Festival of Northern Lights set to open Nov. 16

Owen Sound Festival of Northern Lights sign in Harrison Park on Thursday, December 6, 2018 in Owen Sound, Ont. Scott Dunn/The Owen Sound Sun Times/Postmedia Network Scott Dunn / Scott Dunn/Sun Times

Share Adjust Comment Print

Organizers of this year’s Festival of Northern Lights will be unwrapping some new features while showcasing old favourites.

“The festival is trying to go forward in a few different directions. We want to make it more interactive. We want to include some new technologies, but we also want some old-school rope lighting and old-school painted displays,” festival chair Jamie Walpole said Wednesday.

“So we’re not tying ourselves to any one direction because I think it’s a good balance of each that makes a successful display.”

This year’s 32nd edition of the Festival of Northern Lights is set to begin with an Opening Celebration Nov. 16 in the area around the Sydenham River in Owen Sound’s core and continue until Jan. 5.

The most significant debut will be a Winter Wonderland walking path in the Harrison Park campground. It will mark the first time the festival has extended into that area of the park.

“The walking path will have all kinds of light displays and painted displays and it’s going to be pretty cool. We’ve done a lot of work to make sure it looks really good,” Walpole said.

The drive-through, lighted Infinity Tunnel will also return to the park for its second year.

To make the festival more interactive, visitors to Harrison Park will get a chance to snap pictures of their family and friends posing with a new plywood cutout “Festival of Northern Lights jeep,” which will be installed amongst the lighted dinosaurs in the “Jurassic Park” section.

A large “mega box” with 1,600 computer-controlled pixels will also be added to the Harrison Park displays.

“So Harrison Park is actually going to be a very exciting place for us this year. We’ve done a lot to try to enhance it,” Walpole said.

Just over 300 displays will make up the Festival of Northern Lights. They will be installed along the east and west sides of the Sydenham River and at Harrison Park.

Other new displays include a life-size Iron Man cutout, which will also be a photo op location.

This year, there is less space for displays on the east side of the river due to the Downtown River Precinct upgrades, so festival organizers are trying new lighting techniques on the trees to enhance that area.

Walpole said the free Opening Celebration is set to run from 1:30 to 9 p.m.

It will include festive arts and crafts at the Tom Thomson Art Gallery from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., storytime with Mrs. Claus and crafts at the Owen Sound & North Grey Union Public Library at 3:30 p.m. and a fireside ukulele carol sing in the library’s Carnegie wing at 7:30 p.m.

A variety of activities, including crafts, face-painting, a fish pond and a selfie station, will be happening inside the Owen Sound Farmer’s Market from 3:30 to 9 p.m.

Entertainment at the Queen’s Park bandstand is to begin at 5:30 p.m.

The lights will turn on and fireworks will light up the night sky at 7 p.m.

People can then take a walking tour of the displays or check them out from a horse-drawn wagon, which will be departing the market building between 7:30 and 9 p.m.

Walpole said Festival in the Park will also be back this year. It is set for Dec. 7 from 11 to 3 p.m. at Harrison Park and include wagon rides, pony rides, a petting zoo and opportunities to visit with Santa Claus, eat cookies and sip hot chocolate.