Travel

Banff Gondola launches immersive “Nightrise” experience

Experience combines lights, music, and Stoney Nakoda storytelling to showcase Sulphur Mountain like never before

  • Dec 06, 2021
  • 321 words
  • 2 minutes
Nightrise at the Banff Gondola is a nighttime multimedia experience that unfolds on the eight-minute ride up Sulphur Mountain and throughout four levels of indoor and outdoor spaces on the summit. (Photo: Nightrise at the Banff Gondola)
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It’s a journey inspired by the magic of the Rocky Mountains and powered by the energy of reconciliation. Kirsten Ryder, training and development director for the Stoney Nakoda Nation, calls it “reconcili-action.”

Nightrise, which launched on December 2 at the Banff Gondola in Banff, Alta., is a multimedia nighttime experience created by the Stoney Nakoda Nation in partnership with the tech-meets-art wizards at Montreal’s Moment Factory. It begins aboard the gondola on its eight-minute journey up Sulphur Mountain and centres around four levels of outdoor and indoor experiences on the observation decks and exhibition spaces at the Sulphur Mountain summit.

“The darkness lets you tune in to see beyond the familiar,” says Ryder, who describes Nightrise as a community effort to which members of the Stoney Nakoda Nation lent their prayers, expertise and guidance, allowing Moment Factory to bring together light, music and storytelling in a way that showcases both the magic of Sulphur Mountain and the Stoney Nakoda people’s connections to this land. “We are telling the world who we are as a people in our own way — our own voices,” says Ryder.

Inside, visitors are surrounded by a whirlwind of “snow” as they gaze out of floor-to-ceiling windows at the mountain outside. (Photo: Sarah Brown/Can Geo Travel)
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As the gondola begins its ascent, the lights dim and the soundtrack begins, mainly in English but with many words and phrases in Stoney:

“There are stories in these mountains
A place of gathering, of sanctuary, for so many
And especially, we, the Îethkabi, the Stoney Nakoda
Tonight, we honor these mountains
And those who have called them home since time immemorial.”

As the gondola slows to a stop at the summit, there is a final instruction: “Up here, there is no right way to explore. Just let your senses guide you.” It’s a beautiful encapsulation of how best to savour the Nightrise experience.

Nightrise runs until March 12, 2022. Tickets can be purchased on the Banff Gondola website.

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