As a dad, I rely on magic over the winter holidays.
"How does Santa get down the chimney?" my daughters ask.
"Magic," I reply.
"How does he deliver presents to all the kids around the world?"
"To all the good kids? Magic."
While it has proved indispensable as an explanation (and disciplinary tool), "magic" was starting to feel like a bit of a cop-out before I experienced Lumina Borealis in Kingston.
That's when everything changed. If you want to restore your faith in magic, while proving to your offspring that it is real, visit the dazzling multimedia installation that's slated to return to the Fort Henry National Historic Site this December for its third winter.
I jumped at the chance to check out Lumina Borealis at the tail end of my family's circuitous holiday road trip around Ontario and Quebec. I was drawn to the stirring outdoor setting I had only experienced in summer – never before has the 181-year-old fort offered anything on this scale in winter – and was intrigued by a comment from the daughter of St. Lawrence Parks Commission CEO Darren Dalgleish, which is said to have inspired the project: "You need to do Frozen meets It's a Wonderful Life."
My inner audiovisual aficionado, meanwhile, wondered what $3-million worth of projection, light and sound equipment looks like.
In short, it looks out of this world. Our walking tour of the lower fort took about 90 minutes, and I could spend at least that long describing the interactive, immersive wonders that unfolded as my family strolled, awestruck, around the yawning dry moat. After wandering through a glowing assembly of stylized icebergs and an evergreen forest clad in iridescent icicles, we reached a towering stone wall blazing with projected colours. Our shadows appeared on the wall as we passed, but not in their usual form. Instead, they somehow morphed into the swirling display, enticing us to twirl, jump and dance.
As one silver-haired visitor giddily remarked, "This takes me back to the sixties."
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