Ah, Christmas. That lovely time of the year when the country takes a second to catch its breath and eat itself into a turkey-induced coma. A time when most of us are unfettered from the daily grind of 9AM starts and endless emails; a time to close your eyes and get the first eight-hour sleep you’ve had in months.
Except – what’s that? Your family’s next-door neighbour has rigged a 10,000 megawatt display right opposite your window, and Rudolph’s red nose is beaming into your bedroom with all the urgency of a fire engine on its way to extinguish a house fire.
The UK takes twinkly decorations very, very seriously. In 2020, sales of Christmas lights more than tripled as early as November of that year. Entire streets compete for the biggest, brightest display. Local councils pay C-list celebrities to do their annual town centre switch-on (and who can forget Lindsay Lohan versus Kettering Council, the greatest festive feud of them all?).
December is a time of giving, but it’s also a time of neon displays, gigantic blow-up snowmen and your parents realising that they accidentally moved to “Christmas Street” after downsizing, and now must commit several hundred pounds a year to keep up the local ambience or risk getting evils in the local Aldi for the rest of their lives.
But who are the people behind these illuminations? Who are these yuletide heroes who willingly rinse their electricity bills for the year to spread a little dazzling good cheer? To find out, Manchester-based VICE photographer Chris Bethell photographed these guiding lights of Christmas joy next to their display.