Christie Digital Christie Digital
Inspiration 4 Min Read

Let’s go inside Illuminarium

December 14, 2023

Toronto’s new immersive venue transports guests to other worlds

In this piece:

Have you been to an “immersive experience”? These venues transform relatively unremarkable spaces into a whole new world, courtesy of breathtaking content, interactivity, and a broad suite of different technologies, including high-brightness projectors.

A new immersive experience called Illuminarium at The Distillery District has opened in Toronto in a joint venture between Toronto-based Secret Location and Illuminarium Experiences. Located in a historic building known as the Fermenting Cellar, the experience reimagines the 13,000-square-foot space.

With experiences in Las Vegas and Atlanta, Illuminarium has proven itself to be a highly successful venture. Illuminarium chose The Distillery District as its first Canadian location. The interior of the historic space has been transformed into a permanent immersive experience with plans to offer new content throughout the year.

A person with a child on their shoulders looks at a nighttime scene of houses covered in snow that is projection mapped onto a wall and floor.

Winter Wonderland Spectacular transports guests to a winter dreamland.

What is an immersive experience?

Immersive experiences are just that – they immerse guests in their surroundings using images, props, scents, sounds, and interactivity. Most experiences are themed and tell a story, whether it’s paintings from a canonical artist or a video game franchise, and transform large spaces into new worlds. Imagery is typically projected on the walls and floors, and vivid, compelling content is paramount to complete the experience.

In talking about Illuminarium, Ryan Andal, president and founder of Secret Location, points to the process that helped to inform the first experiences available at the venue. “You go after evergreen territory, broad categories. There’s a quote that says, when you’re doing something, you want it to be 80% familiar and 20% new and different. What we’re doing is so new and different that for people to enjoy it, there has to be some element of familiarity to it.

Two kids look at images of candy canes, gum drops, and gingerbread cookies projection mapped onto a wall and floor.

Almost 30 projectors were installed in Illuminarium at The Distillery District– six M 4K25 RGB pure laser projectors for the pre-show experience, and 20 Griffyn 4K35-RGB pure laser projectors in the main space.

Illuminarium at The Distillery District recently opened a new show, Winter Wonderland Spectacular, which transports guests to a winter dreamland. Coinciding with the very popular Distillery Winter Village, the new experience features Santa’s winter palace, whirling snowstorms, and glowing Winter Lights. In “Spectacular Factory: The Holiday Multiverse”, an ARTECHOUSE Studio Original, a gift factory comes alive with floating giant swinging Christmas bells, thousands of nutcrackers, thrilling train rides through wreaths, and spinning candy cane carousels. Guests can complete the holiday experience with hot cocoa, a photo opportunity with Santa or Mrs. Claus, and an “Elfie Selfie”.

The technology that works behind the scenes

There is robust and advanced technology that works behind the scenes to enable these experiences. To create the illusion of immersion, Illuminarium at The Distillery District relies on a suite of our projectors.

Immersive experiences are just that – they immerse guests in their surroundings using images, props, scents, sounds and interactivity. Most experiences are themed and tell a story, whether it’s paintings from a canonical artist or a video game franchise, and transform large spaces into new worlds.

“At Illuminarium, we are using state-of-the-art technology including the world’s most advanced RGB pure laser projection by Christie, LIDAR sensors that blanket the space with interactivity, unique digital sounds space with over 100 speakers and programming using the latest video game engines that allows guests to feel like they are inside a game or film,” says Andal. “We knew that in order to provide our visitors with experiences that felt both out of this world and realistic we would need the highest resolution technology available, and Christie is able to provide just that.”

“Our team worked closely with Illuminarium to create a solution that allows them to showcase their content in the best possible way,” says Joseph Conover, director, Immersive Entertainment/Live Event Productions, Christie. Almost 30 projectors were installed – six M 4K25 RGB pure laser projectors for the pre-show experience, and 20 Griffyn 4K35-RGB pure laser projectors in the main space. The Griffyn 4K35-RGB projectors combine for a total of 730,000 lumens - equivalent to 913 standard 60-watt lightbulbs.

Aiding in maintaining the illusion is the quiet operation of the projectors, to not distract from the show. In quiet fan mode the M 4K25 RGB operates at 46.7 dBA and the Griffyn 4K35-RGB at 44dBA. This sound level equates to the approximate noise of a residential refrigerator.  

Two people look at images of gold bells with a green and red background that are projection mapped onto a wall and floor.

Illuminarium at the Distillery District is an immersive venue that transforms into a whole new world, courtesy of breathtaking content, interactivity, and a broad suite of different technologies, including high-brightness projectors.

What’s ahead for Illuminarium?

“We are set to launch new creative IPs throughout the year as well as 19-plus experiences and creative dining series,” says Andal. “The 19-plus experience will be meticulously curated to complement Toronto’s dynamic nightlife scene. Through partnerships with local talents and producers, we’re set to deliver an exceptional and unparalleled addition to Toronto’s thriving after-dark landscape.”

Andal also sees Illuminarium as a distinctive venue for artists. “The unique immersive style of venues like Illuminarium will allow artists, digital artists in particular, to broaden what they create and bring to audiences. From a concept perspective, we can get a bit more creative with the format. Art shows, immersive fashion shows, live performances, we really want the venue to sing.”

Illuminarium has plans to expand across North America and the world - with locations currently in development in Miami, Chicago, and Macau, in addition to the Las Vegas, Toronto, and Atlanta locations.

For more information and tickets to Winter Wonderland Spectacular, visit https://www.illuminarium.com/toronto-experience/winter-wonderland-spectacular