MORRISBURG – Winter storms that prompted three days of closures contributed to a 22 per cent year-over-year drop in visitors to Alight at Night at Upper Canada Village.
The popular Eastern Ontario holiday season attraction saw 36,000 people pass through the gates in 2022, a 10,000 visit reduction from 2021.
Katie Forrester with the St. Lawrence Parks Commission said it was the first time the event had three weather-related closures in its 22 year history.
“One of the closures took place on one of our historically busiest evenings, December 23,” Forrester said. “Ticket holders were able to use their tickets for the same timed entry on any other night of their choosing.”
The weather closures were made “pro-actively” by SLPC officials. Extreme snow storms blanketed the region in the weeks leading up to Christmas.
Forrester said the Alight at Night event nearly set an attendance record of over 46,000 in 2021, the second highest for the festive event.
“While last year’s attendance numbers were over 46,000, these numbers represented a significant pent-up demand for COVID-safe activities, particularly outdoor activities, at a time where public health restrictions had significantly limited people’s ability to attend attractions and gather and celebrate the holidays,” she explained.
Alight at Night set a new attendance record in 2018 as over 47,900 passed through the gates. Unseasonably warm weather contributed to the record setting visitor count at the time.
In 2020, about 10,300 people visited the Upper Canada Village-based event due to public health restrictions in place in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“This year’s data shows trends toward returning to pre-pandemic times, with lower attendance on school nights (Thursdays and Sundays),” Forrester said of the visitor count.
She added that every year, staff reviews the season and visitor feedback.
“A post-event survey was completed by 550 guests, offering valuable insights and feedback. Part of that wrap-up discussion always includes ways to attract more visitation.”
After the January 7 end of the season, the village hosted the annual Dion Ignite the Night 5K and 10K snowshoe races on January 14, which attracted 113 entrants this year.