Northern Lights virtual sound and light show

Since its debut in 2015, Northern Lights has been a huge success on Parliament Hill in Ottawa. More than one million spectators have enjoyed the experience!

The sound and light show has been transformed into a virtual format this summer and promises an equally magical experience as the iconic Centre Block and Peace Tower are recreated on screen. This is a unique opportunity to join loved ones for a personalized viewing session!

About the show

Northern Lights is a thrilling thematic journey through Canada's history. Combining bold digital technology with the architectural splendour of the Canadian Parliament, the show illuminates Canadian stories of nation building, partnership, discovery, valour, pride and vision at the heart of our country.

Key figures, events and achievements from Canadian history are brought to life using 5 distinct artistic styles. All are presented in spectacular detail, with stirring narration and an original score, against the backdrop of the Centre Block and Peace Tower.

Learn more about the show

The narrative unfolds through 5 thematic "books":

Book 1: Foundations of the Nation

A fluid ink-in-water style is used to paint stories of how people from all over the world have expanded our foundations. From traditional Indigenous ways of life and early European settlements to modern citizenship ceremonies, these stories are linked by our desire to call Canada "home".

Book 2: Strength in Partnership

Partnership and determination have made Canada strong. Using an illustration style inspired by classical paintings, this book explores alliances that have shaped our country.

Book 3: Discovery and Adventure

A lithographic style takes us on a voyage showcasing the achievements of explorers, scientists and innovators whose quests into the unknown continue to inspire us to follow our dreams.

Book 4: Valour

This powerful book combines dramatic performances with archival materials and charcoal drawings to honour the men and women who have served their country, both at home and abroad, in military conflicts since the First World War.

Book 5: Pride and Vision

Inspired by the stained glass windows of the Memorial Chamber in the Peace Tower, this intensely colourful book celebrates the natural grandeur of our country and the diversity of her people.

The technology

What kind of technology is used to virtually recreate the Centre Block and Peace Tower as well as virtually project the show?

The virtual sound and light show, Northern Lights, combines video and effects from a number of different sources. The video is a montage of:

  • excerpts from the 2015 show recorded on Parliament Hill for certain wide-angle shots of the Hill, as well as excerpts from the 2018 recording of the show for the tighter shots (all at a resolution of 1920 x 1080 pixels)
  • a motion design of the entire show mapped onto a model of Parliament that simulates the 3D effect of the live projection on the Centre Block
  • a sky background added to provide realism and depth to the simulation
  • simulated lighting effects programmed in studio to add lighting effects to the motion design sections
  • a mix of recorded footage and motion design to, among other things, add a flag flapping in the wind to the top of the Peace Tower
  • a stereo remix of the entire show

Acknowledgements

Artistic team

Canadian Heritage worked with TKNL of Montréal to create Northern Lights. Founded more than 35 years ago, TKNL, Experience Makers is one of the largest experiential production and corporate events firms in Quebec. TKNL has operated in the field of immersive shows and interactive museum exhibits for over 20 years. The company has produced an impressive array of immersive events, museum exhibits, interactive tools and multimedia communication tools, many of which have garnered industry awards.

General acknowledgements

Canadian Heritage would like to thank the following individuals and organizations for their contributions to Northern Lights:

  • Dr. Jonathan Vance
  • Jean-Pierre Morin
  • Warrant Officer (Retired) Philip Palmer, CD
  • Colonel Jennie Carignan
  • The families of Private Frank Lind, Private William Henry Bell, Nursing Sister Alice Isaacson, Private Charlie Ross Francis, Lance Corporal Hermel Pelletier, Able Seaman Earl Gray, and Private Jacques Raymond
  • The Métis National Council
  • The Manitoba Metis Federation
  • Norman Fleury
  • Erin Gregory

Exclusive sponsor

Manulife exclusive sponsor of Sound and Light show.
Symbol of the Government of Canada
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