The girl leans forward expectantly in her chair behind the tent flap, her legs swinging to the strum of the man’s guitar. “This is the spell we fall under,” he sings, “our hearts full of gold and of wonder.
It’s a welcome song, an invitation. The music swells and the girl jumps up, claps her hands, hefts her pack and blows out the lamp, leaving only a trail of fairy dust sparkling in their wake.
We’re on a forest path on Cougar Mountain, eight kilometers north of Whistler, but we might as well be in an enchanted forest, as our hologram hosts would have us believe. This is Vallea Lumina, created by the Moment Factory in collaboration with Whistler’s The Adventure Group, back for its first-ever winter run after two successful summers casting spells on this west coast trail.
To call it a multisensory light and sound show hardly does the experience justice. It’s a stirring, at times even breathtaking, journey through what, by day, must be a typical Whistler-area trail—transformed into an ancient, mystical grove of shimmering wonder.
Three men play cards inside the next tent along the path, their shovels propped against the outside flap. At the crack of thunder they all look up, then crouch together as the storm hits—and the stars begin to fall to the ground.
“You’re stardust,” the ancient trees tell us, their gnarled faces suddenly illuminated, as flashes of purple flicker through the trees.
Meditation chants reverberate as we follow the path to a footbridge, where blue and green pinpoints of light dance along the branches, like thousands of fireflies gently swarming all around us.
Like stars fallen to earth.
“This is the spell we fall under,” the man and girl, now reunited around a campfire, harmonize, warming their hands by the imaginary yet oh-so-real flames. They sing of the forest and its guardians, the stardust in the air. Hear the valley calling, they entreat us.
From the stars that shine above us, to the spirit in the trees, our souls are all connected, they chorus. And for a magical moment, they’re right.
Vallea Lumina opens every night at sundown and runs until April 2020.