A small town in Fife entrusts its primary school children to design its festive Christmas lights

Hark the wonky angels sing! In a 19 year long tradition (and counting) the town of Newburgh hands over the reins of its Christmas lights to its youngest inhabitants.

18 December 2020

Every year, despite even a pandemic, one thing we can count on when it comes to the holiday season, is spectacular Christmas lights. This year, one small Scottish town did something extra special for its festive display however. Instead of perfectly symmetrical illuminations of ringing bells and sumptuous wreaths, Newburgh – a town with a population of just over 2,000 residents – handed over its Christmas light designs to its primary school children.

Delightfully wonky and fresh with the creative freedom that comes hand in hand with children’s drawings, Newburgh’s display puts the joy of its youngest inhabitants centre stage. A tradition of nearly two decades, each year, the Fife town selects one primary school pupil to light up their imagination in the form of a glowing Christmas light.

In a year where festive cheer is greatly welcomed, the lights bring a chuckle of glee in their reimagining of Christmas staples. There is a lopsided turkey, a very happy reindeer with a wide brimmed smile, a cheeky penguin complete with Santa hat and last but not least, a golden haired fairy; just a handful of favourites that make it to the high street each year.

Now in its 19th year, interestingly, no one seems to remember quite how this charming tradition began. Shona Gray, head of Newburgh Action Group who organise the lights told BBC Scotland: “It might have been there was a teacher from the local school on the committee that year, but no one remembers.” The light design is chosen through an annual competition where local children can enter their drawings. The designs are then whittled down to a shortlist and sent to Blachere, the company responsible for manufacturing light displays, also entrusted with the Harrods job, not to mention Blackpool illuminations.

To mark the festive occasion, each year, town residents gather at Lamppost 15 (where the new light sits each year) to marvel at the new addition to the treasured collection. It’s a much anticipated yearly event, one that the community as well as the child designer relishes every year. Bestowing a sense of pride and tradition to the child in question, the creation will adorn the streets for many years to come. Join us in enjoying these delightful Christmassy luminescence below.

GalleryPhotography by Poppy McKenzie Smith @GTOpoppy

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Photography by Poppy McKenzie Smith @GTOpoppy

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Photography byPoppy McKenzie Smith

About the Author

Jynann Ong

Jynann joined It’s Nice That as an editorial assistant in August 2018 after graduating from The Glasgow School of Art’s Communication Design degree. In March 2019 she became a staff writer and in June 2021, she was made associate editor. She went freelance in 2022.

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