Montreal

Cavalia's dazzling holiday light show expected to attract 500,000 visitors

Illumi – Féerie de lumières, a wonderland featuring 10 million lights, a giant tree and a Christmas village just off Highway 15 and De Souvenir Boulevard in Laval, is open to visitors until Jan. 5.

With its 10 million lights, Illumi - Féerie de lumières in Laval is the largest spectacle of its kind on Earth

The holiday light show and Christmas village is made up of more than 10 million lights. (Cavalia)

Normand Latourelle calls himself a dreamer. 

"I like to invent stuff that doesn't exist," says the founder of Montreal-based Cavalia, best known for the multimedia acrobatic equestrian show that has toured the world since 2003.

Latourelle's latest project — Illumi – Féerie de lumières — has transformed a site the size of seven NFL football fields just off Highway 15 and De Souvenir Boulevard in Laval into an alternate universe: a multimedia installation featuring more than 10 million coloured lights.

The site has eight different themed zones decked out with lights. (Marilla Steuter-Martin/CBC)

Latourelle said in constructing the colossal sound-and-light show for visitors to walk through and interact with, he wanted to create a "dazzling world" that would be both beautiful and immersive.

"It gave me an opportunity to have fabulous saturated colours," he said of the millions of LED lights designed and manufactured for the show. "I thought it was a good tool to create a world of fantasy."

According to Cavalia's website, Illumi is "the largest multimedia sound and light show on the planet."

Since the lights are all LED, Latourelle said, they consume much less energy than any other alternative.

Strong winds no friend

Inaugurated in November, Illumi is on until Jan. 5 and is slated to return to Laval at the same time each year for the next four years.

Organizers say that by the end of the show's run, they will have welcomed 500,000 visitors. 

Latourelle said actually setting up the spectacle was the biggest challenge.

The team worked on the site for four months, but lost half their work when strong winds blew down 40 per cent of the structures right before the show's debut.

Latourelle said they had to scramble to set everything back up in a week.

"We have exhausted the electrician, to tell you the truth," he joked.

The pieces that make up the installation were designed by Cavalia's team in Montreal and manufactured in China. (Marilla Steuter-Martin/CBC)

This winter's weather has not been a friend to Illumi, with freezing rain and snow blanketing the infrastructure more than once.

Still, Latourelle was confident enough that the installation could withstand whatever the winter could throw at it. Last year, he set up a portion of the installation in the backyard of his country home in the Eastern Townships.

"We tested if it can resist our beautiful Quebec weather," he said.

His mini-production wasn't exactly inconspicuous, however.

"I had to shut it down because there were too many people coming to my field."


Illumi runs until Jan. 5, 2020. Tickets start at $24.

About the Author

Marilla Steuter-Martin has been a journalist with CBC Montreal since 2015.

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