The Story Behind Lumaze, the Dazzling Christmas Light Festival in Cincinnati

If you live in Ohio or Northern Kentucky, you have the excitement of having a light festival in Cincinnati this year! Lumaze is coming to the downtown area, and it’s filled with lots of things to do. Not only is it one of the best Christmas festivals in Cincinnati, but there are live shows, thousands of lights, a holiday market, and tons of things for the kids to do.

We had the opportunity to chat with Daryl Driegen, the Director of Operations for both Lumaze and Glow Gardens, to learn all about how this Cincinnati light show originated. Here’s the scoop on the history behind Lumaze and what to expect this year in our Q&A with Daryl.

Don’t miss out on an incredible Christmas experience and get your tickets for Lumaze Cincinnati now!

Q: How did you get the idea to start a Christmas light festival? 

christmas ball hanging from tree

A: Lumaze was started in our hometown of Langley BC, Canada. We are an entrepreneurial family that has been commercially producing flowers and hothouse vegetables since the ’90s, and we currently have 70+ acres of production under glass. In June of 2017, the 2nd generation owner CEO, Lawrence Jansen, recognized that families in our rainy climate needed a unique place to spend time at Christmas.

So, he came up with the idea of changing our 100,000 sq ft glass warehouse into an event venue for Christmas. Two days later, his parents were on a plane to visit factories, and 14 days later, we had ordered all of the pieces to make a show.

We assembled a team to help us manage this grand project, but some of the key directors included Breanne Kanis (his sister) as Design Director and Daryl Driegen (me, his brother-in-law) as Operations Director. The 2017 light show was titled “Santa’s Lost Presents,” and the highlight was our 250’ long animated tunnel with four programable songs.

Q: How did you branch out to include other cities, including a Cincinnati festival of lights?

Cincinnati night skyview

A: In 2018, we thought we would take our family-friendly event to different cities with cold or rainy Christmas seasons across Canada, so we partnered with two other greenhouses in Edmonton, Alberta, and Barrie, Ontario to be the hosts. The goal of our event was to turn it into a family tradition. To do this, we wanted to bring a completely new theme each year but with the same great customer experience.

In 2019 we expanded further to 10 cities, expanding for the first time into the United States and Europe. The cities brought the show to were: Pittsburgh PA, Seattle WA, Odense Denmark, Halifax NS, Ottawa ON, Toronto ON, Saskatoon, SK, Edmonton AB, Abbotsford BC, Vancouver BC.

As for all, 2020 was a difficult year for our business. We were forced to lay off all but a few of our core staff. Due to government intervention, our indoor events were not able to run successfully, so we tried our first ever outdoor walk-around event and brought “A Fairytale Christmas” to Salt Lake City, UT. In addition, we did our first two drive-through events in Langley BC and Stevensville ON and were very well received by the communities. We did not add any new elements in 2020 but combined several of our shows together to be able to create the drive-thru experience.

Q: What are some of the past themes of your Christmas festivals?

Chinese dragon light sculpture at Lumaze the Christmas light festival in Cincinnati

A: In 2018, we moved “Santa’s Lost Presents” to Edmonton. The other two locations hosted the first-ever “Glow Around the World,” which included the giant Chinese lantern dragon, a giant Taj Mahal, and a 20’ tall piñata. We also added a trackless electric train ride for children and wandering princesses to all of our events.

We included two new themes, “A Fairytale Christmas,” featuring a giant light-up castle and a 40’ present tree. Then “Santa’s Sleigh Adventure” showcases a 20’ tall hot air balloon, an 80’ long light-up train, and a bi-wing plane that you could even sit in. Additionally, we improved the “Glow Around the World” theme by adding a “The North Pole” section to add to the Christmas cheer.

Q: What is in store for this year’s light festival in Cincinnati?

A: For 2021, we have adapted to the times and are bringing some of our events back indoors. We have new events planned for Cincinnati OH, and familiar locations in Edmonton AB, Halifax NS, and Saskatoon SK, as well as bringing a one-of-a-kind “Fairytale Christmas” as a drive-through in Langley BC.

We are excited to be bringing Lumaze to Cincinnati OH, this year as it has been two years in the making, and we know the people of Cincinnati will realize it could be a start to a great annual tradition.

This year, be a part of the holiday fun and take your family to Lumaze. Plan to spend the day enjoying all of the festivities of this light festival in Cincinnati, and know that your family is taking part in keeping another family’s vision alive by bringing joy to others during the holiday season.

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