OTTAWA — Canadian Heritage spent $15,000 last year asking tourists on Parliament Hill if they liked the Christmas lights.
The survey from Quorus Consulting Group was conducted on Dec. 2 — the first day of the event, which was marked by newly elected Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s presence and live performances by singer Measha Brueggergosman and the Ottawa Regional Youth Choir, as well as a pyrotechnics show — and on Dec. 5, 2015.
Pyrotechnics explode in front of the Peace Tower as Christmas lights illuminate Parliament Hill on Dec. 3, 2014. (Photo: Justin Tang/CP)
Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the 437 survey respondents said they were “highly satisfied” with the free multimedia projection show and the 400,000 Christmas lights glowing throughout the national capital that form part of Christmas Lights Across Canada (CLAC). The program has been around since 1985.
The executive summary of the $14,976.74 poll suggests:
- 94 per cent of visitors said they were overall “extremely” or “very” satisfied with the event;
- 98 per cent said they “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed they would recommend the event to others;
- 94 per cent said they “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed that the illumination ceremony or projection show contribute to the vibrancy of Canada’s Capital Region;
- 95 per cent said they “strongly” or “somewhat” agreed that the illumination ceremony or projection show are worth seeing another time.
Quorus Consulting Group also reported that a large majority of respondents were satisfied with the projected images (93 per cent), the lighting effects (92 per cent), and the music, audio and sound effects (87 per cent).
But the storyline of the multimedia project failed to resonate with some tourists.
“The storyline may not have come across in a very compelling or recognizable manner for attendees, as only 65% indicated they were either “extremely” or “very” satisfied this aspect of CLAC,” the report stated.
The project, developed and produced at a cost of $350,000, according to a report last year in the Ottawa Citizen, projected “magical winter landscapes” onto the Peace Tower and Centre Block and featured a grizzly bear, a fox and a snowman on a quest for light.
2 per cent dissatisfied with bilingual format
Two per cent of respondents also said they were dissatisfied with the bilingual format of the show.
The survey notes that its data aren’t weighted to replicate the actual population. Seventy-one per cent of survey respondents were first-time tourists. The reports notes, though, that 57 per cent of respondents also agreed that seeing the illumination ceremony and the lights on Parliament Hill is a family tradition for them.
Also not surprisingly, Quorus notes that this was especially true for “married respondents vs. single respondents (71 per cent vs. 51 per cent).”
The public opinion research was intended to measure the effectiveness of the program’s marketing strategy and measure the overall satisfaction with the ceremony. The survey found attendees had mostly heard about the event through word of mouth (38 per cent), on Facebook (33 per cent) or through traditional media, such as radio, newspapers or outdoor posters (26 per cent).
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and his son Xavier look on as fireworks mark the start of Christmas Lights Across Canada on Parliament Hill in Ottawa on Dec. 2, 2015. (Photo: Justin Tang/CP)
However, some tourists (15 per cent) just showed up at the lightening ceremony on Dec. 2 because they noticed something happening on Parliament Hill as they walked by.
The CLAC program also features dazzling displays in provincial capitals, but the survey did not ask respondents about this.
Christmas Lights Across Canada kicks off tonight (Dec. 7) on Parliament Hill for the 2017 season. Trudeau is not expected to attend, but he issued a statement Wednesday morning marking the official launch of its 32nd edition.
“These lights illuminate our nation’s capital and provincial and territorial capitals across the country. They connect our communities and represent the values that bring us together – those of peace, unity, and confidence in the future,” the prime minister said.
He urged Canadians to take a moment to reflect on how fortunate they are to call Canada home and to remember the women and men of the Canadian Armed Forces who, with their families, make incredible sacrifices every day.
"I encourage all Canadians to warmly welcome those who have recently arrived in Canada as they experience the Canadian holiday season – and a Canadian winter – for the first time."
“Finally, I encourage all Canadians to warmly welcome those who have recently arrived in Canada as they experience the Canadian holiday season – and a Canadian winter – for the first time,” Trudeau added. “We are neighbours who look out for each other, and lending a hand to those in need is at heart of the holiday season.”
He invited Canadians to join the annual gathering in the capital by watching the evening’s festivities on Facebook live at 7 p.m. ET.
This year’s official illumination ceremony features Heritage Minister Mélanie Joly, on-site performances and fireworks. The 13-minute light show will run each night from 5:30 p.m. to 11 p.m. until Christmas day. The lights, however, will be displayed until Jan. 7, 2017.
This year’s new feature includes red and white lights in Confederation Park, a few blocks away from Parliament Hill, to mark Canada’s 150th anniversary in the new year.