The NAC will trip the light fantastic when it switches on the Kipnes Lantern New Year’s Eve

The rejuvenated National Arts Centre building designed by Toronto architects, Diamond Schmitt.

From time to time passersby have been dazzled when the National Arts Centre has turned on the massive LED screen of the Kipnes Lantern that towers over Elgin Street near the National War Memorial.

Well, starting on New year’s Eve at 8:45 p.m. ET, barring a power failure, ahem … Ottawa Hydro, the light with be lit for good.

Turning on the Lantern with images provided by the innovative Montreal company Moment Factory will be a highlight in a full day of celebration for the end of the 150th of Confederation.

There will be free family activities from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. including holiday crafts, a local jazz band, a dance moves workshop by Luv 2 Groove and lots of hot chocolate.

 The three-storey tall Lantern will be the most visible statement of the $110 million renewal of the NAC when it is finally switched on. The Lantern carries the name of the Kipnes family of Edmonton who donated $5 million to the centre. 

The Lantern features the largest transparent LED screen (from Vancouver-based ClearLED) in North America, the NAC said in a news release.

The Lantern is part of the NAC’s desire to make the centre more transparent and inviting to Canadians, the release added. It will be used to showcase productions presented on NAC stages and on the stages across the country including Vancouver’s Arts Club Theatre, Ballet BC, Edmonton Opera, Winnipeg’s Royal Manitoba Theatre Centre, National Ballet of Canada, Canadian Opera Company, Quebec City’s Théâtre du Trident, and Halifax’s Neptune Theatre.

 “The Kipnes Lantern is a beacon for the performing arts, showcasing the breadth and excellence of the music, theatre and dance being produced across Canada,” NAC CEO Peter Herrndorf said in the media release. “The Lantern represents the National Arts Centre’s Fifth Stage and perfectly symbolizes our slogan, Canada is our Stage.”

The Lantern will also feature soc-called digital “shorts” that are inspired by the performing arts. It will also mark  Canada Day, Remembrance Day and National Indigenous Peoples Day, among other important events. 

Moment Factory played a big part in the Kontinuum experience, the Miwaté sound and light show on the Chaudière Falls, to the Mosaïka spectacle on the Parliament buildings during the Canada 150 year.

In addition, the NAC’s le café restaurant will be open for lunch and dinner and brunch on New Year’s Day. Tickets are also on sale for the Light the Lantern dinner and dance in the NAC Canal Foyer.


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Peter Robb began his connection with the arts community in Ottawa in the mid-1980s when he was the administrator and public relations director of the Great Canadian Theatre Company. After a long career in journalism with the Ottawa Citizen where he served in a number of different posts he returned to the arts when he became the Citizen's arts editor.