worlds, beginning with The Many Colours of the Savanna, followed by Feliz Navidad, Infinite Poles, Santa’s Real Home, Dreaming of the Star, The Merry-Go-Round Square, Magic Lanterns and Frolic on the Boulevard. These different worlds are placed on a course and visitors are free to visit at their own rhythm, though the light show’s website states that it takes 90 minutes to get through them all.

When I attended with my family over the break, we spent over two hours outdoors which allowed us to disconnect from our phones and spend time together and talk. We began in the The Many Colours of the Savanna, which showcased animals composed of different coloured fairy lights; elephants, giraffes, flamingos, zebras and lions were presented beautifully. Trees were also different shades of white, purple and green. The bright adventure was accompanied by african music which seemed to melt the snow away and transport us back to summer.

Moving on to Feliz Navidad, the even brighter coloured world represented the beauty of South America, drawing inspiration from multiple hispanic cultures, from Mexico to Perù. The exhibition celebrated the multiculturalism of South America through its visuals and blend of different types of hispanic music. This world contained llamas, giant piñatas, birds, Indigenous-inspired masks, butterflies, flowers and a multitude of other tropical animals. It was a nice part of the Illumi experience as I was able to feel pride for being part of the latinx community.

Infinite Poles contained many arctic animals such as penguins, polar bears and deer, surrounded by a seemingly-endless legion of stalagmites and igloos of different sizes and colours to explore. Infinite Poles was also accompanied by a very adorable holiday world which exhibited snowmen, gifts and snowflakes among other holiday symbols.

Although Illumi is a light show throughout, a short film titled Dreaming of the Star  was presented on a large screen that was solely made up of lightbulbs–four million in total. The multimedia tale told the story of two siblings who went on a quest to find the brightest star in the sky to decorate their christmas tree.

The Merry-Go-Round Square, which had a carousel composed of white cavalia horses, gave visitors a fun place to rest. Magic Lanterns was mainly composed of Asian fauna and references to samurai and geishas, as well as pandas, fish, dragons and cherry blossom trees. Frolic on the Boulevard honoured Hollywood with a bright silhouette of Marilyn Monroe as well as a clapperboard, among other pop culture references, all accompanied by popular film scores.

Though its prices and location aren’t the most accessible, Illumi filled visitors with wonder over the holidays.

 

Photo by Camila Caridad Rivas

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