Alnwick volunteers have Christmas on their minds already as they work to deliver the town's famous light display

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Most are familiar with Alnwick’s famous display of Christmas lights, but what you may not know is that these lights are created, repaired and put up by a group of independent volunteers reliant on funding and goodwill.

The town’s illuminations have previously been voted among the top ten best displays in the country by Country Life Magazine but they take seven months of preparation and are the work of around 20 volunteers.

With the help of funding from Alnwick Lions, Alnwick Round Table, Alnwick Town Council and other local businesses, clubs, charities and individuals, the Christmas Lights Committee begin to prepare for the big November switch on in May and work on repairing broken displays and start on new requests every Thursday until October.

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Kevin Nicholson, chairman of the group and a volunteer of 30 years, said: “We're limited to what we can do but we try, and we do get through as many as we can. When anybody requests anything, as long as we've got the okay here from the owners of the properties, we'll then talk to whoever it is that wants a display put up.

The Alnwick Christmas Lights Committee have started their preparations to deliver the town's display.The Alnwick Christmas Lights Committee have started their preparations to deliver the town's display.
The Alnwick Christmas Lights Committee have started their preparations to deliver the town's display.

"It’s very military. It's all organised, and hopefully everything goes to plan.”

The lights are kept at their very own Christmas workshop in Denwick, where they have around seven requests to fulfil this year, around 150 displays to test and repair if needed and an additional estimate of 3,500 bulbs to test.

Vice chairman and volunteer of six years, Ian Fenwick, said: “It's quite a big job but Warren Access kindly donate the hoist, which is a great help and a great saving to us because every penny counts when we're all volunteers.

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“We get a lot of good feedback from it and there's a lot of people coming to the town to see them being switched on, not just from Alnwick, but people come from different parts of the country to see it and it's always bringing more revenue to the shops in the town as well.

Each of the lights are tried and tested months before the big switch on.Each of the lights are tried and tested months before the big switch on.
Each of the lights are tried and tested months before the big switch on.

Alnwick has one of the most famous and original displays in the country and attracts thousands of people because of it. What started off as a few strings of lights in the trees soon became a dedicated group of volunteers in 1990. As they increased their expertise, the range of ingenious displays expanded.

Within a few years, the team were using rope light to make their own displays, the first of which was The Snowman, who still waves to everyone every Christmas from the Northumberland Hall.

Ian added: "It's a good thing to be involved with. The guys are all getting on a bit so it's always nice to get one or two new faces and some younger ones to send up the ladder instead of sending the old ones all the time but it's really good fun and I wouldn't have it any other way.

"We're going from strength to strength. It's just trying to get the money forward to keep them going.”

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