Terra Lumina Light Show at Toronto Zoo – A Worth It! Date Night Idea

Terra Lumina Light Show at Toronto Zoo – A Worth It! Date Night Idea

Looking for a short date night activity to do after having dinner around Toronto that isn’t a bar? Consider checking out Terra Lumina, an immersive sound and light show set at the Toronto Zoo.


Here’s what we will be covering in today’s Terra Lumina Post:


Disclaimer: SYDE Road was not sponsored or commissioned to create this post – we bought the service on our own and we’re giving our honest review of our own experience.

About Terra Lumina

Terra Lumina: An Enchanted Night Walk into A Bright Future is an illuminated night walk hosted at the Toronto Zoo. Created by the multimedia studio, Moment Factory, this story-driven 1.5 KM trail is filled with glowing displays, dazzling projections, and immersive soundscapes custom-made for this experience.

Here’s a sneak preview of our Terra Lumina before diving into the post!

Terra Lumina’s Storyline

Toronto Zoo entrance at night promoting the Terra Lumina event

Terra Lumina’s show invites you to step through a portal and imagine what the world would be like in the year 2099 if people and animals learned to live in harmony. The trail takes you through the imagination and potential scenarios of how humans have learned to live in harmony with nature and wildlife.

There are 9 main light displays for you to enjoy on this short trail:

  • Relax by the welcome area to await your turn
  • Pass through the arch passage to see what 2099 is like
  • Follow a glowing pathway through the luminous forest
  • Watch the wolve’s welcome
  • See the polar bear’s power
  • Listen to what the vanished species have to say
  • Play with light at the circle of life
  • Ponder the words of wisdom from a luminous creature
  • Return back to the present via the passage to the present
  • Inspire and spread the seeds of change

Quick Overview of the Event

Here’s a quick summary of what you need to know about Terra Lumina before you consider purchasing your tickets:

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What you need to know about Terra Lumina
When: Every evening after sunset from July 29, 2021 – December 2021 (?)
Address: 2000 Meadowvale Rd., Toronto, Ontario
Hours: 9:00 PM – 11:00 PM (last entry at 10:00 PM) – Varies based on sunset times listed are current fall entry times
Price: $29.99 per adult (13 – 64), booking online adds $1.00 to every paid ticket for a surcharge. (Toronto Zoo members enjoy a $5 discount per ticket)
Parking: $14.00 per vehicle (Free for Toronto Zoo members with Parking Pass)
Dog-Friendly?: No – see service animal restrictions
Stroller-Friendly and Wheelchair Accessible?: Yes
Allow for: 1 – 2 hours
Photography restrictions: No flash
Key Features: Immersive walking light and sound experience themed around animals and harmony. Food and drinks can be purchased once you enter the venue.

Why Terra Lumina is Worth It as a Date Night

Full disclosure – Angelo took me here as a surprise date night visit so I *may* or *may not* be biased on why I think this is a totally worth it date night experience. As you can probably guess from the title, this was a huge hit with me. Yes for a 2-hour stroll, many may consider this to be on the pricey side, however, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience and I think their creative use of lighting and fog makes it worthwhile.

Here are a few reasons why Terra Lumina is a great date night experience:

1. Alcohol-Friendly and Late-Night Snacking Friendly Experience

Smoke's Poutinerie Servicing Woman at the Terra Lumina event at the Toronto Zoo

Once you enter the Toronto Zoo, you can purchase food and drinks at various locations on the walk.

A Smoke’s Poutinerie food truck (that also sells craft beer and other non-alcoholic drinks) and Beaver Tails food truck is situated near the entrance of the event. We were actually pleasantly surprised that this family-friendly light show offered alcohol for the walk and you can bet Angelo purchased a drink before his walk.

2. Couple-friendly shoot locations

Guests lining up at the portal light display at the Terra Lumina event at the Toronto Zoo
Guests line up and wait patiently for their turn to take a photo with the portal light display

Moment Factory, the producers behind Terra Lumina strategically placed quite a few fun couple-friendly shoot locations throughout the entire walk.

A few of the favourite spots during this walk include:

  • the dual-colored arch passage / portal that ‘teleports’ you to 2099
  • on the bridge between the polar power exhibition and the vanished species
  • the long multi-lit passage back to the present

3. Interactive Light Display at the Circle of Life

Interactive Drum Light Display at the Terra Lumina event at the Toronto Zoo
4 sets of drums control the fields of light at the Circle of Life display

If the moody fog machine mechanics and laser light displays haven’t already captured you and your date’s interest, Terra Lumina offers an added layer to its light and sound experience by including an interactive light setup.

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At the Circle of Life display, guests can head to one of the four available drums around the display and beat the drums to the beat of the music.

It doesn’t sound like very much (ah the downfall of less than spectacular descriptive wordsmithing on my part!), but let me tell you, your inner kid is going to have a blast!

Imagine gripping onto one of the two sets of drumming sticks, standing in front of a light-up drum AND a light display that flashes to your drum beats. In that situation, I’d say it’s near impossible to not laugh and just bang around like Bamm-Bamm from the Flintstones!

via GIPHY


Did I hit the drums to the beat of the music that night? Heck no! But I still enjoyed watching all the lights move to my erratic drumming!

What stands out in Terra Lumina compared to other light shows?

Toronto, like many other cities, has seen an increase in light displays and shows in the last couple of years. With various light exhibits, displays, and shows like:

what makes Terra Lumina stand out from the rest?

