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Spectacular Borealis Lights drive-thru is back

The high wattage holiday display is a way to enjoy the simple pleasure of Christmas lights
Borealis Lights, currently showcasing it's bright lights at Kinsmen RV Campground until Jan. 7, 2024, is a holiday treat for the family. SUPPLIED

In past years, after sunset, Riel Drive’s industrial park would take on a gloomy character during winter’s dark months. Businesses closed, parking lots emptied, and lights dimmed. That changed in 2022 when Borealis Lights set up shop at the Kinsmen RV Park. 

Once shadowy and sombre, the RV park morphed into a dazzling light display that brought to life the magic of Christmas’ innocent joy. About 15,500 vehicles checked out the drive-thru, and this year Borealis Lights is back brighter than ever. 

Even though many of us are wrestling with increased energy prices, the display's 900,000 twinkling LED lights are defying expectations and illuminating our lives with holiday cheer. 

“We hoped for higher numbers, but we didn’t do a lot of advertising. This year we hope to get more people out,” said Scott Machej, owner of CLG Displays.  

Despite the lower numbers, CLG returned for a second time with more synchronized animated and static displays. 

“We came back because we had a good experience. All the stakeholders, the mayor, the Kinsmen and all the feedback we received was very good. People who drove through gave us positive responses and good feedback,” Machej said. 

Although the square footage of the park remains the same, organizers have packed more exhibits in the area. To maintain a light, breezy shooting star vibe, the light displays follow familiar Christmas and fairy tale themes such as Aladdin, Shrek and Jack and the Beanstalk. 

“We have some new displays, more presents, more ornaments and more trees lit up. The fencing around the park is also lit up. A lot of our focus is on the younger eyes. At the end of the day, that’s our market. There’s nostalgia and kids of all ages enjoy it. And it’s a great opportunity for families to enjoy a celebration together.” 

Sara Hunter, an Edmonton resident, agrees. She was temporarily parked in Rotary Park parking lot while her daughter Blayke, 14, a player in the Alberta Youth Soccer League attended a practice.  

“I really like it. It’s more accessible than some of Edmonton’s attractions with long lineups. We didn’t have the opportunity last year, but this year I’m definitely bringing my daughter,” said Hunter. 

Instead, Axel Maril from Spruce Grove completed the drive-thru with a group of family and friends and offered a couple of suggestions. 

“It’s cool and all, but the missing part is the snow. The snow makes it more Christmasy. And I’d add more arches and tunnels. They’re cool to drive through.” 

One of the major changes from 2022 is the ticketing system. Last year, vehicles were required to purchase tickets for a specific day. This year a ticket purchase can be used any day. 

“Some of our feedback last year was that post-COVID, families were back doing karate, dance or what have you. People were leading busy lives and were finding it difficult to plan a specific night in advance. This more flexible system gives them the opportunity to go when they want.” 

Machej also encourages visitors to bring a non-perishable donation for the St. Albert Food Bank. Last year Borealis Lights collected 2,000 pounds of food. In addition, a portion of every ticket is donated to the Kinettes Christmas Hamper campaign. 

Borealis Lights is open every evening until Jan. 7, 2024 including Christmas and New Year’s Day. Tickets are priced from $27 to $32 for a standard vehicle and $40 to $45 for a limo or 16-passenger vehicle. A $5 surcharge is applied to gate prices. Hours and tickets are available online at 

Anna Borowiecki

About the Author: Anna Borowiecki

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