Illuminating the holidays

When winter rolls around, there are a number of things that can be expected to return year after year: peppermint mochas in red, corrugated-cardboard cups, 24-hour Christmas radio stations and spirited light displays cropping up all around town.

Daniel Cowan, who runs the Lower Mainland chapter of Festilight, a holiday light installation service, provides lighting design, installation, and take-down of hundreds of residential homes as well as businesses during the Christmas season.

Set aside the fact that energy bills may double – or even triple – over the month of December, and you can see that the real joy in the holidays is the added frosting to each home and business you pass.

Fiber-optic icicles hang from eaves, Christmas trees glimmer behind fake snowfrosted window panes, and holly-wrapped wreaths light up with red and green bulbs on residential entrance ways. Some might even attempt tricks that evoke the image of a hapless Chevy Chase hanging off of his home in an attempt to beat out his neighbours in an unspoken holiday light competition.

Those that aren’t independently decorating with a specific goal in mind – such as winning a Christmas light display competition – who still want to add a little glitz to their neighbourhood can contract holiday lighting companies. For a few bucks, people can get their homes glammedup, and now without the National Lampoon-style danger that comes from hanging Christmas lights with just a ladder and a staple gun.

"The holiday season can be a pretty stressful time… people run out of time to be able to do a light display so people should know that there is a service like ours that exists," says Cowan.

The business allows people to purchase the lights that they want from the company, and then have them installed by the light designers. When customers are ready to take their decorations down for the season, Festilight packs them up, labels them, and stores them until the next year. The professional lighting company imports specific lights that are designed for our wetter climate, and the company warranties their product for at least two seasons.

Recently, Festilight has designed and installed displays for the Burnaby Village Museum, the Shangri-La Hotel and even Victoria’s Empress Hotel. Cowan says, however, that the larger part of his clientele are still residential home owners who either don’t have the time to decorate themselves, or don’t want to put themselves at unnecessary risk of harm.

"More and more people are realizing that they don’t want to go up a ladder in the wintertime," Cowan says. "We can do it faster and we can do it, in all cases, a lot safer than they can do it, as well as doing a higher quality job."

But that higher quality job comes at the cost of a pretty penny.

"Generally, there’s a minimum of $300. An average home might be around $1,000, but honestly we’ve done homes this year that have been up $10,000 so far. It can vary tremendously," reveals Cowan.

Visit for a quote or to book your own light installation.

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