The Ladysmith Festival of Lights started in 1987, as the brainchild of a man named Bill Fitzpatrick. Times were tough in Ladysmith in the late 80s, with multiple shops closing along Main Street and a general sense of despair within the community. When Bill suggested a Christmas festival, residents thought the idea was absurd! He pushed the commercial aspect of it, telling people that this would be an opportunity to put Ladysmith on the map, bringing more visitors to town. He argued that it would also encourage residents to shop locally, reinvigorating their economy in the wintertime.
And so, with a little convincing, the first Festival of Lights was born! 500 people attended the Light Up in the first year, and the parade was added in the years after. Bill was right about how this Christmas festival would affect the community – now, people come from all over the West Coast to experience the magic, and upwards of 25,000 people attend the Light Up each year.
We began working with the Ladysmith Festival of Lights in 2015 with the intention of helping them to transition from using incandescent lights to using commercial grade LED lights. Their two main concerns with the incandescents that they’d been using since the beginning were 1) lack of durability and 2) power consumption. Hundreds of glass bulbs were broken each year during installation and removal, and the electricity bill at the end of each Christmas season was thousands of dollars. With the introduction of our durable and highly efficient LEDs, we were able to solve both problems. Now, they barely have to purchase any replacements, and their electricity bill has gone down by 90%.
Each year since 2015, we have added more LEDs with products such as our G30 Super Bright Globe Lights and our 5mm Mini Lights. We have become their sole provider of commercial grade LED lights, and it is an absolute pleasure doing business with them. The board is filled with lovely, passionate people, and it also feels pretty special to be part of an evolution such as this that is good for the planet!
The Festival of Lights board often purchases their lights directly from us, but when it comes to the Chuck Perrin Tree, the FestiLight team is brought in to decorate the 100 ft Sequoia at the north end of town. We put almost every colour we carry in the tree except yellow and orange, for a total of 3500 lights!! With a lighted “star burst” on top, we are confident that you could see the Chuck Perrin Tree from space. The tree is named after the Festival of Lights’ first major donor, who was a key player in getting the event off the ground back in 1987. He passed away a number of years ago, and the tree was named in his honour!
Below is a video about the tree put together by the Nanaimo Airport Authority. They kindly sponsored the transition from incandescent lights to LEDs on the Chuck Perrin Tree. A few of our staff and one of our pretty red vans are featured throughout, and you can also see board president Duck Patterson remarking at just how durable our lights are:
2017 Marked the 30th Anniversary of the Ladysmith Festival of Lights, and the event is more popular than ever. There are multiple corporate sponsors, as well as many private donors whose support is instrumental in keeping the festival going. Two years ago, a board member started a campaign called “Adopt a Tree”, where donors could essentially purchase strings for a specific tree on Main Street, and have their name put on a sign at the bottom of the tree. It was hugely successful, and has allowed the board to change the incandescent lights to LEDs on almost every tree along the boulevard.
While a core team of people oversee fundraising, designing, purchasing, and other organizational details, the Ladysmith Festival of Lights would not be possible without a large group of volunteers who help with everything from “bulbing” the strings, to installing and removing the lights. Installation Day and Removal Day are town-wide events that get the whole community involved.
Much of the work can just be done on ladders, but some of it requires bucket trucks or a crane. Several local companies donate their services in kind, which is a massive help in cutting costs for the organization.
The Ladysmith Festival of Lights is an institution on Vancouver Island, and we are so glad to be involved with such a wonderful community of people. The festival is entirely volunteer run, with thousands of hours being dedicated to the project each year. If you would like to get involved in any way, head to www.ladysmithfol.com for more info. Here’s to the next 30 years!