Celebrating Christmas at the Upper Canada Village
MORRISBURG -- The final touches are being put on displays at Upper Canada Village for the Alight At Night Festival, which begins on Friday.
Celebrating its twentieth year, over one million lights are scattered throughout the Morrisburg park along fences, trees and buildings.
Special events officer Carli Smelko says it is a remarkable sight in the dark.
"When you’re in the village at night when all the lights are on, it’s such a magical experience. It feels very enchanted especially with snow covering," Smelko said.
Some elements have changed for 2020, however, due to the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic.
Train rides, visits to the bakery, horse-drawn wagon rides and carol singing in the church will not be happening, as the park has reduced touch points and gathering spots.
"New elements like a storybook projection on the cheese factory, where you can see a story of Santa as he's preparing for Christmas is one new display," said Smelko. "You’ll also see an icy illumination where we light up the church in a frozen-esque animation."
The crowd favourite sound and light show at Chrysler Hall will also remain.
Months of planning goes into the festival each year, with workers stringing lights at the end of September.
"It’s behind the scenes while Pumkinferno is running actually. We have the lights being put up in the background, so by day it's Alight At Night and night its Pumpkinferno," Smelko said. "It’s a two month process!"
Pat flannagan is a light installer that’s been working on the setup.
"I’m a ground guy. They have a couple guys who do the tress. They take care of the higher stuff and we take care of the lower stuff," Flannagan said, checking connections along a fence line.
"Usually in the morning it’s a little darker so we’ll go around to see if there is any burnt out and change them," Flannagan said.
"I’m not going to lie to you – I enjoy (putting up lights). I enjoy it. I think of myself as an artist," he said with a chuckle.
"The first reaction people get - probably wow! They feel like they are in a different world."
Smelko said Victorian Saint Nick will be in his workshop to speak with children and accept Christmas lists, albeit behind a plexiglass-glass wall.
"Kids can come see him and talk to him through the plexiglass-glass doorway with Santa standing six feet back. And if they want photos taken with Santa, they can stand in front of the big window and pose with him," Smelko said.
The team worked with the Eastern Ontario Health Unit to ensure that the site is safe, using the same guidelines for Pumpkinferno in the fall.
"Everyone at Pumpkinferno - all our comments were completely positive about feeling so safe at Upper Canada Village and we’re confident that they’ll feel the same way at alight the night," Smelko said.
"In lineups, visitors must wear a mask, that is mandatory, but once you're on site you don't have to, but we highly recommend it."
Masks must also be worn in buildings and 60 people will be allowed into the village every half hour to follow a one-way path around the park.
"When you're in the village we encourage you to stay physically distanced from one another. It’s a big site so there’s lots of room to walk through without seeing others," Smelko said.
Two accessibility nights are also being offered on Dec. 9 and 16 for people with limited mobility.
"If you aren’t able to walk through the event, it;s a good opportunity to see all of the lights in the comfort of your own car," added Smelko.
Tickets can only be reserved online and retail for $14. Children under 5 are free.
The festival opens Friday, Nov. 27 and runs until Jan. 2.
For tickets, visit www.Uppercanadavillage.Com/events/alight-at-night/