Montreal’s luminous art walk lights up the city and the spirits in the winter darkness


This year’s version of the Montreal outdoor art exhibit takes winter wonderland walking to a whole new level.

Arranged in the city’s entertainment districts at the beginning of December, a series of colorful and interactive installations make up the 12th edition of Luminothérapie, a luminous artistic walk that invites visitors of all ages to get out and play.

“Children, adults, everyone is having a lot of fun and you also have music in the experience, so it’s kind of a family activity,” said Catherine Girard Lantagne, director of programming and production. of the Quartier des spectacles Partnership.

Catherine Girard Lantagne, director of programming and production for the Quartier des spectacles Partnership, says Montrealers from all over the island come to visit the annual exhibition. (Dave St-Amant / CBC News)

This year, spectators are invited to engage with five interactive and contemplative works, including Impulse, one of the most iconic creations, marking its third year in the exhibition, said Girard Lantagne. The installation is made up of large, illuminated swings that glow and vary in tone and intensity as you move them up and down.

Between the ranks, made up of thousands of bright, flexible stems designed to evoke a field of wheat swaying in the wind, secured a place in the exhibit for the second year in a row.

Iceberg is a tunnel of illuminated metal arches that each emit a particular sound to mimic water droplets when the ice melts; and Nova projects a video inspired by the movement of water linked to Montreal‘s rivers on surrounding buildings.

This setup is made up of large illuminated swings that glow and vary in tone and intensity as you move them up and down. (Dave St-Amant / CBC)

Girard Lantagne says that every year people come from all over Montreal to see the facilities.

“Now we realize that people want more and more, so the business is starting to change,” she said.

Arguably the most imposing and popular interactive structure of this year is a luminous 4.5-ton, 17-meter-tall steel whale, which attenuates its light and sound if onlookers get too close in order to represent the harmful impact of humans invading nature.

Erected on the Place des Festivals, Echoes: A voice from unknown waters won the coveted place for this year’s major installation as part of the annual multidisciplinary public art competition organized by the Quartier des spectacles.

Echoes: A Voice From Uncharted Waters invites viewers to get up close – but not too close – to a giant steel whale. (Vivien Gaumand / Quartier des Spectacles)

Finally, with Dancing heart, the Quartier des Spectacles becomes a dance floor for five minutes every evening at 7 p.m. and 8 p.m.

“You can’t stay and not dance with this moment,” Girard Lantagne joked, “so it’s an element to bring joy to winter and darkness.”

Providing light therapy – the English meaning of light therapy – is the idea behind the eponymous annual exhibition, she explained.

This year’s Light Therapy facilities are open from December 2, 2021 to February 27, 2022, free of charge.

Exposure is a real form of therapy, says expert

Last year, the darkness of the pandemic increased the event’s popularity “more than ever,” according to Girard Lantagne, as Montrealers yearned for much-needed holiday cheer.

And as the winter season brings shorter days and longer nights, a doctor says the event may in fact live up to its name.

“I would say that the [art exhibition] is really therapeutic on many levels, ”said Dr. Robert Levitan, head of depression research at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto.

Dr Robert Levitan, a psychiatrist at the Center for Addiction and Mental Health (CAMH) in Toronto, recommends light therapy to fight SAD. (Manmeet Ahluwalia / CBC)

For years, Dr. Levitan has recommended light therapy to fight Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD), which involves exposure to artificial UV-filtered light for about 30 minutes each morning.

SAD is a seasonal depression that affects three to five percent of the Canadian population – disproportionately women – during the darker winter months.

While the art exhibit is meant to be explored at night and no controlled studies have been conducted to show its effects on mental health, Dr Levitan said it could offer multiple benefits.

“It is possible that the light itself is sufficient, I suppose, to have a biological effect … but it also becomes [people] outside of their home, so there is a behavioral activation component. “

Behavioral Activation Therapy can help people with depression by using activities such as going outside, breathing fresh air, and interacting with people. New experiences, something many of us have lost throughout the pandemic, explained Dr Levitan, are also releasing certain mood-enhancing chemicals in our brains.

“Good art is very new and very exciting,” he said.


The 12th edition of Luminothérapie at the Quartier des spectacles began on December 2, 2021 and ends on February 27, 2022. It takes place from noon to 10 pm Monday to Thursday and from noon to 11 pm Friday to Sunday. Visiting the facilities is free.


Comments are closed.