1. Terra Lumina is offered in the summer

Silhouette of a woman standing in front of a light display with forest as the background. Terra Lumina - the Toronto Zoo
Why yes I’m enjoying the fact that I can linen pants and crop tops.

Most of the light shows and displays that I know of in Toronto tend to start their displays during the fall and winter months to take advantage of the growing nights. HOWEVER, Terra Lumina is offered during the summer, fall, and winter seasons meaning you can actually walk around COMFORTABLY in shorts and t-shirts.

Hooray for not freezing your butt off wearing a cute summer outfit!

2. The light projections make use of the available terrain

Wolve's Welcome Light projection at the Terra Lumina event at the Toronto Zoo

Moment Factory cleverly works with the various terrain offered at the Toronto Zoo. Rather than working against what the Toronto Zoo had, Moment Factory cleverly designed its light displays to work with and enhance the immersive experience.

The designers must have put some serious thought into how the light projections would bend and bounce against natural settings – that’s literally SO IN THEME with the story they’re trying to tell.

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For example, in the Wolve’s Welcome light display, the light projection is set up against varying levels of rocks. It was such a joy to see the animated wolf ‘jump down’ from one rock to the next and race across the platform. I watched it four times because I couldn’t get enough before I finally decided we needed to move on.

I don’t want to give out too many of the details of the light displays but I’m quite confident that many guests will appreciate and love how many of the light displays turned out.

Light display surrounded by fog at the Terra Lumina event at the Toronto Zoo

Then to add the cherry on top.. fog machines were strategically placed and set off to match the music. The entire Terra Lumina transformed to a literal MOOD.

3. Terra Lumina is a carbon neutral event

Keeping in line with Toronto Zoo’s conservation goals, Terra Lumina is a 100% carbon neutral event. Terra Lumina offsets their energy usage by purchasing an equal quantity of renewable energy to put back into the grid from Bullfrog Renewable Power, Canada’s leading green energy power provider.

That’s right, even their power usage is in line with their human + nature in harmony message!

4. The event acknowledges and works with the Indigenous people of Canada

Terra Lumina information sign acknowledge and crediting Indigenous artists and creative collaborators at the Terra Lumina event at the Toronto Zoo

As you walk through the 1.5 KM footpath did you notice that you were maybe bopping along with or marvelling in the animal’s designs? If so, you may also notice that much of the animal designs, storytelling displays, the collaborative drum circle and soundscape are very much reminiscent of the designs and music from various Indigenous people’s cultures.

Terra Lumina and the Toronto Zo developed many of these elements with input from Taylor Tabobondung, a Wasauksing First Nation curator and representative of indigenous communities for various other Toronto Zoo initiatives.

The custom soundscape too was created with musicians and singers from various Canadian tribal groups including:

Terra Lumina Summary

While this was only a short 1.5 KM walk around Toronto Zoo, I can definitely say this was one of my more favourite light shows that I’ve experienced. I think the overall execution of the narrative, the light displays, the use of light projection on varied terrain, and the custom soundscapes were blended together to create the most cohesive light show experience I’ve attended.

Here are some things I thought Moment Factory did extraordinarily well that in turn, makes it such a worthwhile date night idea:

  1. Acknowledgement of land use to the original Indigenous Folks that lived on this land
  2. Incorporation of local Indigenous music into the soundscape
  3. Energy consumption matches story narrative of humans and animals living in harmony – Terra Lumina 100% carbon neutral
  4. Integrating light objects, fog machines and sounds into the natural surroundings provided by Toronto Zoo

Did you visit Terra Lumina? If you did, which light display was your favourite? Mine was a tough pick between the wolves on the cliff and the polar bear dive!

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Maria is the founder of SYDE Road, a blog about adventure and often-times dog-friendly traveling. She loves researching and planning for trips and is the 'project manager' for many of the small group adventures documented on this blog. She believes that while it is always best to go into a trip with a plan, the best planned trips are always the ones that have time built-in to explore and get a bit lost. Her itineraries are detailed with safety hints and tips, but are also peppered with unique travel stories and experiences that are the result of free time, getting lost, or stepping off the main trails. She aims to inspire others and give people the confidence to travel the world and get a bit sidetracked!

9 comments

  1. Julie says:

    Wow – this is fascinating. I’ve really never seen a light show like this. Seems perfect for date night, but I’m sure families would love it, too. Thanks for the tips!

    • Maria says:

      Thanks so much Julie! Families can definitely join in as well – we saw a few families with younger children joining along so it’s certainly not just restricted to date nights

  2. This is so cool – I love it! The wolves were my favorite. Such a great experience. Toronto is one of my favorite cities in the world, and I love remembering why. So many cool things to do here!

  3. Terri says:

    I would love to do this nighttime walk when I visit Toronto in the future. I wish we had this illumination show at our National Zoo in Washington DC.

    • Maria says:

      Thanks Terri! Moment Factory, the team behind Terra Lumina has also done plenty of events outside of Toronto. They have created many similar exhibitions in the States, Singapore, and France! So hopefully they will get around to setting one up in Washington DC (though it seems like they mostly stick to New York for these type of light shows…)

  4. Krista says:

    Oh wow this does look like the perfect date night idea! I’m hoping to head back into Toronto soon so hopefully we can stop by in the evening and see this!

    • Maria says:

      I hope the event is still there the next time you come back! It’s been ongoing since 2019 and I’ve asked their social media team when it will close but I haven’t confirmed if it will only be held for this year or if it will be an ongoing thing yet!

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