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Light Research @ MMU

Fabulous, Massive Christmas lights display in Australia

A family in Canberra have achieved a record for the number of Christmas lights displayed on their house, a staggering 502,165. This heroic achievement has produced a fabulous festive display, a brilliant array of colour, animation and jollity. Some may criticise, accusing the family of bad taste or excess, but here at Light Research, we say ‘Nonsense!’, and celebrate this exhibition of festive cheer. What’s not to love?

Christmas lights in Australia, 2013

November 26th, 2013 - 17:03pm

The Lights of Lobethal

The Lights of Lobethalis a Christmas festival taking place in December for over 60 years in the idylic South Australian township of Lobethal, near Adelaide. Around 700 private homes and businesses are festooned with traditional Christmas lighting and themes, an event which attracts an estimated 250,000 visitors.Visitors are encouraged to follow light trails around the town or to take special bus tours.slideshows_about05

The roots of the festival can be traced to 19th century German heritage and reflects traditional Christian values associated with Christmas. The Lights of Lobethal, therefore, are seen as the town’s gift to the community and the world. Since 1994, however, the lights have been subject to formal organisation and corporate sponsorship, establishing a problematical distance from the community led events of previous days.


Winchester, H.P.M.a, Rofe, M.W.b. (2005) Christmas in the ‘Valley of Praise’: Intersections of the rural idyll, heritage and community in Lobethal, South Australia. Journal of Rural Studies, 21(3), 265-279.

May 1st, 2013 - 12:58pm

Celebration in Lights, Newport

Newport (Virginia) hosts an annual Celebration of Lights festival which ties together Thanksgiving , Christmas and New Year.  Unsually the light display is a drive-through experience located in News Park.  The park is transformed through a display of 800,000 individual lights organised over a 2 mile stretch of roadway featuring over 300 individual display pieces, including 70 “animated holiday and fanciful scences”, 43 arches, and three miles of rope lighting.  A 300ft long animated tunnel of lights forms the centrepiece of the 20th anniversary of the festival, which since 1993 has attracted over 2million visitors.  Enjoy civilwarcat’s drive through video below:

May 1st, 2013 - 08:11am

Christmas Lights

There seemed to be fewer Christmas lights adorning the houses of Manchester this year. Perhaps this is due to austerity or perhaps they are becoming less fashionable.


In the UK, the spectacular array of these gaudy illuminations, typically red, gold and green, often seemingly thrown up in an ad hoc fashion, are strongly associated with expressions of class and taste, though this may be different in other parts of the world. Finding these displays jolly and seasonal, we researched what motivated people in Manchester and Sheffield to put them up each year. Before carrying out these interviews though, we were struck by the vicious criticisms to which they were subject on websites, and in articles and letters in national and local newspapers.

Critics point to what they regard as the selfish disregard for neighbours, the lack of environmental awareness, and above all, their bad taste. These supposed failings were often allied to assumptions about other negative characteristics, including laziness, scrounging benefit, and excessive breeding, and often included references to that most recent signifier of working class horror, the ‘chav’. Yet following our interviews with the displayers, it was clear that they are not concerned with the display of ‘good taste’ but the production of a festive atmosphere for the neighbourhood. Generously, they want to promote communal and family conviviality, and seasonal good cheer. At many displays, there are invitations to contribute to charitable causes. For us, the vitriol expressed by the critics cannot recognise how such forms of lighting can create shared enjoyment and a sense of place. Sadly, an obsession with what constitutes ‘good taste’ prevents them seeing the brightness, colour, silliness and fun that such displays bring.

February 11th, 2013 - 13:57pm