Centennial Square has been transformed into a forest of lights for the first Lights of Wonder Display.
The holiday light village was a massive purchase by the Downtown Victoria Business Association (DVBA), which bought the collection for $500,000 paid over the next five years.
The festival has transformed the square into a valley of lights featuring illuminated trees and features, as well as live entertainment including performers from the SKAM Festival and music.
“There’s no tickets, no gates no fences; people can come enjoy the space as much as they like,” said DVBA executive director Jeff Bray. “It’s a gift from the downtown businesses to the region, so we’re really excited to be at this point today.”
The Lights of Wonder was originally set to open on Dec. 13, but faced some delays when the set-up team faced technical difficulties. Originally the DVBA had also planned on installing food vendors, merchants and a beer garden, but it ran out of time this year to attain all the health permits.
“Nothing of this scale has been done in Centennial Square, so we’re breaking new ground,” Bray said. “As we ventured in we discovered various health regulation and this year made it too difficult to do… there’s just not a lot of room for food trucks, but that’s certainly something we’re going to look at is how we can explore those options next year. But, we want people to explore downtown as well and check out some of those food options.”
Comparatively, other annual holiday investments at the site cost around $130,000, even when that only meant renting equipment such as a Ferris wheel or an ice rink. With the purchase of the displays, the DVBA plans on bringing in new versions of the Lights of Wonder every year.
“We’re excited already for next year for how we can bring more community groups in to enliven the space, put on different performances, and bring different themes,” Bray said.
The display will be open to the public for free in the evenings between now and Jan. 4.
The lights will be on Sunday through Thursday from 4 to 9 p.m., and Friday through Saturday from 4 to 10 p.m. It will be closed Dec. 25 and 31.
For more information visit lightsofwonder.ca.