Check out our gallery of the best entries in the 4KQ Christmas Lights Competition and our chat with this year’s winner Geoff Harvey!
This year’s winner of the 4KQ Christmas Lights Competition was Geoff Harvey from Sinnamon Park with a stunning synchronised display.
Having enjoyed a career in computing, Geoff utilised his skills to create a mind-blowing lighting show.
After entering the competition for over seven years, Geoff finally took out the grand prize. “That came as a big surprise. I thought I had a chance in the synchronised lights but not as the overall winner.
“I’ve entered since 2006, but I didn’t do it last year. Previously I’ve won best synchronised lights and a second place as well once and a highly commended.”
But he has never done this to win prizes. “It originally started when the grandkids were toddlers and I’d put up a few strings of lights to impress them,” he says. “But then I moved to a house at The Gap and the house across the road had been doing lights for a long time and my few strings looked very insignificant.
“So the amount of lights began to grow and the following year I found out that you could control lights with a computer, and since I’ve always worked with computers that set a challenge. And let me tell you, it took quite some years to master.”
His tips for aspiring Christmas light display creators?
“Remember that decorating for a static display is very different to decorating for a synchronised or moving display. To get things to work well while the lights are changing, you need to decide how you want them to change and what sort of things would be effective.”
“I do all sorts of things like colour changes, chasers, shooting stars and arches that bounce back and forth. I also have little trees that can change colour and are run around the fence line.”
Oh, and you need to be good at forward planning. “With the synchronised display you have to plan ahead, and build the bits you need to achieve what you’re trying to achieve.
“The lights usually don’t come into the shops earlier enough to buy them for that year so you usually buy them at the end of the previous year or overseas, but I prefer to buy locally if I can.”
His set up schedule starts months out from Christmas too. “I usually start putting things out in the yard physically about October and it takes about six weeks to actually connect everything and make sure it’s working.”
So if you’re wanting to attempt a display as big as Geoff’s, make sure you set aside a big chunk of the year and set up a savings plan to purchase all your lights – but at least it won’t cost you much money to run.
“Everybody thinks it uses a lot more electricity than it does,” says Geoff. “My display typically runs two to four kilowatts depending on what it’s doing at any one time and that works out at about $3 night.
“Most of my lights are LED which are very efficient and bright and they don’t use a lot of power. If you go back to some of the older style lights, some of those chew up quite a bit of power.
“I’ve known people who have to put in extra power circuits in their house to be able to run their Christmas lights but I’ve never had to do that, and I don’t watch the power usage at all. The whole things runs off about four power points really.”
Despite the win, Geoff is taking a step back after this year’s competition. “It will be my last year, I’m not doing it again – and I know I said that two years ago, but I didn’t get rid of the lights; this time I’m selling the lights off at the end. I’ll keep a few for a personal display, but I won’t be entering competitions anymore.
“I’m getting older and it gets harder physically to put them up every year. And I’ve got more important things to do in my life to do with travel and relationships. My wife passed away a few years ago and I’ve been going with a new lady friend and got to make the most of things.”