Though it occasionally descends into bombast, Aura, a projection mapping sound–and–light show inside the Notre Dame Basilica, is quite affecting. Really, how could it not be? It uses as a backdrop one of the most magnificent spaces in North America. Sitting in a pew, while evocative synth-and-organ music swells and surgically precise lights pick out the filigreed columns, the castle-like altarpiece, the handsome statuary, and the star-studded ceiling, is a transcendent experience. It's a lesson in how sightseeing should be done: Instead of rushing through another church, participants can study the exquisite details that make up the space, guided by the artistry of the designers, who draw parallels, through lighting, between the different elements of the sanctuary. When they're not adding their own art to the space, that is. Did we need to see the church drown in a Noah-level flood? Perhaps not. But even when the spectacle veers towards the hokey, the wizardry keeps it fun. And how often, upon leaving a church, do you hear a a 10-year-old exclaim (as I did) "That was totally awesome!".

From Jason Cochran: Try to arrive a little early so you can appreciate the church's niches, where are illuminated for guests in a pre-show walk-through. Seats are not assigned, so find a place in the middle of the sanctuary but slightly behind the spiral pulpit on the left, because it and the organ behind you will be incorporated into the show, and you want to see all of it. It probably costs twice as much as it should considering its length (you'll be out 30 minutes after the posted start time), but that's a welcome sacrifice considering the funds go preserving such a superlative building. In season, book ahead online or it may be sold out.