Computer Controlled Lights Set To Music

 

Back in 2001 when we moved to Southport we decorated the garden with a few festoons of coloured lights for Christmas, these were very simple, static lights using coloured household bulbs - they could have been stolen from Blackpool (they weren't though).

 

We were one of the first families in Southport to take Christmas lighting seriously, there were no cheap strings of LED lights back then so it was a big undertaking to set something up.

 

In the intervening years we've put up the odd string on lights, some ropelight figures and blowmolds but it's been a bit hit and miss.

 

Christmas 2017 we designed and built our second proper display using over 7000 pixels. These are smart LED lights each of which contains red, green and blue LEDs which can be individually controlled by bespoke hardware and software. This means if you have 100 lights in a string you can light the 45th one green and so on. The possibilites are endless.....

 

We had the megatree, two small minitrees, leaping arches, candy canes, window surrounds, spheres, ground rails, singing faces, Christmas stocking etc etc. Everything went well with no technical hitches and thanks to everyone,s generosity we raised over £520 for Freshfields Animal rescue, a big improvement over the previous year.

 

For Christmas 2018 we had a new, huge 7m high pixel tree (much better than the one in the town centre!) with 4408 lights, more than the total in our first show, two new smaller trees, a large matrix measuring 2m x 1m with almost 3000 lights plus a smaller matrix above the front door. We also added some smart floodlights on the tree and along the drive. As we needed extra space, Peter and Chris kindly allowed us to expand into their front garden.

 

Donations to Freshfields reached £1160 thanks to your generousity and the support of Sandgrounder Radio, Astrid Smith and students of The So Talented Academy of Music and Performing Arts.

 

Halloween 2019 was an absolute knockout show, we gave out 280 hot dogs and over 15kg of sweets, this was our first 'proper' Halloween show with lights synchronised to music, Sidney Road was packed with revellers over the two hours the show ran. We had bats, tombstones, black cats, spooky eyes all shrouded in smoke with some fire mixed in too.

 

Christmas 2019 saw us expand even further with props in Peter and Chris' garden next door to us. Work was ongoing through the year, right from the point when the display came down from 2018. Four new controller boxes, large snowflakes, better candy canes and perimeter lights joined the show plus a second matrix bringing the total count to over 23,000 lights with 20 songs sequenced and ready to go including very popular film themes such as The Greatest Showman, Harry Potter, Star Wars etc. For the first time this year we held our Christmas Party where guests could choose their favourite sequence to be shown on the display. The highlight of the season was Granada Reports running a live outside broadcast from the display, presenters Paul Crone and Kerrie Gosney hosted the show - what a night!

 

Sponship for the running and maintenance of the lights was generously funded by a group of Slimming World consultants from the Southport and Formby area was confirmed, led by Chris Chubbs they kindly provided free food at our Lighting Up Party and Christmas Party. This was fantastic news as it meant we could spend more of our limited resources on improving the lightshow.

 

We're pleased to announce that we raised £1577.30 from our 2019 lightshows, beating our target of £1500 and of course raising the stakes for 2021.....

 

We couldn't have done this without the help of our friends Debby, Gina, Jayne, Brian, Ed, Jonathan, Katy, Sue & Taylor this is such a big undertaking we need all the help we can get!

 

Planning is underway for 2021 right now!

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© Stephen Henshall