Thursday, December 16, 2010

Holiday: Trail of Lights 2010

The entrance to the Downsview Park Trail of Lights was viewed on 15-December-2010

TORONTO, ONTARIO - Considering that the holiday season occurs around the shortest days of the year, it is not surprising that outdoor lighted displays have become popular just about everywhere in North America. Amongst these, Downsview Park's Trail of Lights here in Toronto seems to be rather struggling to find a defining identity.

Snowflake arches were found along the Trail of Lights at Downsview Park in Toronto, Ontario on 15-December-2010

When I last visited in 2008, the Federal facility had created its light display for pedestrians, and the two-kilometer walk seemed stuffed full of displays. However, two kilometers was apparently felt to be too long of a walk for the average person, and the trail was instead opened to vehicles in 2009. This year, it went to a hybrid format, with driving days on Thursday through Sunday and "Walk-Through Wednesdays" for pedestrians.

A flower bloomed after watering along the Trail of Lights in Toronto, Ontario on 15-December-2010

With the majority of nights devoted to the automobile, the layout of the trail was clearly car-oriented, with distances that felt quite long between the displays. It seemed far more like a winter hike through the snow that happened to have some lights along the way than a holiday light display. I happened to choose a particularly cold night to visit yesterday, with the wind chill reported as -15 C while I made the circuit, and that made it less than pleasant.

A squirrel jumped between trees on either side of the Trail of Lights in Toronto, Ontario on 15-December-2010

Many of the displays have motion involved, whether deer or squirrels jumping across the trail, a Jack-in-the-Box springing up, a bucket coming up from the bottom of a well, or a volcano erupting. Some of the best scenes were sports scenes, with a baseball pitcher striking out a batter, a football place kicker scoring points, and a soccer player scoring a goal. I was disappointed, though, that the displays were almost all the same as two years before, so there were no pleasant surprises to be found along the trail.

A long exposure captured all the positions of the football player kicking a goal at the Trail of Lights in Toronto, Ontario on 15-December-2010

The price also seems quite steep--$8 to walk through as an adult pedestrian, and $25 per carload. At least as a pedestrian, it takes more than a half hour to walk the route, without stopping for pictures or admiration. In a car, it would take far less than that. Considering all the free displays and events in the Toronto area, it's not surprising that there was quite light patronage during my visit.

Santa and his reindeer were found along the Trail of Lights in Toronto, Ontario on 15-December-2010

The Trail of Lights remains open (except Mondays and Tuesdays) through 2-January-2011 from 6-11 pm. The entrance is not far from Keele Street in Downsview Park, so those taking the TTC can use the Keele bus, Shephard West bus, or the Downsview Park bus. For more information, see the official web site.

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