While not usually considered to be necessarily in the realm of street art, Christmas light displays are most certainly an art form, and since they appear on streets all over the world, why wouldn’t they be included in the wide array of installations we call “urban art”?
To honor the Season, let’s take a little break from talking about regular street art and things like leather luggage tags, and discover the magic of Christmas Lights…
Christmas lights are a tradition that dates back centuries, to the cold, dark winter months in Europe. A burning Yule log was first recorded in Germany in 1184 AD. Christmas trees were traditionally lit with candles from the seventeenth century; this obviously posed a distinct fire hazard and candles were lit only for very short periods at a time.
The very first recorded Christmas Lights display happened in 1880. Thomas Edison, the reputed inventor of the incandescent light bulb, strung incandescent bulbs around his laboratory compound as a marketing ploy during the Festive season. The intention was that commuters on passing trains would see them and be suitable impressed. These lights were powered remotely from a generator that was situated eight miles away.
In 1882, Edward Johnson created the first Christmas tree to be illuminated by electric lights; located in Manhattan, it had eighty individual lights.
The first advertisement for Christmas tree lights appeared in 1900, and the lights were very expensive. Since then they have grown in popularity, diminished in price, and are seen worldwide in homes and on the streets every year.
Where can we see some of the best Seasonal Light displays in the world?
- Copenhagen, Denmark
The Tivoli Gardens offer an annual light show that is world class, as well as fireworks to create a true winter wonderland.
- Medellin, Columbia
This Columbian city does Christmas lights just right. The tradition of decorating the city dates back fifty years and it takes more than sixteen million lights to create the end result each year. Displays are all over the city, but particularly along La Playa Avenue and along the Medellin River.
- London, UK
The whole city, including Regent Street, is lit for Christmas, but for something special, go to Somerset House for a huge Christmas tree, ice skating, and winter magic.
- Manila, Philippines
The Philippine capital is home to Ayala Triangle Gardens. This botanic garden is lit with music-synchronized lights, providing visual splendor and Christmas hymns for a full sensory experience.
- Kobe, Japan
This Japanese town commemorates its 1995 earthquake with huge themed light shows each year called Kobe Luminary.
- New York City, USA
The Rockefeller Centre is world renowned as a Christmas destination, for its many thousands of lights, ice skating rink, and massive Christmas tree.
From All of Us at United Streets of Art, we wish you the very best of Health, Happiness and Peace for the Festive Season and the Coming Year.
See you in 2017!