Winter in Canada is the time when people prefer to stay indoors and lay in bed rather than withstand the chilly winds and somber weather outside. The annual Toronto Light Festival has encouraged and challenged people to do otherwise.

From January 18 to March 3, the Light Festival draws in hundreds of thousands of visitors to view local and international light artworks at the Historic Distillery District in Toronto. This year, 35 light artworks lit up the cobblestone alleyways of the Distillery District, for its third running year. The enchanting vibrant hues and fluorescent light sculptures prompt swarms of people to gaze and take pictures of all the intricate art pieces.

With friends, family, and loved ones, the Light Festival brings together everybody to capture precious moments with entertaining and captivating artwork. At the Distillery District, there’s more to offer than just scenic imagery; walking along the collection of artworks, you’re exposed to the famous El Catrin Mexican restaurant and café’s serving spiked apple cider and hot chocolate. In addition, when the cold air hits, there’s several massive fire pits across the district to warm up with. It’s an entire experience on its own. For a moment, you forget you’re standing in negative degree weather with the visuals and sounds of laughter.

This year’s Light festival is bigger and better than last year’s, with many new art pieces added to the festival. You’ll encounter a fluorescent rainbow coloured arch, a light display of a floating woman’s face, and a disco ball dispersing 20 different lights on the canvas of old brick buildings. This only accounts for a small fraction of the light artwork visible.

With the growing popularity of the Light Festival, companies have used the opportunity to display artwork for advertisements of products. For example, Michael Buble’s kinetic heart to promote his album or the oval orange and yellow walkthrough to promote Reese’s cups. This form of marketing wasn’t readily seen in previous years where art was solely showcased by artists specializing in light work displays. In addition to the new, The Light Festival also brought back a few popular showcases, including the lock love wall where visitors write the name of their loved ones on a lock and attach it to the wall spelling out L-O-V-E. In addition, the timeless yellow stringed light alley, setting a romantic atmosphere, brings people to capture selfies.

Every piece of light artwork sets a distinct ambiance from the other. From soft golden hues to eccentric shades, visitors get feelings of tranquility and peace or fascination and excitement depending on which artwork they stumble upon.

An art piece that towers over when you enter the festival is a 32-foot polar bear, with an ocean full of sea creatures projected on its entire frame. The artist behind the exquisite work, Don Kennel, used car parts to build the sculpture. He communicates how automobiles contribute to the negative effects on ecological ecosystems. You’ll notice every artist adds their own touch and expression through their light art with a description written beside every piece. All the light displays ignite a spark of curiosity and wonder and a sense of adventure during the cold days ahead.

The Light Festival serves what it’s meant for. It gets people to come out from the winter blues and immerse themselves within an atmosphere of lights and entertainment, from music to a cascade of lights. The festival brings people out of the warmth of their home to the warmth sparked by social gatherings, enchanting light artwork, and enjoying a cup of hot chocolate outdoors.