Mack in particular has been harsh on the Winter Light Festival in the past, but necessarily so, because we know how much potential it has to make the cold months in our city more bearable. Tonight, though, we were absolutely buzzing after attending Illuminations, a spectacular show that can and should legitimately become the jewel in the crown of winter festivals in Edmonton.
We didn’t make it out to Illuminations last year, but we did in 2009, and found the event to be underwhelming. There were decorations, bonfires, and a few roving performers, but it wasn’t anything that would draw us back again. I’m happy to say that this year’s edition was quite the opposite.
It was chilly out, nearly –30 with wind chill (easily twenty degrees colder than when we visited Ice on Whyte last weekend), but Churchill Square still held a sizable crowd.
Gathering around the fire
We arrived just before the finale performance, and had time to take in some of the visual installations, the bonfires, and marvel at the “winter people”, actors dressed in white and trailed throughout the Square by targeted spotlights.
Circus Orange is a Toronto-based pyrotechnic circus performance troupe – but really, all you need to know is that they were amazing.
The show begins
Their show combined dance, stunts, pyrotechnics, and a good old fashioned clown, and was mesmerizing for both children and adults alike.
The clown tames the monsters with…marshmallows!
The show began in front of the Art Gallery of Alberta, luring the crowd with a striking, monstrous steel tricycle outfitted with flares. The tricycle eventually moved into Churchill Square towards City Hall, and everyone followed like the obedient ducklings we were, frozen, but eager to see what would come next.
Follow that trike!
The finale was unexpected and extravagant. We thought the climax had arrived when a female performer was lifted into the air by a massive crane, waving sparklers, but in actuality, that was just a teaser.
When sparks fly
The actual conclusion involved the same performer, again lifted in the air, but harnessed into the large tricycle wheel, spinning fifty feet above the crowd, sparks flying, and City Hall aglow behind the spectacle. Fireworks were icing on the cake.
Up in the air
Congratulations to the organizers of Winter Light for a fabulous event. As Mack said in his post, we hope this calibre of a performance is something we can look forward to every year – once word gets out, we can only imagine it will become a must-see affair for those in Edmonton and beyond, regardless of the weather!