Holiday Lights: Chris Birkett's Winter Wonderland

Categories: Fun

​It's the holiday season, which means lights are everywhere: On your neighbor's house, decorating the local bar, and on buildings of downtown Phoenix. During the buildup to Christmas, Jackalope Ranch will be running the numbers on some of the best and brightest light displays around the Valley.

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Photos by Benjamin Leatherman
The colorful assortment of Christmas decorations that adorn the North Scottsdale residence of Chris Birkett each year (which the 36-year-old wedding DJ has dubbed "Winter Wonderland") isn't so much a holiday display as it is a snow-covered, multimedia extravaganza. 

Utilizing computerized light shows that are set to music and dialogue from movies including Edward Scissorhands, an ongoing series of choreographed blinking, glowing, and flashing takes place several times every hour. And it all builds up to an epic conclusion where the music reaches a crescendo and three air jets blast faux snow into the air.

Birkett, who also decks out his home for Halloween each year, has been creating light displays for 25 years now and says that this season's efforts are his "biggest and best yet," featuring a ginormous Disney-inspired holiday castle sitting atop the roof of his house while a sea of green, red, and white lights glow in the front yard and include the message "Believe in Magic."

The Numbers:

Strands and lights: An estimated 2,500 strands are used to create Winter Wonderland, which total around 150,000 lights.

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Inflatables: None, although his next door neighbor has several, including an inflatable snowman, carousel, and Santa Claus.

Other decorations: In addition to all the illuminated action in the front yard, Birkett is busy inishing up numerous displays along a path that will wind through his side and backyard. Opening to the public this weekend, it will include wooden Nutcracker men and icebergs floating in his pool, as well as Misfit Toys and other characters from the classic Rankin-Bass Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer Christmas special. 

The estimated electric bill: Birkett says he pays around $100 to power the display (which has cost him more than $100,000 over the years to construct) since it's around "70 percent" green-friendly LED lights.

Why do you decorate? "It's one of my favorite holidays of the year. I've been doing this in one form or another since I was growing up. It started at my grandma's house back when when I was a teenager with only 2,000 lights and has gotten bigger and bigger each year."

Chris Birkett's Winter Wonderland is located at 8414 East Valley Vista Drive in Scottsdale. Hours are from 6-10 p.m. nightly through December 31. Admission is free but donations are accepted.

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