It’s the most magical thing I’ve ever seen. I feel like a child in a fairy tale.
My mum is on a wooden bridge with my three-year-old, Ella in her arms. They’re gazing in wonder at the scene before them. It’s as if Tinkerbell has shot past and showered the ground and snow-laden trees in fairy dust.
Thousands of coloured dots hang, suspended in the air. As we make our way across the bridge, I wonder where we might end up on the other side, Narnia perhaps?
Vallea Lumina is a multimedia experience that takes place in the forest at the base of Cougar Mountain, a 10-minute drive north of Whistler Village. The snow definitely adds to the sense of wonder and with earlier start times in winter (tours begin at 6 PM), it’s even easier to bring the little ones along.
The one-kilometre trail (it’s longer in summer) takes about 45-minutes to an hour to complete. It’s mostly flat, but with a few hills to navigate, so keep that in mind if you think you might need to carry a munchkin. They do grit and salt the ground, but you are out in Mother Nature so good winter boots are the best option to keep you warm and give you traction. I kept Ella in her layered ski gear and gave her an early dinner before we left on our “nighttime adventure.”
You can either bring your own car (parking is $15 per vehicle), or take a shuttle from Whistler Village to The Adventure Group’s base ($12 per person), which is aglow with stringed lights and campfires. The evening we chose happened to be misty and a few delicate snowflakes were falling. As we made our way up the trail, it felt like we were journeying into another world. Ella got a little scared at the start with some of the music and special effects making faces appear on the trees, but we explained these were the “guardians of the forest”, which made complete sense to her three-year-old imagination.
A story unfolds as you walk along – two long-ago hikers, a little girl and her grandad, are following a trail of stardust to find a mystical hidden valley. You hear them singing at their camp, discover their empty tent and as you look for them you’re drawn into this otherworldly place where moon balls sit high in the trees, glowing salmon leap from the river, and multi-coloured bears materialize in midair. Ella definitely didn’t grasp the nuances of the story, but she understood the premise of the hikers looking for something magical and wanted to be part of the journey.
When we finished the trail we snuggled by the campfire back at base. We bought marshmallows to toast from the little snack shack and devoured those until someone started rubbing their eyes. I asked Ella if she enjoyed it and she told me she wanted to go with the bear. I said I’d miss her, but it did look fun to follow the stardust.
For me, the magical part of it all was to watch Ella and my mum. The sense of awe and wonder that comes so easily to my three-year-old worked its way through us all. Even writing this I get the tingles knowing this hidden place in the forest exists – a place where the magic of our imagination is allowed to roam wild and free.
Book your own stardust-filled Vallea Lumina experience with the team at Whistler.com. You can book tickets just to Vallea Lumina, or try the Adventure Group Park Day Pass, which gives you access to Superfly Ziplines, the Aerial Obstacle Course, RZR Tours, and Vallea Lumina all in one day.