A Really Big Ball and So Much More : The Luminato Festival

worlds largest mirror ball luminato festival toronto hearn generating station

Although Toronto's Luminato Festival has come and gone now, I still wanted to show you the shots I took there, because the venue was stunning. You'll see what I mean!

Meghan and I went on the final Friday of the 15-day festival. We hadn't gotten tickets for any of the shows, however had read that there was plenty to see there regardless.

Luminato organizers certainly chose an interesting and unique setting for their festival hub, for their 10th anniversary season. It was located at an old power plant called The Hearn Generating Station.

Set as it was in a remote location in a part of the city called the Portlands, about five kilometres from the downtown core, getting there was a bit of an adventure in itself. But the effort was completely worth it! (There was a shuttle bus, that went to Union Station, which we took on the way home, deciding on an Uber for the trip over.)

looking back towards the city from hearn generating station toronto

↑ Looking back towards downtown ↑

Hearn first opened in 1951, and provided electricity to the region via the burning of coal for 32 years, and closing in 1982. Then, for the next three decades the massive building stood mostly abandoned and deteriorating, until Luminato began using parts of it to stage some of their shows a couple of years ago. This year, they took it further, spending 3 1/2 weeks transforming it into their home for the whole festival. Considering the vast size of the place, their work focused on making the building usable for their purposes, leaving the majority of the space as it was when they first entered it. The whole effect was quite awe inspiring. (There's an article about what it took to do this on their website here.)

hearn power plant toronto portlands luminato

hearn power plant toronto

smokestack at hearn generating station portlands toronto

↑ Standing 215 metres tall, the smokestack is one of the world's tallest. ↑

hearn generating station toronto

Before heading into the building, we checked out this outdoor installation ...

untilled by pierre huyghe concrete sculpture with bee hive bee colony luminato toronto hearn power plant

untilled by pierre huyghe concrete statue with bee hive bee colony luminato toronto hearn power plant

Untilled by Pierre Huyghe. That's an active bee hive covering the statue's head. ↑

Then we ventured inside, having no idea what to expect ...

hearn dont look back

dont look back sign on hearn luminato festival

looking up hearn generating station

ticket booths luminato

me at hearn

luminato festival sign toronto ten year anniversary

inside the hearn generating station luminato festival toronto

lounge inside hearn generating station luminato festival toronto

There were several art installations set up ...

loop by bonnie tung ocad u art installation hearn generating station toronto luminato

Loop by Bonnie Tung ↑

the coating project film at luminato festival toronto

The Coating Project Film ↑

jordan soderberg mills art installation mirrors luminato toronto hearn

Jordan Söderberg Mills Mirrors and Lights ↑

art installation luminato hearn toronto

art installation with lamps at luminato hearn toronto

Making our way along the pathway, we could see the flashing and sparkling of lights in the distance. We knew that would be where the world's largest mirror ball would be found ...

inside hearn generating station luminato toronto

one thousand speculations worlds largest mirror ball luminato festival toronto

One Thousand Speculations a 7.9 metre wide ball, covered in 1,000 mirrors, created by Canadian artist Michel de Broin ↑

m and the big mirror ball

Then we climbed a set of metal stairs, to the upper level. Here you could get right beside the huge mirror ball ...

worlds largest mirror ball in toronto luminato hearn generating station

reflection in big mirror ball

large mirror ball toronto luminato festival hearn generating station

Also, here was the setting for a photography exhibit called Trove, featuring images of 50 of Toronto's treasures.

m reading program

program for trove art exhibit luminato festival toronto hearn

detail of trove art exhibit program

These 50 things, ranging from pieces of art to musical instruments to one of John Lennon's boots, were first photographed by artist Scott McFarland in their original location, be it a private collector's home, a gallery or a museum -- wherever the thing normally resides -- and then those photos were combined with photos of The Hearn. "The final images are like shots of the exhibition of Toronto’s 50 treasures in a future, imagined Hearn Generating Station Gallery."

trove photography exhibit luminato toronto andy warhol marilyn tapestry

↑ Andy Warhol Marilyn Tapestry - This treasure is part of someone's private collection. It's a very rare handwoven wool tapestry created in 1968. Originally intended to be one of 20, but this is the only one recorded as having been completed. ↑

trove photography exhibit luminato toronto opus les paul guitar

↑ The Golden Archtop : Gibson Les Paul Standard, 1952 - Another treasure from someone's private collection, this was Les Paul's personal guitar. The gold finish was found on all Gibson Les Paul guitars prior to 1953." ↑

trove photography exhibit luminato toronto opus wurlitzer organ

↑ Opus 558, Wurlitzer Theatre Pipe Organ, 1923 - This currently resides in Casa Loma. It was Canada's largest organ, originally located at Shea's Hoppodrome Theatre for vaudeville, and then moved to Maple Leaf Gardens until 1964. In 1974 it was moved to the old organ chambers at Casa Loma. ↑

There was a special pop-up restaurant called Le Pavillon" set up up there, in what was originally the control room of the power station. With a very limited number of seats, it was completely booked up in advance for the whole period of the festival.

le pavillon pop up restaurant at luminato festival toronto in hearn generating station


inside hearn generating station toronto

looking down

looking down hearn generating station toronto luminato festival

old crank handle hearn generating station toronto

We then headed by down and to some refreshment, in the form of an ice-cold cider ...

bar inside a shipping container hearn generating station luminato toronto


brickworks batch 1904 cider

me in power station

When we got outside the sun was beginning to set.

hearn power genarating plant toronto portlands

at luminato festival toronto hearn generating plant

We caught the shuttle bus back downtown ....

on shuttle bus

We both really enjoyed going, and can honestly say we'd never seen anything like that before. We were glad that we'd suppressed the urge to do the easy thing, which would have been to find a seat and a drink on a patio close to home, on what was a gloriously lovely summer afternoon. But the curious art lovers in us won out and we were happy they did.

Luminato is over now for this year but hopefully this remarkable temporary gallery and performance space will be set up by them again next year.

Thanks for checking out my post,
xo loulou

You May Also Like

Recent Stories

Robert Mapplethorpe's Unforgettable Photographs at Olga Korper Gallery A Delicious Dinner at Touhenboku Ramen A Royal Encounter : Sarah, Duchess of York, at Onsite Gallery Coffee Shop Date : At and Around Wallace Espresso on King Street West The Bay Queen Street Store : "Photo Backdrop Installation" Pool at The Rivoli and Other Birthday Highlights - 2019 Gorgeously Guilded : Art by Dalia Elcharbini at C9 Gallery Creative ReUse : Handmade Springtime Easter Baskets At the Gallery : The AGO's Exciting New Artwork by Yayoi Kusama Crochet for Cuties : Handmade Headwear for Babies Live Music : Emilie Kahn at The Drake Underground An X-cellent Evening at Hotel-X

3 Responses to A Really Big Ball and So Much More : The Luminato Festival

  1. Norma says:

    Looks very interesting! x

  2. Julie says:

    whoa, some amazing shots, this looks so cool! I often see bits of luminato, but not the big building version. And can we talk about how awesome Meghan’s top is? Love it.

  3. Hollie says:

    Oh my gosh that was like the coolest thing ever! I was describing the pics to my husband as I read. I wanna see it with my own eyes!

Leave a Comment