Earth Hour takes place between 8:30 and 9:30pm in Toronto this Saturday, March 29th. While the event has only marginal environmental benefit on a practical scale -- last year the city reduced energy consumption by about 7 per cent -- the main point of turning the lights out is to get people thinking about climate change and the ways in which they might play a part in reducing its rapid onset. Well, that and it's pretty cool to head to a spot with a good skyline view to see the lights go down at some of our most iconic buildings.
This year, you can expect to see the lights go out at the CN Tower (as usual), the Royal York Hotel (including the sign), the exterior of the Air Canada Centre (inside the Leafs will be battling for their playoff lives), and various buildings owned by Oxford Properties, amongst others who have decided to keep it a surprise until tomorrow evening. Perhaps more importantly, homes across the city will be lit by candlelight as individuals and families mark the occasion. This collective power-down has, to a great degree, become the true spirit of the event more than the corporate displays, which often feel somewhat hollow.
Sitting around and chatting by candlelight and disconnecting for an hour is therapeutic for more than just the environment. As is the case with unplanned blackouts, this is an opportunity to turn off the television and interact with other human beings, even if these people are just the boring old people you happen to live with (I'm a romantic).
If you're looking to get out of your house to celebrate Earth Hour in a group environment, there's a number of options as well. While not as event-heavy as Earth Day (which is due in April), the whole by-darkness of night quality to what's planned for Saturday has a certain cachet.
Lights Out with Mill Street Brewery
Mill Street has teamed up with the WWF to host a citywide candlelight, acoustic concert series in over 60 venues across Toronto. Although many of the bands lack name recognition, the concept event sounds both intimate and apropos. Highlights include By Divine Right at the Drake and Big Rude Jake at the Mill Street Brew Pub.
Riverside Earth Hour Celebrations
The Riverside BIA has organized a number of events to mark Earth Hour, including lantern-making, candlelight yoga, an appearance from WWF Canada CEO David Miller, and an outdoor concert.
Also of note
Roncy Earth Hour Candlelight Walk
Grab your candles and go for a group walk down Roncesvalles during the power-down. This is about as basic an event as they come, but fosters community engagement under the guise of environmental awareness, so what's not to like? Starts at 8:20pm.
Humber River Walk
If it's darkness you want during Earth Hour, this walk along the Humber River is your best bet. Mostly unpolluted by streetlights, the 6th annual version of this event hosted by Green 13 looks like a cluster of fireflies from a distance. Cool, right?
Got an Earth Hour event you'd like featured? Let us know in the comments.
Lead photo by ~EvidencE~
by Derek Flack via blogTO