Yesterday, thousands packed Toronto's Nathan Phillips Square for the lighting ceremony of the official Christmas tree. The one-hour celebration included several performances and was concluded by a spectacular fireworks display.
Toronto has a decade-long tradition of keeping a Christmas tree on Nathan Phillips Square, the square in front of New City Hall. The tree lighting ceremony is the official start of the Christmas season in the city.
The tree is typically around 17 metres high, but due to the ongoing renovation of Nathan Phillips Square, it is comparatively tiny at about half its usual height, around 9 metres. Torontonians like to party, and the smaller tree has not damped the spirits.
The lighting ceremony, which started at 7 p.m., lured thousands of people to Nathan Phillips Square. The publicly-accessible parts of Nathan Phillips Square were packed, and so were the elevated walkways around the square, as well as the skating rink.
Once the lights of the tree had been switched on, there were performances by Wade O. Brown, Divine Brown, Shawn Desman and Sarah Slean. There was also an acrobatic act by Haut-Vol.
The celebration concluded with a ten-minute fireworks display. There seemed to be some issues, which delayed the start for a few minutes, but once it got under way, it was clearly enjoyed by the thousands of people on, above and around Nathan Phillips Square.
After the fireworks display, people could continue to skate on the jam-packed skating rink, while Disc Jockey Tony Sutherland was keeping busy with the sound system.
During the ceremony, I was at the west corner of the south elevated walkway. This is so far away from the stage that it was not possible to see anything meaningful. The giant video screens behind and above the stage were more visible, but the image was still too small to really see what was going on. To make things worse, much was hidden by the construction surrounding the stage.
As can be seen in the HD video, this was not so much of a problem for the fireworks display, since that was done from City Hall's front roof garden.