FORESTA LUMINA is reopening! (and how to get there with no car)
Foresta Lumina is a light installation that’s been recreated every year in Coaticook’s Parc de la Gorge, Canada. The mastermind for this experience is Moment Factory, a multimedia entertainment studio who “create multimedia entertainment to bring people together”.
The installation takes part at night in the forest. Between illuminated trails and melodic storytelling, visitors go through an approximately 40 minute long immersive experience that starts with an introduction to the tale of Margaret who lived in those woods, and had a rare gift that made her see what others should not. She wasn’t the only one present in the forest, and throughout all the walk you will meet with these beings until you can finally arrive to the Enchanted River.
We were fortunate enough to visit Foresta Lumina on the year it started (2014), and because Coaticook is a town away from the city, getting to the park was no easy task without a car. I’m going to narrate you the story starting from Montréal, Canada.
Before getting to Canada I found out there was no service to many outside towns on the weekends, so the trip had to start on a Friday.
I contacted Parc De La Gorge and they told me I had to get first to Sherbrooke (another town) and take the bus to Coaticook which only ran during the weekdays, and after the show, there was no bus out of the town. Then I contacted Acti-Bus to ask about they’re buses from Sherbrooke to Coaticook and they told me the same thing.
For 40 CD I bought the ticket from Montréal to Sherbrook with Limocar, two days before my trip, and in case I didn’t use it that day, I had one year to spend it.
I arrived at Montréal on a Thursday September 11 (yes, plane tickets were really cheap that day, and I didn’t notice on the date until after I bought them Lol), and on Friday I woke up early (stayed at a Hosteling International), walked to the Gare D’autocars De Montréal (the main bus station) and took a 6 a.m. bus to Sherbrooke.
There were more departure schedules during the day but I didn’t want to be late to Coaticook because the tickets to Foresta Lumina were on a first come, first served basis, and they sold out.
The bus left me on the Terminus of Sherbrooke at 8:10, and now I had enough time to make my check in at the HI-Sherbrooke Ecobeat Hostel (unfortunately, this hostel is now closed), which was very conveniently just a block away from the bus station, and there’s the river on the other side of the station.
Each night on a 6 person room was 31 CD, although hostels have been getting VERY expensive lately so right now it probably costs more…and after I left my things, I had some lunch and took an Acti-bus again from the Sherbrooke Terminus at midday, and got to Coaticook after an hour. The ticket had to be bought at the terminal, and I don’t think it costs more than 10 bucks.
The bus wouldn’t stop in front of Parc de la Gorge, so I had to walk from Coaticook to the entrance of the park to buy the tickets, and this is when it got interesting. I was sightseeing in the little town, looking for a pay phone to call a cab and schedule a pick up after the event, but I couldn’t find one (who needs them this days anyway right?), there was one in the gas station that didn’t work, and I finally found a phone inside a restaurant (that I don’t think exists anymore) and I called the taxi company Taxi300. For more that I insisted, and basically pleaded, they wouldn’t schedule my pick up. I explained this was going to be a long distance trip and that I didn’t have a cellphone (with service) but still they told me If I wanted the taxi, I had to call for it the moment that I needed the ride. Bed & Breakfasts were very expensive and I’d already payed my stay in Sherbrooke, so I would know my destiny until night.
I was starting to mentalize of camping in the Park. Anyways, I walked all the way to the Parc de la Gorge (like 30 minutes, not that bad, and it wasn’t freezing) and I finally bought a ticket for the event, hurray!.
Having to wait until 7 and starving, I went to eat to Coffret de L’lmagination just in front of the ticket office, and this is when my Bacon sandwich madness begun. The Canadian bacon was great so I ended up eating a BLT every time I saw one on the menu, with french fries and mayonnaise (yes, no ketchup, the mayo they use it’s herb spiced, yum).
There was no WiFi close by (not even in Coaticook a that time, at least public) but good thing I took my kindle with me and waited there until people started showing up, like an hour before the opening.
When I finally got into Foresta Lumina I still couldn’t believe I was there, I guess because of the long trip I took, and it was one of those places that I saw on the internet and I cataloged as fantasy, out of this world. Well, it was pretty real, and magical. The doorway at the end of the bridge really felt like entering another world and you couldn’t really see the trees but the colored light dots told you there was a tree there, or the cliff besides the bridge, or the rocks on the river. That was the year that after spending hours on the internet looking at all the things people can create, the idea of starting a blog was born. 3 years later…better late than never right?
Speaking about the pathway, there were some very steep areas and to go down some people turned on they’re cellphones light because it’s very dark. If you have trouble with the steep hill, just get in contact with the organizers and ask them were the steep slopes are located, because I remember there were some areas (like the Enchanted river) that you could access from another path that was easy access.
When I decided I’ve had enough, I went to the ticket office and explained in the best way I could my situation to one of the workers. I didn’t have a working cellphone and I needed to call a cab to take me all the way to back to Sherbrooke, the girl was kind enough to let me use the phone, and she even called the cab for me, which was in fact available and was going to pick me up in like 20 minutes. After I thank her and I was leaving, I saw the guest book and I signed it.
When the cab arrived it seems they noticed my distress on our phone conversations (geez) and the driver gave me a bag of the Laiterie of Coaticook’s cheese, as a kind gesture. It was a very soft and creamy cheese. If you see a bag, buy it!
After almost an hour long drive, I arrived at the hostel, and when I told the girl in reception how much I’d payed for the cab, she told me I could have called them to pick me up.
Well, now you know. If you stay at that hostel or an hotel explain to them your situation and maybe they can help you out.
Conclusion? Would I make all this trip again to go to Foresta Lumina?
Yes, I’m glad the event is still being organized and I plan to go back.
Not convinced? See the video:
I hope this post helps you out if you want to experience it, and if you made it to the park please share your experience. And…you know, if you visit don’t leave trash, eat a lot of bacon sandwiches, and sign every Guest book you see. I heard the townspeople commenting about the foreigners that were visiting the town to see the show, it amuses them.