Saturday, July 20, 2024

Blockhouse Island to transform into ‘River of Lights’ for beloved Brockville tradition

River of Lights will take place in Brockville Nov. 25 to Jan. 2. – City of Brockville photo

The beloved River of Lights show will be returning to the Brockville harbourfront on Saturday Nov. 25 to brightly welcome in the holiday season. Brockville residents and tourists alike are invited to join the City of Brockville in kicking off this free sound and light show on Blockhouse Island. 

The annual Brockville Santa Claus parade will take place on King Street from 5:30 – 7 p.m. During or following the parade, participants and locals are encouraged to walk over to Blockhouse Island to take in the first 2023 showing of the River Of Lights at 6 p.m. The landscape is illuminated with thousands of twinkly lights and flood lights, all flickering in sync with the corresponding music. 

The River of Lights show is presented by Canaarm and will be running nightly from Nov. 25 to Jan. 2. The full light and sound show will begin at 6 p.m. and run until 10 p.m. every night, unless otherwise stated. Another version of the show with just lights and no sound will be bookending the regular show between 5 and 6 p.m. and again from 10 to 11 p.m.

Kendra Lorimer, economic development coordinator with the City of Brockville, spoke with Brockvilleist and advised that “this first hour, along with our final hour of 10-11 p.m., are better suited to anyone who finds the flashing lights – or the combination of lights and music – overstimulating, or anyone who wants a calmer light show experience.”

The event has become a staple for the Brockville community and is both free and family friendly. When asked about the history of the “River of Lights,” Lorimer explained that “there was a ‘Tree of Lights’ display in 2018, which grew into the River of Lights in 2019 and led by the Brockville & District Chamber of Commerce who really got the ball rolling on the event. 2019’s event was an early version of what you will see today.

“Since then, the city’s team at the Brockville Arts Centre have taken the lead on the programming and design of the show, which has included adding new lighting features and new music to the playlist, which are selected from comments and suggestions from event attendees who complete our event feedback survey,” Lormier continued.

Blockhouse Island’s one-way traffic setup offers the perfect location for visitors to take in the lights and sounds from the comfort of their own vehicles. While people can absolutely park their car on Blockhouse to enjoy the show, Kendra Lorimer explained “we do recommend that opening night people plan to keep moving in the ‘slow-parade’ as the show opens following the Santa Claus parade and a lot of people want to catch their first glimpse of the show that night to get into the holiday spirit. There is the most car traffic on that first night, so you may not be able to get a parking spot.” 

The River of Lights show is approximately 40 minutes in length and then repeats itself. The radio playlist will feature a mixture of contemporary hits and popular holiday classics that the whole family can sing along to in the car. Kendra Lorimer confirmed with Brockvilleist that “based on audio testing on site, this year it looks like we will be tuning to 94.3FM, but we will have signage on site indicating the correct frequency. It’s limited range, so you won’t be able to pick up the music until you are inside the visual range of the show.” The City of Brockville confirmed on their website that public washrooms on Blockhouse Island will be open daily until 9 p.m. inside the harbour building. 

The City of Brockville warns of possible traffic implications on Nov. 25 due to the parade, stating “street closures will effect nearby streets and will inhibit access by vehicle to Blockhouse Island during the parade.”

In case of technical or weather issues impeding the show, Lorimer stated “if there are any issues with the site (like the extreme freezing rain and snow we had last Christmas which forced us to shut down the whole peninsula due to safety concerns) we would post the updates on our website and on the city’s facebook page”

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