Festive Carolina Forest in 2019

by Emily Smith

No matter what’s being celebrated during the holiday season, twinkling lights are sure to inspire a magical feeling for all. 

Light shows have grown in popularity over the past few years, with determined and creative individuals now able to transform their home into a dazzling wonderland. Below are some tips to help you get started creating your own display. 

It can be helpful to plan your light installation vision with the aid of some pen and paper in advance, to avoid hanging lights that may be broken, too short, or too long. 

Take measurements of your home and the area you want to cover. That will provide a starting point to figure out the type of lights you wish to use and how many will be needed. Each unit of lights is referred to as a “channel” and it’s been recommended for beginners to start with 16-32 channels. 

Many light displays require a control system and the applicable computer software. Many brands offer basic controllers to start beginners off simply, and can even come pre-programmed, as well as offer different levels of user-engagement complexity.   

For more personalized control, which also allows for greater customization, there are kits and individual pieces like digital I/O (input/output) boards. Be sure to keep in mind that both pre-made and custom-built systems require high voltage, so take all precautions with your adapters and power source. 

Multiple programs exist to help create light shows, typically breaking down the chosen songs into seconds, making it easier to assign light patterns to the beat. Some companies sell the software along with the hardware needed in one convenient package.

Last but certainly not least, some impressive speakers tie everything together. If your HOA does not have specific sound level limitations for your neighborhood, please keep in mind Horry County ordinances do, particularly between the hours of 11pm and 7am. 

Many residents have discovered that creating their own neighborhood show takes months of planning, plus trial and error. This also makes post-season a good time to prepare for next year. Stringed Christmas lights are typically still available to buy after the holidays end, when seasonal products go on clearance. It’s the ideal time to stock up and purchase additional lights as needed, perhaps even a little extra.

For those who would rather abstain from bedecking their own house, the Grand Strand has a number of lights shows open to the public throughout the month of December. 

The beloved Nights of a Thousand Candles at Brookgreen Gardens in Murrells Inlet begins Thursday, December 5.  Each weekend before Christmas, thousands of lights and candles shimmer in the night, while guests can enjoy holiday music and warm festive drinks. 

In North Myrtle Beach, The Great Christmas Light Show runs throughout the entire month of December. Over a mile of lights to drive through, and Santa’s Village to play in, means this attraction is as fun as it is beautiful. 

Beyond these two popular, festive events, there will be ceremonies and parades throughout the area. Whether you decide to create your own festival of lights, or prefer to admire the ingenuity of another, this season remains the most magical for a reason. 

The Coastal Insider

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