May 23, 2022

The City of Cambridge brought back a community favourite, the Winter Illumination, to kick off this year’s holiday season. The decorative light installations spread across the city aim to bring the community together and add some light to these dark winter nights.

According to the City of Cambridge website, Winter Illumination was brought back “by popular demand,” and will shine brighter with more installations than last year.

Some installations will be returning, such as the Main Street boardwalk tunnel, Jacob’s Landing waterfall and pergola, Craig’s Crossing Pedestrian Bridge, and Central Park,

One of the anticipated new installations this year is Fuse at Queen’s Square, a series of thermal activated poles that light up with colour from body heat.

Fuse Winter Illuminations installation at Queen’s Square. Photographed by Merissa Busato.

“I passed by Fuse being installed a bit ago, and I was wondering what it was all about,” said Theresa Richmond, a community member visiting the Fuse installation. “It’s pretty to see the colours start dancing when I walk closer to it. It gives me an excuse to get outside.”

Another interactive installation includes the Singing Tree at City Hall. Instead of reacting to heat, this installation responds to noise – visitors who sing and clap can watch the tree lights change to the sounds they make.

A few of the installations offer perfectly curated photo opportunities, such as the Holiday Arch at City Hall – it allows pedestrians to pose underneath an arch shaped as an ornament.

Joe Lethbridge, the artist responsible for the installation, “Shine Some Hope on Others” inside the storefront window of The W in downtown Galt last year, was welcomed back to create another installation at the same location this year.

The installation, “Solace: Nature’s Saving Grace,” uses elements like pinecones, leaves, and flowers, inspired by Lethbridge’s daily walks in nature.

Lethbridge noticed an increase in people spending time outdoors during COVID-19, recognizing the benefits in tuning out of social media.

“I utilize nature in the majority of my art, because of my daily walks in nature,” the artist said. “All it [nature] has to offer me is therapy.”

Left: Joe Lethbridge, a Winter Illumination installation artist. Photo via Joe Lethbridge’s Instagram. (@j_lethbridge)
Right: Solace: Nature’s Saving Grace, the installation at The W in Galt. Photo submitted by Joe Lethbridge.

While Lethbridge looks forward to visiting the Queen’s Square Christmas tree, he’s also excited for what the glittering installations offer everyone.

“I enjoy it primarily because it brings the community out,” he said. “Secondly, because any local artist is invited to apply, regardless of skill or professional recognition as an artist.”

On Dec. 1, events to kick off Winter Illumination took place at Cambridge City Hall, Hespeler Town Hall, and Central Park in Preston from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m., with food trucks and live entertainment. The Old Post Office in downtown Galt also held a projection show from 7 p.m. to 9:30 p.m.

Community members who were unable to attend the Dec. 1 events will still have the chance to participate in two Winter Illumination pop-up events at Civic Square.

Both events will begin at 7 p.m. and be catered by a Beavertails food truck. The Dec. 8 pop-up will have live music played by Shy Harry, and the Dec. 15 pop-up will play live music by Pilot Project.

The installations will turn on after sunset once it’s dark enough, but some, such as the Wonder Cube at Idea Exchange Hespeler, will only turn on after the building is closed for the evening.

The 26 installations will be available to view from Dec. 1 until Jan. 2.

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