I love everything about winter in southeastern Ontario. I celebrate each snowfall, look for new trails to ski and snowshoe on and do all I can to spend as much time as possible in The Great Waterway region. But for people who would rather hibernate, the months between December and February can be long and colourless. However, Kingston’s newest winter attraction, Lumina Borealis, will bring even the most reluctant adventurer into the outdoors to embrace the season.
Lumina Borealis has been somewhat of a mystery: the event was a carefully guarded secret two years in the making, teased out to the public with stunning Instagram photos, Facebook posts and tweets. Billed as a multimedia and immersive outdoor winter attraction, those close to the project would only tell me I needed to experience it for myself to understand Lumina Borealis – which I did in early December with my two young children (ages six and nine) and husband. And while I won’t reveal all of the secrets of Lumina Borealis, I can assure you that it lives up to all of the hype – and offer tips to make the most of your visit.
I was invited my my friends at @LuminaBorealis to experience their new winter attraction first hand. In a season that has everyone rushing, #luminaborealis encourages you to slow down. Best experienced with friends, family, warm mitts and curiosity. #greatwaterway #winter #winterwonderland #freshmadedaily #kingston #loveygk #ygk #discoverontario #discoverON #familytravel #travelON
Remember what it’s like to be a kid again
No one loves winter more than a young child, and their natural curiosity is at home at Lumina Borealis. Watching my kids interact with each element of Lumina reminded me to always ask questions about what I’m seeing – there’s often a hidden story waiting to be told.
Walk slowly through the Sleeping Woods
Just like in nature, woodland creatures can be shy. Walk slowly through the Sleeping Woods, where fresh evergreen trees greet you with their bracing fragrance and twinkling lights. Stay long enough and you can watch the wildlife wake up from their winter slumber. This was a highlight for my children.
Cozy up to the warming hearths at the Storyteller’s Flame
This was our family’s favourite part of Lumina Borealis. Not only were there deliciously warm fit pit (continually stoked by Fort Henry staff) but there are truly secrets here to be revealed. Fort Henry staff gave us a few clues on how to unlock the secrets here, but I encourage you to take a few moments by the fire to discover them for yourself.
Sing like no one is listening
Make new friends at the Frozzinator
Where does winter really come from? The Frozzinator, of course! The magic of Lumina is displayed here in a whimsical and interactive game that invites you to toss golden globes to make up a cheery tune. Step up to the mic again to sing your favourite carols. Seeing adults and children laughing together as winter creeps closer on this frozen finale is the heart of Lumina Borealis and not to be missed (this is also where warm gloves come in handy!)
Lumina Borealis: Know before you go
Where: Fort Henry National Historic Site, Kingston, Ontario
When: Thursday to Sunday, Dec. 1, 2016 to Jan. 11, 2017, 5 to 11 p.m.
Fridays & Saturdays, Jan. 12 to Feb. 4, 2017, 5:30 to 10:00pm.
Thursdays & Sundays, Jan. 12 to Feb. 4, 2017, 5:30 to 9:00pm.
Cost: Adults – $12, Children 6-12 – $10, Children 5 and under – free. Buy tickets
What to wear: warm winter gear (mittens or gloves, hat, boots, coat). Hand warmers to stash in your pockets would keep tiny fingers warm. The terrain can be uneven, wear sturdy boots to navigate the snow.
Bathrooms: at the beginning and end of the tour
How to get there: Free parking is available at Fort Henry (1 Fort Henry Dr.) but you can also take the free shuttle that leaves from the Visitor Information Centre across from Kingston City Hall.