The 53rd annual Cavalcade of Lights began around 7pm with a traditional welcome from Elder Garry Sault of the Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation. Elder Sault said that the Christmas tree lighting would not only light up Nathan Phillips Square, but it will light up the hearts of all Torontonian people. Later on in the night, Mayor John Tory marked the official start of the holiday season by welcoming hundreds of Torontonians to Nathan Phillips Square. He spoke about the significance of this tradition and how it serves to bring people together on a cold (-2 degree) night, then he led the count down to light the tree.
Families and friends were all skating on the ice and dancing to the fun tunes by DJ MelBoogie. It’s not really the official start of the holidays in Toronto until you put on those skates and glide around on Nathan Phillips Square’s skating rink! Did you know, that there are 54 outdoor skating rinks offered by the city? If you’re looking for something else to do besides skating this winter, city staff have created a whole list of Toronto winter adventures for you to enjoy.
The two musical performances last night from Riit and Lemon Bucket Orkestra were very entertaining. They presented fresh sounds that intentionally didn’t try to fit into one genre. Riit, an electro-pop musician from Nunavut, incorporated traditional Inuit throat-singing into her music as a way to preserve her culture. She sang in Inuktitut, but explained the messages of her songs in English. She sang about a range of meaningful topics such as the intergenerational trauma that Indigenous people faced in residential schools, the ‘Me Too’ movement, and more. It was really beautiful. Kudos to Toronto staff for bringing talent all the way from the Canadian North to celebrate how diverse this country is.
The second performance from Lemon Bucket Orkestra got the entire audience moving! They describe themselves as “Toronto’s original guerrilla-folk party-punk” ensemble. The band encouraged the audience to dance along to their fun, charismatic holiday songs, which we happily did to stay warm in the freezing cold!
There were two circus performances spread out in the square. The Winter Queen came walking on stilts with her three snowflake-men dangling up in the air. They swayed from side to side and spun around while the Queen waved to us all. At the edges of the square, you would be greeted by knights and wooden birds.
Lighting of the Tree
And the moment we’ve all been waiting for! The first lighting of the 15-metre Christmas Tree brought a bare naked tree to life. The lights and decorations are made possible thanks to Toronto Hydro. Other sponsors of the event include the Great Gulf, Tim Hortons, the Toronto Real Estate Board, City TV, Omni, Chum and the Toronto Star.
The Cavalcade of Lights ended with a magical, bright display of fireworks. In Canadian winters, we need all the light we can get, so the fireworks show was a great way to end the night and get us into the holiday spirit!
Have you ever been to the Cavalcade of Lights? What sorts of things do you like to do to get in the holiday spirit? Let me know in the comments below!