Huge festival of lights ‘on the verge of collapsing’ in Mississauga, Ontario


Published January 10, 2024 at 6:39 pm

Mississauga’s popular festival of lights, which has attracted more than 400,000 visitors since arriving in the city in late 2022, is in danger of shutting down permanently unless it receives an immediate infusion of money.

Mississauga Ward 5 Coun. Carolyn Parrish, in whose ward the illumi–A Dazzling World of Lights show is located, told fellow councillors and City of Mississauga senior staff at Wednesday’s meeting of general committee that the Montreal-based group behind the huge seasonal attraction is “on the very edge of packing up for good.”

“Illumi is on the verge of collapsing and the managers of illumi have tried to contact our manager of tourism (to ask for funding),” but haven’t received a response, Parrish said, adding the company is “crying for help” so it can bring the attraction back for a spring/summer session as it did last year.

Illumi’s second holiday season run on its large north Mississauga site near Hurontario Street and Highway 407 just concluded this past Sunday.

Parrish said company officials who spoke to her said they’ve also asked the provincial government for funding, but have not heard back.

“It would be really sad, as they’re just hitting their stride, for them to have to shut down,” the councillor told the general committee meeting.

Parrish noted the illumi lights festival, which features more than 20 million LED lights and welcomes people of all ages to embark nearly year-round on adventures in a series of “universes” offering various themes, did very well attendance-wise during its most recent holiday run.

Ward 5 Coun. Carolyn Parrish, shown here at the Jan. 10 general committee meeting, is urging Mississauga officials to find funding to keep the illumi festival of lights in the city.

She said some 70,000 people went through the gates in December and of that number, about 50,000 were from outside Mississauga — showing the attraction to be a big tourist draw.

“But they’re on the very edge of packing up for good. It took them a year-and-a-half to get established; a small infusion of money from (Tourism Mississauga) or some other source such as Tourism Ontario would probably keep them going because they’ve built a brand now and they are becoming an attraction for a lot of people outside of our city,” Parrish said.

Parrish asked senior staff to help quickly address the funding matter with illumi in efforts to keep the popular attraction in the city.

Mississauga officials are also in the midst of preparing provincial and federal pre-budget submissions in hopes of getting as much money as possible from those levels of government for a wide range of key projects and initiatives across the city.

Included in the provincial government submission is a city request for funding to support tourism and culture, which would potentially include cash for initiatives such as illumi.

Meanwhile, illumi’s Laval, Quebec location closed permanently this past Sunday, having reached the end of a run that began in 2019.

An illumi spokesperson said last year that the company was working closely with the City of Mississauga to keep the attraction in town “potentially until 2026-27.”

Scheduled to come to Mississauga on several occasions since late 2021, the illumi festival of lights finally opened in the city on Sept. 14, 2022.