Let There Be Light!

Updated: Nov 15, 2021

✦ Remember there's always light at the end of the tunnel


Celebrating the Festival of Lights all around the world


Make no bones about it, it’s been a desperately dark and glum year for all of us. COVID-19 has dominated everything and everyone, affecting the way we live and impacting us all in ways we arguably do not even fully comprehend yet.


However, we are nearing the time of year where celebrations abound and we all have room for cheer. This year more than ever before it seems to be more than mere coincidence that the range of festivals taking place globally at this time of the year have one thing in common: celebrating light. Light denotes goodness, positivity, hope and rebirth and it therefore seems apt that after all the doom and gloom of the last year, we can convene and celebrate light as a reminder of brighter days ahead.


But what of these festivals of light are celebrated in all four corners of our world? Here we take a deeper dive into a selection and find out more as to what makes them such special occasions.


It’s Christmas!


Light and Christmas go hand in hand. When we think of the festive period, we immediately conjure up visions of Christmas trees adorned in lights, of houses decked out in impressive light configurations and dazzling light shows in our cities and town squares where shops carry spectacular displays.


Christmas trees were originally brought into houses by Christians in Germany and decorated with candles to symbolise and celebrate Jesus Christ being the light of the world. The custom has grown over the years, with increasingly elaborate electric lighting replacing candles, and is now common in countries all over the globe.


Christmas tree with candles celebrated in Germany

In certain neighbourhoods in certain countries things can get rather competitive with houses striving to out-do one another in their quest to have the best decorated house on the street, something that can often result in outrageous set pieces witnessed!


One town in Australia renowned for its Christmas lighting displays is South Australia’s Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills. The impressive displays draw crowds from all around as people journey to witness first hand the sterling work the residents have undertaken.


‘Awe-inspiring!’


Cities all around the world have become famous for their Christmas light displays and related celebrations but arguably none quite has the iconic romance of New York. The lighting of the Christmas tree lights at Rockefeller Center in New York City is regarded as signifying the start of the festive holidays for New Yorkers and is very much an iconic event. The 77-foot-tall Norway spruce at Rockefeller Center is wrapped with a whopping 30,000 multi-coloured LED lights strung on five miles of wire decorated with some 45,000 lights and is truly a sight to behold! Coupled with the dazzling lighting throughout Manhattan’s long avenues and streets and the world-famous window displays in the likes of Saks Fifth Avenue, Macy’s and Bloomingdale’s make Christmas in New York a truly magical experience.


If in New York, you can also celebrate Hanukkah in front of the Plaza Hotel on Fifth Avenue and 59th Street which boasts the world’s largest menorah: a 32-foot-high, two-ton, gold-colored steel structure. Hanukkah is a Jewish festival commemorating the recovery of Jerusalem that starts in late November or early December and lasts for eight days and nights. Dating back over 2,000 years, it is also referred to as the Festival of Lights. Families light one candle on the first day of the festival after sundown, two on the second day (and so on) during the eight day period, while reciting prayers and singing songs.


Hopping over the border into Canada, there is also a festival of lights celebration that coincides with Christmas at Niagara Falls. Known as the Winter Festival of Lights, it runs from mid-November until the end of December and, as the country’s largest lights festival, attracts over a million visitors a year. Leveraging the awe-inspiring falls, the festival adds strobe lighting, projected images and dramatic music to illuminate a 5km area which leaves visitors marvelling.


‘Canopy of light and colour’


London is another city that truly comes alive with light during the festive period. All the famous landmarks such as Buckingham Palace, the House of Commons and Big Ben and the London Eye are adorned with spectacular lights that really enhance the festive spirit. Kew Gardens is another popular destination where 60,000 lights sparkle in a mile-long trail, and a light installation of 1,700 swaying flowers and a roaring fire garden are joined by singing Christmas trees! The Gardens’ iconic Palm House and pond are lit by a coloured light show while festive songs play in the background.


Further afield in the UK the likes of Blenheim Palace really get into the festive spirit with an expansive light show within its grounds – they even have a workshop in the lake’s boathouse where Santa Claus and his elves have set up!


The Festival of Light and Sound at the Eden Project in the country’s south-western region of Cornwall provides a spectacular Christmas experience as lasers create a canopy of light and colour, music plays and all manner of festive activities are available for the family to enjoy.


Triumph of light over dark


Unrelated to the festive season but equally renowned for its celebration of light is Diwali or Deepavali.