City begins holidays with tree and Cavalcade of Lights

By Sean Delaney

The City of Toronto signaled the start of the holiday season on November 12, welcoming its official 16.75-metre (55-foot) Christmas tree to Nathan Phillips Square. Tree decorations and preparations for the 56th annual Cavalcade of Lights presented by Desjardins Financial Group began on Tuesday, November 15. Cavalcade of Lights will kick off on Saturday, November 26 and run until Saturday, January 7.

This year’s naturally grown spruce tree came from Baldwin, Ontario. A crew of up to seven people will install the tree over approximately eight hours. The tree will require three days to settle before it can be decorated with more than 300,000 energy-efficient lights and 500 ornaments. It will remain on display throughout the holiday season and will then be recycled into mulch for tree planting in the spring. The Christmas tree lighting is sponsored by Toronto Hydro-Electric System.

Cavalcade of Lights opening day

Saturday, November 26 is the official opening day of Cavalcade of Lights presented by Desjardins Financial Group. Family-friendly special programming will begin at 3 p.m. and run until 11 p.m. A tree and Square lighting ceremony will take place at 8:30 p.m.

Special opening day programming will include skating presentations, food vendors and live performances including Ice-skating performances by Toronto’s Trinity Synchronized skating team and Olympic gold medalist Canadian figure skater Gabrielle Daleman, Canada’s top a cappella talent Countermeasure Holiday Singers, contemporary African dance music with Asiko Afrobeat Ensemble, traditional Québécois songs mixed with electronic music by Mélisande [Electrotrad] and performances by Indigenous artists: Hoop Dance by Theland Kicknosway and Abenaki and Franco-Ontarian folk music by Mimi O’Bonsawin.

Lunar Lanterns of Indigenous Lights, in partnership with Lunarfest GTA, connecting Asian traditions and Indigenous cultures as well as The ECHO – an interactive installation that will allow participants to explore the power hidden behind their voices produced by Desjardins will also be on for revelers to enjoy.

Following opening day, Cavalcade of Lights presented by Desjardins Financial Group will run until January 7, showcasing twinkling light displays and festive décor alongside public skating on the Square. This year, the event takes inspiration from light festivals and cultural celebrations around the world and features elements from a variety of holiday traditions associated with light, lantern and fire for new lighting installations.

The City is thankful for the generous support of presenting sponsor Desjardins Financial Group, Christmas tree lighting sponsor Toronto Hydro-Electric System and hotel sponsor Sheraton Centre Toronto Hotel, as well as media partners CHUM 104.5, 99.9 Virgin Radio and the Toronto Star.

Residents and visitors can also experience the Holiday Fair in the Square from Friday, December 2 to Friday, December 23. The Holiday Fair will include an artisan marketplace, a North Pole activation and a holiday midway complete with rides and games. More details are available at Opens in new window.

“The arrival of the City’s official Christmas tree on Nathan Phillips Square has always been a milestone event signaling the start of the holiday season. I hope Torontonians will enjoy the celebrations on Nathan Phillips Square throughout December and into the New Year,” said Toronto Mayor John Tory.