Christmas lights bring welcome festive cheer to England lockdown

From Cambridgeshire to Liverpool to Doncaster, the decorations are going up already

If there was ever a year to switch on the Christmas lights a little earlier, or make them a touch more extravagant, 2020 is it.

People across England are putting up their festive displays weeks earlier than usual to bring some much-needed Christmas cheer to a second national lockdown.

A retired couple in Cambridgeshire “plodded on” through the pandemic and turned their home into a dazzling Santa’s grotto featuring megawatt snowmen, reindeer and an inflatable Father Christmas.

Helen and John Attlesey have decorated their house in Soham every year for almost a decade to raise money for three charities that helped their grandson Jacob recover from a serious form of epilepsy.

The couple began putting up lights at the beginning of September to ensure their display was ready to be switched on last week.

“We started with a few lights nine years ago and every year we’ve added more and more,” Helen Attlesey told the PA news agency. “People come from all over to admire the display, they love it, it makes them happy, it’s really become a tradition.

“But it is a shame that this year we had to switch on the lights without a gathering to watch, as we’ve done in the past, but we just plodded on through to make sure we could bring a smile to some faces.”

Asked how many lights they had used, she said: “Too many to count – hundreds.”

Paul Fenning outside his home covered in Christmas lights in Doncaster
Paul Fenning outside his home in Doncaster: ‘I felt I had to get it up early to bring some joy while we’re all stuck in lockdown.’ Photograph: Danny Lawson/PA

In Doncaster, Paul Fenning, 30, themed his decorations around classic seasonal stories of the Grinch and the Nightmare Before Christmas. Fenning, a gas meter company manager, said he put the display up early to “bring some joy” to people affected by the pandemic.

“I felt I had to get it up early to bring some joy while we’re all stuck in lockdown. Families love to see everything, it’s like a mini winter wonderland,” he said.

Meanwhile, people are said to have travelled miles to see a street nicknamed “the most festive street in Liverpool”, where residents have put up more than 35,000 bulbs to turn it into a mini Blackpool illuminations.

Frank McKenna, 42, said the residents of Peasefield Road in Dovecot had all chipped in to have a party, but when lockdown was announced they put the money towards Christmas lights. “We had a little bit of a traffic jam last night, there were that many cars,” he told the Liverpool Echo.


Josh Halliday

The GuardianTramp

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