Tuesday, 9 December 2014

Light Displays

Winter can be a depressing time.  You wake up in the dark, endure short grey days, and the sun sets at the obscene time of 4:15 PM.  It's little wonder why many cultures have festivals of lights in late December and early January.  Montrealers are no strangers to winter, and we've made some terrific light displays in the city to compensate for the long nights.

Place Ville Marie Tree
The lighting of this artificial tree in the Place Ville Marie plaza has been a downtown tradition since the opening of the PVM office complex in 1962.  Made in New York by Donald H. Gorman and Associates, the conical sculpture stands 19.2 meters high and measures 7.92 meters wide, and shines with over 13,000 lights.  The tree is installed in the plaza on the first Monday in November and remains until the middle of the following January.

Photo courtesy Susan Moss, 2012

Light Idea-O-Rama
Mount Royal Avenue takes pedestrians into a comic book world for the holidays.  One hundred light-boxes have been attached to lamp posts and public structures along the length of the avenue, depicting the work of Montreal-based illustrators Mireille St-Pierre and Michel Hellman.  Each panel humorously shows off the difficulties and the joys of winter life in Montreal.  The display will be visible until March 2015.

Old Montreal
During the holidays, the streets of historical Old Montreal are carefully decorated to evoke feelings of Christmases past.  Trees glitter with lights as well as snow, and statues are bathed in soft luminescent colours.  One of the best ways to see it is to join one of the Christmas Secrets walking tours where a professional guide introduces wanderers to the charms of New France and the sparkling windows of shops and museums.

Photo courtesy Aghear on flickr.com , 2010

Look Up
The streets aren't the only place to find light displays around the city.  Three of the most well-known installations in Montreal are above eye level. 1. The four-beam rotating beacon on the roof of the Place Ville Marie office tower can be seen as far as 50 km away.  The light belongs to the building's anchor tenant, the Royal Bank of Canada.  2.  The pyramid-shaped mechanical penthouse of the McGill Tower is normally lit white, but during certain holidays or events the colours are changed. Currently it's lit white, green, and red for Christmas.  3. The 31 meter high steel cross on the northeast summit of Mount Royal can be seen from most vantage points in the city, and it's made all the more striking when lit up at night by 158 18-LED bulbs.


  1. I love Christmas lights and I agree... it totally helps brighten things up during the dark days in Dec and Jan!

  2. How beautiful! I wish more towns in our area did this! -M