$500,000 downtown Lights of Wonder display will open late

The opening of the Downtown Victoria Business Association’s $500,000 Christmas light extravaganza at Centennial Square will be delayed to allow the team putting the display together to deal with technical problems.

“The installation team is just looking at the complexity of this and taking some extra days,” said Jeff Bray, executive director of the DVBA.

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The DVBA’s Lights of Wonder, a massive light-driven installation featuring trees made of light, glowing replicas of buildings and icons reflecting the region, from orcas and the legislature buildings to a beaming replica of the Gate of Harmonious Interest, was scheduled to open Friday, Dec. 13.

Bray said the sheer size of the event — with installations from Douglas to Government streets, recorded and live music and refreshments — is part of the problem.

“Nothing this size has been done in Centennial Square,” he said. “We are breaking new ground determining how to put something this big up in Centennial Square.”

While organizers are disappointed by the delay, they felt it was important to get it right, given that the installation will be used for several years, Bray said.

The DVBA is looking at options including extending the run of the event beyond its original closing date of Jan. 4.

The display was designed by North Vancouver’s Shine Lighting Group, which specializes in custom lighting installations in public spaces.

The company made its name with Enchant Christmas, which features a massive lit maze staged inside major league baseball stadiums across the U.S.

The $500,000 cost of Victoria’s installation is to be paid over five years. The money comes from the DVBA’s annual budget, which is funded by a levy collected from downtown property owners by the city.

Bray said the amount is roughly the same as the organization spent on staging previous years’ Christmas events, which have included a skating rink and Ferris wheel in Centennial Square, but in this case, they keep the installation and can reuse it each year.

It also allows the DVBA to improve the setup and incorporate new ideas once they’ve seen how it is received.

aduffy@timescolonist.com

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