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Halifax holiday show in Grand Parade hits the right notes with spectators

City’s virtual light show draws people in with music and lights

3 min read
caption The 12-metre high Christmas tree was the main attraction at the virtual show.
Zarnigar Khan

HRM residents were pleasantly surprised as they started their holiday festivities with the municipality’s holiday projection show at Grand Parade.

The virtual show opened with a tree lighting ceremony, following social distancing rules, last Saturday and runs until Jan. 1.

The main attraction at Grand Parade is a 12-metre high Christmas tree adorned with 7,455 lights. The south wall of the city hall is illuminated with colourful patterns, making it look like a gingerbread house, until the show starts with a beat of a drum. Snowflakes start to fall in an illuminated 2-D virtual image and the lights change with the beat of the music. The show is three minutes and 21 seconds long, and runs every 15 minutes, seven days a week from 4:30 p.m. to 9:45 p.m.

caption The south wall of the city hall was projected as a virtual gingerbread house.
Zarnigar Khan

“It’s really well done,” Taylor Morash said in an interview after watching the show at Grand Parade on Monday.

Her favourite part of the show was the Christmas tree. “It’s magnificent, it’s big, it’s bright,” said Morash.

Leigh Howarth, a student from England living in Halifax, came to see the show and was impressed.

“If I had a child, if I had kids, I would definitely bring one to see this. It just brings about light when times are a bit dark,” Howarth said.

The show uses singers, as well as Indigenous and African drums in an adaptation of the Christmas song, Carol of the Bells. The show includes a toy train running across the wall of Halifax City Hall and animated images of brightly coloured gifts.

Seven-year-old Kieran McIllwraith was excited. He loved seeing the images of the candy house and Santa Claus flying with his reindeer across the building.

Angus McIllwraith watched the show with his wife and son.

“I think it was spectacular. I have never seen this kind of display before given that it’s not possible to have parades and all the other things we normally do at Christmas,” he said.

caption The illuminated 2-D snowflakes shower was specially interesting for the kids.

Gail Smith, who watched the show with her family, was pleasantly surprised.

“I just expected to come down and see some colours, I didn’t expect all of this, so it was huge, it’s very nice of the city to put on a show like this, especially during these times,” she said.

Some spectators weren’t as enthusiastic. Althea Pilapil hoped for a more upbeat show.

“It’s not what I expected, especially with the music. I think they could have gotten something more joyful than Carol of the Bells. Even though I love that, it made it a little eerie,” said Pilapil.

The Holiday Projection Show is replacing the Holiday Parade of Lights that is normally held every year. The live parade was cancelled due to the second wave of the pandemic.

“This is not going to match up with the parade but it’s better than nothing,” said Betty MacNeil, who came for the Christmas tree lighting.

A menorah will be lit in Grand Parade from Dec. 11 until Dec. 18, but the in-person lighting ceremony has been cancelled.

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Zarnigar Khan

Zarnigar Khan can be reached for story ideas on her Twitter account @ZarnigarKhan5

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