Lumière Festival 2023

Halloween is done and winter lights have started coming out, which means the city can expect Lumière to return for another year, and 2023 will be its 10th anniversary.

“Lumière is a free, accessible and uplifting festival that brings people and communities together through light and art.” (As taken from the press release)

And today we were at the Vancouver Art Gallery, North Plaza to celebrate its opening and the start of their five-day festival program.

From November 2nd to 6th, 2023 the Lumière Festival is set to illuminate downtown Vancouver with several outposts through Gastown, Yaletown, and the West End. The program features “more than 30 light-based artworks and projections created by a diverse, multi-disciplinary collective of local and international artists”. There will also be nightly shows and dynamic performances across more than 10 outdoor locations from 5-9:30pm; with a free shuttle that makes it all more accessible, stopping at 5 of those locations. The shuttle will be running Thursday, Friday, and Saturday.

Tonight we would drive by a few and experience some, starting with the open air spectacle of the grand opening

Carnival Band warmed the crowd with lively jaunts. Wolf Pack followed with land acknowledgments and a traditional dance performance.

There was an opera singer who sang her soul out at the steps of the art gallery before climbing on to a giant tricycle.

Elektric Collective were acrobatics in light trimmed suits. Their show included gymnastic feats of strength and flexibility and rhythmic dancing with light up hula hoops, batons, and fans that created optical illusions as they spun. This was favourite show of the night and simply mesmerizing.

Ember Arts were a group of fire throwers who spun and twirled flames in a series of tools from a barbell to balls on chains.

And the last show we caught before boarding our tour bus was one with stilt walkers dressed in light up panel armour, accompanied by a LED caped unicorn wearing a giant sequinned jump suit with matching metallic head piece.

The following are the displays we actually visited, with descriptions taken from the press release of what to expect at each one. Plus my photos and colourful commentary to compliment. Full festival programming can be found at

At the Gastown Gateway on Water and Cordova Street is the Wishing Tree installation. This is the centerpiece of the BC Parks Foundation “Wish for Nature” campaign. “Drawing on the global tradition of offering hopes and wishes to a tree, it was their aim to create a cross-cultural, artful experience that fosters a deeper connection with nature. Visitors have the opportunity to make healing wishes for nature, the world, and each other, contributing to the creation of new parks and protected areas in BC. The goal is to build an interactive experience with light, sound and colour to create a sense of awe and wonder.”

We stopped at Yaletown to take in two locations within walking distance of one another.

At Bill Curtis Square, 1198 Mainland Street “Velvet Light” invites visitors to a world where nature meets the fantastical in a symphony of sensory delight. As you approach this captivating landscape, you become active participants in a dynamic dance of light and sound, shaping your unique narrative through their presence and movements within the immersive environment.”

And “Effervescent Dreams” is “three walls adorned with an arrangement of lenses and softly glowing lights. Viewer’s perceptions shifts, allowing their minds to wander through a dreamscape of colors and shapes. The lenses refract and distort the surrounding world, creating a surreal and ethereal atmosphere where reality and imagination seamlessly blend. This installation invites people to embrace the fluidity of their thoughts, fostering a sense of wonder and curiosity as they navigate a realm where dreams and reality converge.”

Next we walked a block down to Helmcken Plaza where the theme is “Seascape” and the scene includes an archway entry of light up crab claws called the “Ethereal Gates”.

Past that is the Submerged Sanctuary, “a space to sit and ponder the beauty of the ocean through repurposed and manipulated textile waste. It features several inflatable sculptures made from old kitesurfing kites with a myriad of coral decor made from upcycled objects arranged to provide a cozy cove. It is a space full of color, texture and shapes to explore. Viewers are encouraged to enter this nautical lounge and experience the fluidity of ocean life through ambient lighting and tactile textile exploration.”

The “Jellyfish Forest” was my favourite, “an immersive volumetric light sculpture featuring 12 jellyfish with 84 touch-responsive tentacles. 13,500 LEDs are used to completely encapsulate the audience in a living ocean of colour and light”.

And “Waves in a Shell” is “inspired by the organic form of a seashell. The ‘Shell’ features a surface adorned with undulating light tubes that capture the natural beauty of rolling ocean waves. By engaging with brass capacitive touch sensors on a smaller scale model, viewers can manipulate the LED lighting, offering a mesmerizing interactive experience”.

And our night wrapped up at Morton Park located at 1800 Davie Plaza with “The Tunnel”, a “series of strange, 12 feet tall cosmic structures create a tunnel of magical light and sound”. The idea is that imaginative adventures start with a door, or portal, or a gate. Passing through these structures indicates the start of a journey beyond the known world into something transformative.”

Before our ride back to the Art Gallery Plaza we grabbed some bites and drinks at Hook Restaurant, across from English Bay.

Here we enjoyed their Lumière Spritz a sparkling cocktail with edible glitter, Northern Keep Vodka, Blue Curacao, lemon juice, yuzu syrup, and Frind Brut inspired the week’s events.

And canapé versions of their crab cakes, lobster rolls, and fried chicken sliders.

Overall a wonderful evening and a great free activity to do in the city, while supporting the arts.

For more information on the Lumière Festival, please visit

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Scroll to Top