This post was most recently updated on July 9th, 2019
AURA is the product of a multi-million-dollar investment in the 375th birthday of Montreal’s Basilique Notre-Dame (or Basilica of Notre Dame). The beautiful “lady” of Montreal was already central to the history and downtown scene of Montreal. The Basilica of Notre Dame’s decor was most recently patterned after the Sainte-Chapelle cathedral in Paris. If you’ve seen Sainte-Chapelle, you will see the similarities with richly painted carved wood, gilded in gold. Now, it has become that much more stunning with the enhancements produced by the Moment Factory.
Perfect Date Night
On a recent trip to Montreal, my husband and I were invited to view AURA to see it for ourselves. I had seen a video on the Notre Dame website and was absolutely in awe already! As we arrived, there was plenty of magic in the air. Blue lights backlit the entrance of Notre-Dame, and a good crowd of people were already waiting in line to enter. Across from the Basilica, in the Place D’Armes, we enjoyed a beautiful fountain with lights and a musician playing “Ma Cherie Amour” on the guitar.
We didn’t need to worry too much about what time we arrived because there’s no advantage to being at the front of the line. The show began at 8:00 pm, and the doors opened at about 7:45.
Prelude to the show
When the doors were opened, we were invited to stroll around the inside of the basilica to see the different pieces of art highlighted by light displays. Candles also added to the dreamy look. Depending on when you enter, you’ll have 10-20 minutes to walk around, which is plenty of time. During this time, it appeared to be fine to take photos. However, once you are seated and the light show begins, there is no photography or video allowed.
Finally, we were invited to take a seat anywhere in the basilica. No seat is a bad seat, because the light show affects the entire inside of the basilica. As soon as the music began, we were mesmerized.
The Light Show
As I watched the light show, I saw themes of the seasons, a storm, fire, and new life. Beams of light follow every rib of the vaulted ceiling and paint the basilica with colored light — sometimes blue, green or even gold. The spaces between the ribs become movie screens where video is projected to transform the ceiling into the leaves of a tree, lightning in a storm, or an open sky. Light continues to flow up the walls, highlighting the basilica’s beautiful architecture and structure. The effect is as if solid things are moving and morphing into other objects. All the while, a majestic sound track is being played that is perfectly synchronized with the movement of light.
My husband’s favorite part was the portrayal of trees in changing seasons — first green with birds singing, next glowing with the reds and golds of fall, and then icy with snow and bare branches. It really looks like the basilica has become a forest, and you are at the base of the trees looking up into the treetops. I really liked the end when trees dissolve away, and it is as if you are looking into the heavens. The light, the music, and the vision of clouds and space is magnificent and celestial. Watch this video from the AURA website, and perhaps you will get an idea of what I am trying to describe:
More About the Show
I personally can’t even imagine how difficult it must have been to produce AURA. Everything was so perfectly synchronized. The project was one of the most difficult that Moment Factory has taken on. Over 100 people have contributed to the project, and active production took place from August 2016 to March 2017.
There’s a fascinating video about the making of AURA, if you’d like to understand more of the details behind the scenes.
The show’s directors imagined AURA to have three storytelling “chapters” — 1) The Birth of Light, 2) The Obstacles, and 3) The Open Sky. Depending on your religious convictions, you may also see themes of spiritual significance. But one thing for sure, you will definitely feel something. The AURA experience is profoundly moving. It lifts you, elates you, and touches you in an amazing way. If you ever have the opportunity to see AURA, I highly recommend it.
Things You Might Want to KNow about AURA
- You can purchase tickets at the box office or online. The cost for an adult ticket is $23.00 CAD plus service charges.
- Seats are not assigned, and every seat is a good one. The actual light show lasts about 20 minutes. Total AURA experience ranges from 30-45 minutes.
- We found a parking lot only one block away at about 51 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest for $10 CAD. There is also a parking garage at 500 Place D’Armes for $9-$13.
- No food or drink is allowed inside Notre-Dame Basilica. After the show, we visited Pizzeria Bros at 13 Rue Notre-Dame Ouest, which not only featured amazing flat-bread pizzas and artisan salads, but we had our custom-designed pizza at our table in less than 10 minutes! It’s a great choice for dinner before or after the show.
Be sure to pin this article so you’ll have it ready when you plan your trip to Montreal…
The neighborhood, the plaza, the edifice, the interior and the light show…all were incredible!
What an interesting concept for a show! I’ll definitely have to see a light show sometime in my day.
Montreal is so high on my travel list! Their Notre Dame looks magnificent, thanks for sharing 🙂
I have never been to Montreal, but WITS 2018 is in Quebec City, so I am thinking it is my big opportunity to go!
Is it? Oh wow! I’d love to go back again. I’ll have to look into attending WITS!
My husband and I are considering a trip to Montreal. This would be a great addition to our visit.
This really does sound like a great date night! What a fun idea. I like that you can take pictures beforehand but don’t have to worry about a camera flash ruining the experience during the light show.
I’ve never heard of AURA but it seems like an amazing experience you really have to see for yourself. I’m considering attending WITS, too, and would love to get here if I do.
There’s a lot to do in Montreal, too! Great food and art! If you’re going to Quebec, you should include Montreal for a different feel.
Sure looks comparably amazing as the Notre Dame. Loved the lighting too! Makes it look all the more surreal!
Montreal is very high on my places to visit when I do my Canada trip and although I’m not a religious person I would love to go and see this show. Now I just need somebody to take as my date haha 😀 – But thank you for bringing this to my attention
I had no idea they hosted light shows at the cathedral. We visited last year and found it to be an amazing building but this sounds fabulous
OMG! This is spectacular! It ends in March? I haven’t been to Montreal but as a California girl I’m not sold on going in the winter!
I actually heard it’s supposed to be there five years now!
I would love to see this Aura light show inside the Notre-Dame, it looks incredible! I have not visited Montreal, but it looks beautiful, definitely and city I would love to explore. I will have to look at the video on how the show was made!
What an extraordinary idea to play such a Aura light show in the Basilique de Notre-Dame of Montreal. The play of light and the different colors enhance the wonderful architecture of this wonderful building. I’d love to see such a show.