Eclipse Walk With Light

Article and Photography by Andy Zeltkalns

There are many places to go for a hike or walk in Muskoka, each with its own distinctive signature. One such walk however stands apart from the rest and offers visitors a truly unique experience. The Eclipse Walk With Light in Huntsville, which opened in November 2021, takes one through a memorable interactive journey of artistic lights and sounds.

During COVID-19, when social distancing was still a concern, Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce conceived the idea of a safe outdoor activity that could be enjoyed by all and encouraged physical movement as well. Designed in collaboration with Limbic Media, visitors were “invited to lose themselves and experience the non-linear nature of time.”

Formerly located inside the grounds of Muskoka Heritage Place, participants walk a circular path through the forest and were greeted by illuminated soundscapes linked to the seasons of the year and cycles of the day and moon. Along the path of 20,000 lights, the walk was interspersed with illuminated pioneer buildings and structures in combination with music and spoken words.

Throughout the journey several stops allow people to interact with lights by creating their own sounds. At one of the elements, Awaken, ringing a bell wakes and lights up the flowers. Twilight encourages one to try out different sounds to influence the intensity and pattern of light. Creating a shadow on the surface of the moon is even possible at Moonrise where images of light were projected on the side of a barn.

Local or visitor, the experience is a memorable one. Jacqui Golsby from Vancouver Island who was visiting family describes the Eclipse Walk With Light as a “sensually rich experience of sound, light, texture and scent of fresh, wintery air.”

“My anticipation was piqued as we climbed the hill and above us, we heard haunting music and sounds with flashes of light illuminating the trees,” shares Golsby.

Joan, Golsby’s 90-year-old mother, found the trail easy to negotiate with her walker and enjoyed the music and narration, stating “It was an activity enjoyable for all ages. I came not knowing what to expect and was pleasantly surprised.”

Ellen Yeo from Bracebridge visited the event for the first time found it a “nice evening out” and thoroughly enjoyed the wintery night atmosphere in the forest of lights.

“My 8- and 10-year-old cousins loved running along the trails and interacting with the lights,” shares Yeo. “It kept us all busy and interested for the full hour we spent there.”

Truly an experience for anyone to enjoy, this writer also had the chance to visit the Walk With Light with his wife, Jayn, and their special needs daughter, Aleksandra. Soon after the start of the walk, entering an enchanting tunnel of lights immediately caught Aleksandra’s attention and made her look up at the magical display. The light and music along the way kept Aleksandra fully engaged in the experience.

For the 2023/2024 season, starting in November, the Eclipse Walk With Light is changing locations. The experience will now be found interspersed throughout the downtown area of Huntsville. According to the Huntsville/Lake of Bays Chamber of Commerce, future plans are to “change up the event” and possibly increase the size of it at a later date.

While there may be changes in the future, this coming winter plan to visit downtown Huntsville for a thoroughly noteworthy experience. The Eclipse Walk With Light displays are accessible to the public at no charge. The immersive magic of the lights and sounds will continue to captivate people as they stop, participate and enjoy.