Looking for a short date night activity to do after having dinner around Toronto that isn’t a bar? Consider checking out Terra Lumina, an immersive sound and light show set at the Toronto Zoo.
Here’s what we will be covering in today’s Terra Lumina Post:
Disclaimer: SYDE Road was not sponsored or commissioned to create this post – we bought the service on our own and we’re giving our honest review of our own experience.
About Terra Lumina
Terra Lumina: An Enchanted Night Walk into A Bright Future is an illuminated night walk hosted at the Toronto Zoo. Created by the multimedia studio, Moment Factory, this story-driven 1.5 KM trail is filled with glowing displays, dazzling projections, and immersive soundscapes custom-made for this experience.
Here’s a sneak preview of our Terra Lumina before diving into the post!
Terra Lumina’s Storyline
Terra Lumina’s show invites you to step through a portal and imagine what the world would be like in the year 2099 if people and animals learned to live in harmony. The trail takes you through the imagination and potential scenarios of how humans have learned to live in harmony with nature and wildlife.
There are 9 main light displays for you to enjoy on this short trail:
- Relax by the welcome area to await your turn
- Pass through the arch passage to see what 2099 is like
- Follow a glowing pathway through the luminous forest
- Watch the wolve’s welcome
- See the polar bear’s power
- Listen to what the vanished species have to say
- Play with light at the circle of life
- Ponder the words of wisdom from a luminous creature
- Return back to the present via the passage to the present
- Inspire and spread the seeds of change
Quick Overview of the Event
Here’s a quick summary of what you need to know about Terra Lumina before you consider purchasing your tickets:
|What you need to know about Terra Lumina
|When: Every evening after sunset from July 29, 2021 – February 2022 (may be extended depending on current pandemic conditions and interest)
Address: 2000 Meadowvale Rd., Toronto, Ontario
Hours: 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM (last entry at 10:00 PM) – Varies based on sunset times listed are current fall entry times
Price: $29.99 per adult (13 – 64), booking online adds $1.00 to every paid ticket for a surcharge. (Toronto Zoo members enjoy a $5 discount per ticket)
Parking: $14.00 per vehicle (Free for Toronto Zoo members with Parking Pass)
Dog-Friendly?: No – see service animal restrictions
Stroller-Friendly and Wheelchair Accessible?: Yes
Allow for: 1 – 2 hours
Photography restrictions: No flash
Key Features: Immersive walking light and sound experience themed around animals and harmony. Food and drinks can be purchased once you enter the venue.
Why Terra Lumina is Worth It as a Date Night
Full disclosure – Angelo took me here as a surprise date night visit so I *may* or *may not* be biased on why I think this is a totally worth-it date night experience. As you can probably guess from the title, this was a huge hit for me. Yes for a 2-hour stroll, many may consider this to be on the pricey side, however, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I think their creative use of lighting and fog makes it worthwhile.
Here are a few reasons why Terra Lumina is a great date night experience:
1. Alcohol-Friendly and Late-Night-Snacking-Friendly Experience
Once you enter the Toronto Zoo, you can purchase food and drinks at various locations on the walk.
A Smoke’s Poutinerie food truck (that also sells craft beer and other non-alcoholic drinks) and Beaver Tails food truck is situated near the entrance of the event. We were actually pleasantly surprised that this family-friendly light show offered alcohol for the walk and you can bet Angelo purchased a drink before his walk.
2. Couple-friendly shoot locations
Moment Factory, the producers behind Terra Lumina strategically placed quite a few fun couple-friendly shoot locations throughout the entire walk.
A few of my favourite spots during this walk include:
- the dual-coloured arch passage/portal that ‘teleports’ you to 2099
- on the bridge between the polar power exhibition and the vanished species
- the long multi-lit passage back to the present
3. Interactive Light Display at the Circle of Life
If the moody fog machine mechanics and laser light displays haven’t already captured your and your date’s interest, Terra Lumina offers an added layer to its light and sound experience by including an interactive light setup.
At the Circle of Life display, guests can head to one of the four available drums around the display and beat the drums to the beat of the music.
It doesn’t sound like very much (ah the downfall of less-than-spectacular descriptive wordsmithing on my part!), but let me tell you, your inner kid will have a blast!
