If you want a glitzy, surreal, over-the-top light extravaganza, then get yee to the Aurora Winter Festival at Toronto’s Ontario Place, East Island. Part amusement park, part outdoor winter fun, part Alice in Wonderland, it’s a sprawling, shiny installation, an all-out ode to the Arctic complete with Aurora Borealis, glittering Narwhals, moose, reindeer, sparkling bubble gum pink cherry blossoms, weeping willows a mystical maze, an outdoor skating rink, a tube park, and even a candy coloured Ferris wheel!
The low down on the Aurora Winter Festival in Toronto
November 29 – December 30, 2018
Aurora festival highlights
The Arctic Retreat: Make your way through light tunnel and a maze of snow-packed walls and ice shards This world of ice and snow features ice sculptures, electric orbs, and icicles scattered throughout.
The Luminous Gardens: Home to the palace and ice throne, this world is completely surreal with shimmering willows and pink flowered trees and massive cherry bomb coloured flowers and even a unicorn.
The Whimsical Forest: A quirky world with many curious things. Check out the fox, the gingerbread hut, and the gnome village (toddlers and littles will like this a lot!).
The Disco Den: The Disco Cube is filled with fun including giant animal sculptures, the yeti cave, and an LED dance floor.
Roaming mystical creatures: Kids will love meeting ice elves, the Ice Queen and a friendly Yeti named Yin who loves to disco dance.
Amusement style attractions: Climb the stairs to the 200 foot tube park (imagine tubing in downtown Vancouver!), take the little ones on a choo-choo train, or climb on the candy coloured 60-foot ferris wheel to get a bird’s eye view of the entire festival site.
The Market Village: Pick up Christmas gifts and stocking stuffers one of the many local vendors.
Pro tips: Look for ticket deals for off-peak visits. This is not an inexpensive outing, and attractions cost extra, but it’s a one-off, and the kids at opening night loved it.
Word to the wise: If your tastes lean to the great outdoors, woodsy walks and frosty winter outings, this may not be your thing. If you (or the kids more like) like the CNE and you want a fantastical festive experience, then give it a go.
Extreme weather: If the weather is particularly cold, windy or blizzardish, the Fest may close for the evening, so check the website before going.