Nunney in finals to win £10k in Christmas lights

Carols in the Castle
Carols in the Castle (Photo: John Webb)

Visit Nunney has secured a place in the finals of the 2016 Blachere Christmas Lights competition, with £1,000 in lights already guaranteed.

Carols in the Castle
The annual Carols in the Castle at Nunney Castle is always hugely popular. (Photo: John Webb)
The exterior of Harrods in London is lit by 12,000 bulbs every night.

Nunney Castle is often said to have been based on the design of the Bastille in Paris, but now our village and the French capital have something else in common too.

Thanks to Visit Nunney’s place in the finals, our village’s Christmas lights display will be transformed by the same experts responsible for Christmas magic on the Effel Tower and Champs Elysées each year.

The Revive & Thrive competition, sponsored by Blachere Illumination, considers the economic and social impact of the festive shopping period and Christmas lights on an area.

Blachere Group is Europe’s leading designer and supplier of lighting equipment and Christmas lights. The firm is responsible for major lighting displays in Paris, London, Rome, Vienna, Moscow, Dubai and countless UK towns and cities.

The competition is organised by Revive & Thrive, an organisation for “everybody passionate about place” to share best practice and learn from what other places are doing. Visit Nunney is a member.

Blachere’s Christmas lights displays at Eurodisney: inspiration for Nunney Castle too?

Size and budget

All entrants were asked to describe the benefit to their town or city of having Christmas lights in its centre.

All finalists are guaranteed to leave with a minimum of £1,000 worth of lights and could win a £2,000 second prize or better still the main £10,000 prize.

The first prize last year went to St Leonard’s in East Sussex, with Gravesham in second place and third prize went to neighbouring Hastings.

Mark Barnes, MD and Founder of Revive & Thrive Ltd said, “Like last year, we’ve seen a real mix of applicants from around the UK. It proves that size and budget of a place doesn’t always guarantee success. It’s all about the people who live in our communities and places who make the difference.”

Switching on ceremony

Nunney Street Market & Fayre
Nunney Street Market & Fayre 2016
Nunney Christmas
Nunney traditionally has a Christmas tree with lights in the Market Place.

Nunney has a very active community life, with hugely successful events throughout the year including Nunney Street Market & Fayre, the Easter Sunday Bonnet Parade & Duck Race and Carols in the Castle.

As a community, we’re clearly passionate about community events. We know how to organise them and we know how to market them.

But although Santa arrives traditionally on his enormous reindeer-drawn sleigh in early December, we distinctly lack the Christmas light displays to make an event out of a switching on ceremony.

Blachere’s competition is an ideal opportunity for Nunney because the firm’s consultants not only specialise in outstanding Christmas light displays, but also have decades of experience in lighting up public buildings.

Lighting up Nunney Castle at set times of the year from dusk until 10pm has long been an ambition that has simply been financially out of reach – until now, potentially.

christmas lights
Nunney (left) and Paris: before and after the competition?


The next stage in the competition is for the finalists to present their applications to judges and delegates at the Revive & Thrive Annual Conference and Exhibition in Colchester on 29 and 30 September.

Visit Nunney’s place in the finals means that Nunney has already beaten scores of fulltime, professional regeneration teams working for towns and councils across the UK. Last year’s contest received over 60 entries.

The winning finalists coming to present at the Revive & Thrive Conference are:

  • Appledore thanks to Northam Town Council
  • Bognor Regis thanks to Bognor Regis Town Council
  • Eastleigh thanks to Eastleigh Borough Council
  • Heswall District thanks to Heswall District & Business Association
  • Ilfracombe thanks to The Combe Christmas Committee
  • Kidsgrove thanks to Go Kidsgrove
  • Liskeard thanks to Liskeard Lights Up
  • Newent thanks to Newent Town Council
  • Nunney thanks to Visit Nunney
  • Rye thanks to Christmas in Rye
  • Southwater thanks to Southwater Parish Council
  • Weymouth thanks to Weymouth BID Ltd
  • Whitchurch thanks to Whitchurch Town Council

The judging panel will be made up of representatives of Blachere Illumination and Revive & Thrive as well as independent experts on regeneration and branding.

The competition has a clear remit. In order to win our presentation will need to demonstrate a strong understanding of how our proposals will attract visitors who will generate jobs and generate income as well as benefit local residents.

That sets clear limits for what ideas are likely to win, but it also offers a fantastic creative opportunity for our community.

Frozen peas

The 1998 Christmas lights display in Regent Street.

The Blachere Christmas Lights competition is the only contest of its kind to focus on the value of Christmas lights displays to local hotels, shops and restaurants.

Faced with budget cuts, many towns and villages have tried for years to cut the costs of Christmas lights displays.

Sometimes this had led to truly bizarre displays paid for by corporate sponsors. In 1998 London’s Oxford Street saw Christmas lights without snow, angels or Santas.

_227237_birds_eye_150Instead there were big illuminated signs promoting Bird’s Eye frozen peas. Regent Street in the same year had big lights all the way down reading ‘Tis the season to be tango’d’ – promoting a fizzy drink.

Sally Humphreys of the Oxford Street Association told the BBC at the time that without Birds Eye agreeing to sponsor the lights at the last minute it would have been dark in central London.

Similarly, in Newcastle Christmas came courtesy of Fairy Liquid, in Manchester it was Renault and in Glasgow it was Coca-Cola.

Rev. Percy Clough as Father Christmas
Rev. Percy Clough as Father Christmas

What would you do?

Nunney Christmas Tree Festival.
Nunney has a Christmas Tree Festival every other year.

We at Visit Nunney feel very privileged to have won professional lighting to add to the Christmas cheer in our village.

We strongly believe that this prize money – from a fantastic £1,000 already guaranteed to a potential £10,000 – should benefit the whole community – but how?

We already work closely with members of Nunney Parish Council, Nunney Community Association and other stakeholders on plans to make every penny of prize money count for our local economy and community.

But before we present our proposal to the judges at the end of this month, we’d love to have your thoughts on Christmas in Nunney and what you would do with the prize money.

Merry Christmas
Nunney certainly has Christmassy appeal.

The prize money is based on catalogue value and is purely for the lights, not including installation, trees or electricity. We can’t spend it on anything other than Christmas lights – not even bus shelters.

In Nunney, the Parish Council and Nunney Community Association currently cover the costs of Christmas decorations.

Big Christmas trees are expensive and need to be secured to the ground to prevent them blowing over. After years of successful street fairs the NCA could potentially provide some matched funding for such costs.

The High Street and Church Street are very obviously not our equivalent of the Champs Elysées. Milk lorries and tractors zoom up and down them, tearing down bunting in summer. Big expensive displays are vulnerable too.

So where would you spend £10,000 in Christmas lights and on what? How can we make the most of this fantastic opportunity for residents, visitors and the local economy?

You can email us your thoughts using our contact form.

For more information on Blachere’s range of Christmas lighting, please visit