Imagine gripping onto one of the two sets of drumming sticks, standing in front of a light-up drum AND a light display that flashes to your drum beats. In that situation, I’d say it’s near impossible to not laugh and just bang around like Bamm-Bamm from The Flintstones!
Did I hit the drums to the beat of the music that night? Heck no! But I still enjoyed watching all the lights move to my erratic drumming!
What stands out in Terra Lumina compared to other light shows?
Toronto, like many other cities, has seen an increase in light displays and shows in the last couple of years. With various light exhibits, displays, and shows like:
- Nuit Blanche in Toronto
- Toronto Light Festival at the Distillery District
- Polar Drive at Toronto Pearson Airport
- Glow Toronto at Etobicoke
- Immersive Van Gogh Exhibit in Toronto
what makes Terra Lumina stand out from the rest?
1. Terra Lumina is offered in the summer
Most of the light shows and displays that I know of in Toronto tend to start their displays during the fall and winter months to take advantage of the growing nights. HOWEVER, Terra Lumina is offered during the summer, fall, and winter seasons meaning you can actually walk around COMFORTABLY in shorts and t-shirts.
Hooray for not freezing your butt off wearing a cute summer outfit!
2. The light projections make use of the available terrain
Moment Factory cleverly works with the various terrain offered at the Toronto Zoo. Rather than working against what the Toronto Zoo had, Moment Factory cleverly designed its light displays to work with and enhance the immersive experience.
The designers must have put some serious thought into how the light projections would bend and bounce against natural settings – that’s literally SO IN THEME with the story they’re trying to tell.
For example, in the Wolve’s Welcome light display, the light projection is set up against varying levels of rocks. It was such a joy to see the animated wolf ‘jump down’ from one rock to the next and race across the platform. I watched it four times because I couldn’t get enough before I finally decided we needed to move on.
I don’t want to give out too many of the details of the light displays but I’m quite confident that many guests will appreciate and love how many of the light displays turned out.
Then to add the cherry on top.. fog machines were strategically placed and set off to match the music. The entire Terra Lumina transformed to a literal MOOD.
3. Terra Lumina is a carbon-neutral event
Keeping in line with Toronto Zoo’s conservation goals, Terra Lumina is a 100% carbon-neutral event. Terra Lumina offsets its energy usage by purchasing an equal quantity of renewable energy to put back into the grid from Bullfrog Renewable Power, Canada’s leading green energy power provider.
That’s right, even their power usage is in line with their human + nature in harmony message!
4. The event acknowledges and works with the Indigenous people of Canada
As you walk through the 1.5 KM footpath did you notice that you were maybe bopping along with or marvelling at the animal’s designs? If so, you may also notice that many of the animal designs, storytelling displays, collaborative drum circles and soundscapes are very much reminiscent of the designs and music from various Indigenous people’s cultures.
Terra Lumina and the Toronto Zo developed many of these elements with input from Taylor Tabobondung, a Wasauksing First Nation curator and representative of indigenous communities for various other Toronto Zoo initiatives.
The custom soundscape too was created with musicians and singers from various Canadian tribal groups including:
- Tasheena Sarazin – an Anishinaabeg singer of Algonquins of Pikwàkanagàn First Nation (formerly known as Golden Lake First Nation)
- Eya-Hey Nakoda, featuring musicians from the Nakoda and other Candian Tribal Groups
Terra Lumina Summary
While this was only a short 1.5 KM walk around Toronto Zoo, I can definitely say this was one of my favourite light shows that I’ve experienced. I think the overall execution of the narrative, the light displays, the use of light projection on varied terrain, and the custom soundscapes were blended together to create the most cohesive light show experience I’ve attended.
Here are some things I thought Moment Factory did extraordinarily well that in turn, makes it such a worthwhile date night idea:
- Acknowledgement of land use to the original Indigenous Folks that lived on this land
- Incorporation of local Indigenous music into the soundscape
- Energy consumption matches the story narrative of humans and animals living in harmony – Terra Lumina is 100% carbon neutral
- Integrating light objects, fog machines and sounds into the natural surroundings provided by Toronto Zoo
Did you visit Terra Lumina? If you did, which light display was your favourite? Mine was a tough pick between the wolves on the cliff and the polar bear dive!