Canberra’s Old Bus Depot Markets are celebrating Christmas with a variety of brand new stallholders,…
One giant Santa gnome, two four-metre reindeers, over 60,000 lights and counting…there’s one Christmas display you need to experience before Santa comes to town.
Lighting up the streets of the southside with three stunning displays, the epic Christmas Lights for MS showcase is back to make life merry and bright for light lovers everywhere.
Starting with a few strands when they were young boys, lifelong friends Ben Walker and James Crowther have always loved Christmas lights, inspiring them to create the monster displays that have graced Ruthven Street and Stacy Street in Gowrie for years.
Grabbing the attention of Christmas lovers all over Canberra, in 2017 the duo quickly realised they had a platform to do something good for a cause close to their hearts: multiple sclerosis.
“My grandmother was diagnosed with MS some time ago,” explains Ben. “That formed part of the reason why we decided to fundraise for MS Australia as well as the fact that the amount of awareness that was out there when we started was a lot less than there is now.”
“We’d always helped each other when we were younger, setting up lights at each other’s houses and we decided we both wanted to do something, we decided we wanted to do it together,” adds James.
In the last four years, Ben and James have raised a total of $15,000 for MS Australia but now the 19-year-olds are aiming higher, inviting the popular Lights on Eaglemont display in Condor to join in on the fun.
Planning to make Christmas Lights for MS a Canberra-wide event in the future, Ben and James are excited to welcome the display of animated lights.
“We want to slowly grow this into something that anyone can join,” says James.
“So this year, we’re trialling out another set of Christmas light displays in Canberra… And then hopefully in future years, we can just have anyone who does lights if they’d like to join.”
With themed sections found in each of the displays, they explain visitors can expect to see beloved Christmas characters come to life among thousands of lights.
“My display is all solar powered,” says Ben. “But I’ve got a four-meter-tall reindeer and a four meter tall Christmas tree…There’s a reindeer highway section with some moving reindeers and then there’s some characters as well throughout the display and a nativity off to the side.”
At James’ display, he also promises Christmas characters and a staircase that leads to a stunning canopy of lights.
“At my house I’ve got a huge side staircase you can walk up and I’ve got a little walk in display…It’s very interactive.” says James.
In addition to the dazzling displays, Ben and James are also holding a Christmas raffle with nearly $2,500 in prizes up for grabs, including a signed Canberra Raiders 2020 Indigenous Jersey and a family general admission pass to the National Dinosaur Museum.
Drawn at 10am on Boxing Day, all proceeds go to MS Australia to help ensure that people living with the disease receive the vital support they need to live well and guarantee that no one faces MS alone.
“It’s great to be able to get the awareness out there and raise vital funds for MS research,” says Ben.
Running until Christmas Day, Ben and James hope to see some new faces in the Christmas Lights for MS crowds as they aim to make the nights merry and bright before Santa comes to town.
“Lots of people comment on the fact that it’s nice to see young people out doing their little bit for the community,” says Ben.
“We love chatting to everyone that comes through…If people would like to buy raffle tickets or donate online they can, otherwise just pop past and say G’day.”
Fore information about the displays visit the Christmas Lights for MS Facebook page.