Preview by Austin Nitsche
Wondering what one million decorative, string LED lights look like? The Enjoy Centre (located on the south side of St. Albert’s Riel Drive) will, from November 21 to January 5, host the Enjoy Light Festival (ELF), with a total light count of over a million lights.
Running from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. daily, those who yearn for the warm, cozy, Christmas feeling in lieu of the bitter cold that accompanies outdoor light displays will be pleased to know that the entirety of the displays at ELF will be indoors, allowing attendees to admire the lights without having to endure the weather. Arctic Circle, easily identified by the large tents styled to look like igloos, houses electric fire pits to help shake any chill that may have stubbornly clung to guests on their journey inside.
ELF’s incredible light displays are bound to fill the little ones with wonderment and awe, but in the event they get bored, there is no shortage of opportunities to keep them busy. A trip to Santa’s Workshop provides a number of toys for children to interact with while they wait for their turn with Santa. Little’s Land offers a selection of three different bouncy castles, a craft section, bouncy reindeer, and a play area for children to wear off any excess energy–with ample room to run around. Children can take turns on the illuminated swings and ride the see-saws in Aurora Park.
It is important to stress that while the ELF has a number of themed areas geared towards children, the festival is a place where people of all ages can enjoy themselves. One such area is Whimsy Way: a large illuminated tunnel, comprised of hundreds of thousands of lights–making for a bright and colorful experience that guests of any age do not want to miss.
Other destinations within the festival include Candyland, where you will find giant, light-up candy canes, ballerinas, and unicorns; the Enchanted Forest, filled with bright tree displays and the presence of glowing woodland critters; the Elf Main Stage, an area that features a variety of local acts and performers, and which changes every week; and the Snowflake Exchange, a gift shop where ELF attendees can shop for souvenirs and take advantage of the gift-wrapping service to ensure that items bought as gifts remain a surprise.
A wide variety of food is available for guests to purchase, with vendors including Edmonton-based businesses such as Zaika Indian Bistro, Elephant Ears, Hong Kong Bakery, and Glasshouse Bistro & Café and Confections Cake Co. based in St. Albert. Available beverages include seasonal-inspired drinks, coffee, hot chocolate, and sparkling juices; alcoholic beverages will also be on sale.
Parking at the Enjoy Centre is accessible to guests free of charge, with stalls for 375 vehicles. An additional 2,000 stalls at Averton Homes’ Midtown development, located across the street from the Enjoy Centre, has been donated for the duration of the festival – the development just broke ground on the project back in September.
General admission is $20.95 for those age 14-64 and $10.45 for children between ages 4-13 and seniors of 65 years or older. Admission to the event is free for children 3 years old and under. Prices include GST.
Tickets are limited, with event organizers offering three different times for admission (4:00 p.m. to 6:00 p.m., 6:00 p.m. to 8:00 p.m., 8:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m.)–expecting that festival goers spend approximately two hours at the event, but they are certainly able to stay longer, as there is a lot to see.