/Get Inspired/Arts & Culture

A Dynamic Light Show Animates Toronto’s Waterfront

Produced in collaboration with Fjord Studio, Nordic Lights makes a case for public art all year round.

By Sydney Shilling

With restrictions lifting across the city — along with galleries reopening — it’s safe to say that Toronto’s art scene is overdue for a revival. But for the COVID-cautious, there’s still plenty to take in — at least, if you’re willing to brave the cold. Case in point: Nordic Lights, a series of installations currently illuminating the Harbourfront Centre campus.

Co-produced by Olso-based Fjord Studio, Toronto’s Nordic Lights highlights both Canadian and Nordic artists, with six breathtaking works to explore until February 21st. The free event lights up every night from 5-10pm, and with each installation’s accompanying audio commentary, you won’t miss the gallery experience. Look no further for your weekend plans.

nordic lights toronto Harbourfront
Aleksandra Stratimirovic installation at Toronto’s Nordic Lights Festival. Photo by Sydney Shilling
Great Minds

There’s a reason the lightbulb has become a universal symbol for great ideas. This piece by Aleksandra Stratimirovic comprises two brains that flicker in and out of vibrant neon colour, establishing a visual dialogue that is sure to inspire. Perhaps this piece will spark your next big aha-moment — at the very least, it’s a great backdrop for your next Instagram.

nordic lights toronto Harbourfront
Installation by Toronto studio Irregular. Photo by Sydney Shilling

In Ontario Square, you can do more than just observe — you can actually become part of the art. This interactive LED cube responds to touch, changing the light and sound pattern in real-time. Originally designed for Montreal’s Igloofest in 2011 by local studio Irregular, the piece allows up to 48 people to participate at once for the ultimate collab experience.

nordic lights toronto Harbourfront
Light sculpture by Hans E. Madsen and Frederik D. Hougs. Photo by Brian Medina

A larger than life, three-dimensional digital doodle hangs from the scaffolding in Canada Square. The piece, a collaboration between Danish artist Hans E. Madsen and lighting technician Frederik D. Hougs, injects the space with a sense of childhood whimsy. Watch from below as vibrant blue and purple lights travel along the 300 metres of LED rope with an almost hypnotic effect.

nordic lights toronto Harbourfront
Projections by Finnish artist Outi Pieski. Photo by Sydney Shilling

No need to head to Niagara for a taste of the falls. Projected on the Power Plant’s eastern façade, water flows out of the gallery’s windows, accompanied by the voice of Sámi yoik singer Hildá Länsman. A commentary on the sanctity of water in Indigenous tradition, this installation by Finnish artist Outi Pieski sparks a timely conversation about the power structures that inhibit access to clean water.


Equinox installation at Power Plant
Projection by Anastasia Isachsen. Photo by Brian Medina



If you’re in the mood for a double feature, stick around for a second projection at the Power Plant. Combining contemporary dance, nu-jazz and graphics, Norwegian artist Anastasia Isachsen explores the moment where light balances darkness in Equinox. This interpretative piece’s stunning visuals provide the perfect impetus for introspection.

light installation by Swedish designer Alexander Lervik
Installation by Alexander Lervik. Photo by Sydney Shilling
Sense Light Swing

Recess is in session — this time, after hours. Conceived by Swedish designer Alexander Lervik, this playful installation-meets-swing set approaches art with a refreshing sense of humour. Embrace your inner child and hop on to one of the 6 acrylic LED swings located in the Harbourfront’s North Orchard to create your own kinetic light show.

For more information on Toronto’s Nordic Lights, visit their website at harbourfrontcentre.com

You may also like