Luminaria opens Dec. 1 with safety measures

Girl in hat at Luminaria
The popular Luminaria event will open as planned at the University of Alberta Botanic Garden, offering a safe, beautiful outdoor experience starting December 1. Photo: Explore Edmonton


November 25, 2020

The University of Alberta Botanic Garden will run its popular and beloved Luminaria event as planned this December, bringing some light to the community this winter with a safe, outdoor experience.

“Following the Nov. 24, 2020 update from Alberta Health Services on Covid-19 measures, we are very happy to say that Luminaria can open as planned starting December 1, and people in the Edmonton region will have access to a beautiful winter experience,” said Carl Charest, interim executive director. “Ever since the beginning of the pandemic, we have been extremely diligent about public safety at the Garden, and that care has extended to Luminaria.”

During Luminaria, which has been expanded to run the entire month of December, guests will be able to stroll through candle-lit pathways and illuminated displays, at a much lower capacity than previous years, resulting in a small number of people spread out over a large area.  “Luminaria can give people that warm, joyful feeling that we are all craving,” said Charest. “With the small number of people coming each night, it will be a special, uncrowded experience, a moment of brightness in a challenging year. A peaceful walk under the stars, lighting a candle in honour of a loved one in Memory Lane, seeing a glimpse of an illuminated Snow Sprite – these are restorative activities.”

Working closely with health officials, the Garden implemented many safety measures this year, including planning for Luminaria. Those careful measures meant over 70,000 visitors came to the Garden during the summer and fall without a single case of Covid-19 reported. Every detail of Luminaria has been considered with guidance from health officials, said Charest, from keeping choirs properly distanced to figuring out a system of safely giving out apple cider. With the limited number of guests allowed through the gates, shuttle busses won’t be needed, as there will be adequate free parking at the garden for everyone.

There are some changes resulting from the province’s announcement on Tuesday:

  • Maximum group size has been reduced from 15 to 10. People who plan to attend Luminaria as a group will be required to adhere to the new minimum.
  • Guests participating in the Northern Light Dining Experience, a new private indoor dining offering at the Garden, will be limited to members of immediate households, (or, if they live alone, with two members of a previously established cohort). The Garden will work with guests who are affected by these changes, to adjust or refund their reservations.

The UA Botanic Garden is committed to safety, and will adjust to any new public health measures over the coming weeks, said Charest. “We also recognize that people need something to lift their spirits, and we’re so glad we can offer that, balancing safety with a need for mental wellness.”

Advance reservations are required for Luminaria, which runs every evening in December except Dec. 25. This popular annual event, a holiday tradition for many people, routinely sells out, so early purchase is recommended.

For Luminaria or ticket information: | 780-492-3138 

Media contact:
Kerry Mulholland | Communications Coordinator | 780-492-3303