Cool Things to Do in the Dark

Thank the Lord for the nighttime! It can be mysterious, romantic, soothing, intimidating or inspiring.

By Diana Ballon   |   July 29, 2021

  Cristofer Jeschke, Unsplash

Darkness is the perfect backdrop for a lot of things—the stars, the northern lights, a meal, a light show or just quiet reflection.

1. Discover Foresta Lumina
This multimedia nighttime experience involves wandering through an enchanted forest in Quebec’s Eastern Townships, on a trail illuminated by multicoloured lights, and the sounds and stories of mystical creatures. The magic of this experience is not just for kids; it’s for anyone who can open their mind to the tales of fantastical night creatures like Margaret, whose soul apparently still lives here.

2. Experience a Nordic Spa
The Spa Nordic Station just outside Magog, also in the Eastern Townships, is all about relaxing in natural, rustic elegance. Small waterfalls flow into pools and a river at the base of the property is the perfect spot for a cool dip. Intersperse cold plunges with the warmth of a Finnish sauna, a Russian banya and a eucalyptus-infused steam crypt.

3. Kayak by Moonlight
Paddling is fun any time, but it’s extra special when you can experience bioluminescence at the same time. The Into the Night Kayak Tour by Metta Eco-Experiences, located three hours northwest of Vancouver on BC’s Sunshine Coast, delivers this surreal experience. Marine microorganisms emit light that glows near the surface of the water, appearing to shimmer with the movement of your kayak.

4. Dine in the Dark
At O.NOIR in Toronto and Montreal, and at Dark Table in Calgary and Vancouver, you get a taste for what it might be like to dine out without the benefit of sight, with the help of visually impaired servers. Diners simply have to feel where the food is on their plates—and try not to spill anything.

5. See the Northern Lights
The Northwest Territories have been dubbed the best place in the world to see the aurora borealis. There are more than 240 viewing nights per year, with the lights best seen from mid-August to the end of October and from mid-December to the end of March. Many lodges here provide an “aurora wake-up service” so you don’t miss anything. At Aurora Village, near Yellowknife, you can spend an evening in a private teepee, having dinner and watching the light show.

6. Shop a Night Market
BC’s Richmond Night Market is the largest in North America, open weekends and holidays through summer, fall and potentially to December. The stalls, vendors and entertainment span more than seven hectares, including music and dance performances, carnival games and rides. Gastronomic favourites include deep-fried stuffed crab claws with cheese on top, spiralled deep-fried potato on a stick, and dragon’s beard candy.

7. See the Stars
If you want to experience truly great stargazing, visit one of the 22 dark-sky preserves in Canada, approximately half of which are managed by Parks Canada. They allow you to view the night sky without the obstruction of artificial light from nearby cities. In Atlantic Canada, one of the popular preserves is in New Brunswick’s Mount Carleton Provincial Park, which is the highest point in the Maritimes. Another worthy option is northeastern Alberta’s Wood Buffalo National Park, which the Royal Astronomical Society of Canada has designated the world’s largest dark-sky preserve.

8. Sleep in a Lighthouse
The West Point Lighthouse Inn in western Prince Edward Island has 11 seaside rooms, but the best idea is to book the Keeper’s Quarters, where the lighthouse keeper’s family once lived, or the Tower Room, which overlooks the Northumberland Strait. At 21 metres, this is the tallest lighthouse in PEI—and, apparently, one of the most haunted.

9. Take a Photography Class
A nightscape workshop with Far East Photography Tours in St. John’s will improve your skills shooting in low light, at “blue hour,” in rain or in fog. The Hopewell Rocks Night Photography Excursion in the Bay of Fundy with Creative Imagery can also help with the techniques of nighttime photography.

10. Visit the Falls
Beginning at dusk, Niagara Falls is awash in a rainbow of colours with a mesmerizing, multihued water and light show. Check the online Illumination Schedule to find out when the Falls will be lit in “custom colours” to celebrate or commemorate important dates and events.

Diana Ballon
dianamaryballon  Website

Diana writes about travel and health, and is most happy when she can combine the two. She likes to cycle and hike. And she loves staying in glam hotel rooms, rather than her messy bedroom at home.

Look for Travelier in print soon.