Nothing says Christmas like Pentatonix covering Daft Punk.


It's music - part of the music Ottawa’s Mark Bell has used in his hi-tech, sequenced-to-the-music outdoor Christmas lights display. For the past four years Bell has been setting up countless lights and, using computer software, getting them to flash and pulsate to the beat while speakers play the music outside. “I think my wife might describe me as a bit of a maniac when it comes to the lighting,” he says.

You’ve might have seen examples of this new style of Christmas lighting on YouTube. It started with a few houses in the United States. But now the technology is becoming more accessible to average consumers. The necessary equipment can be found on websites like And more people like Mark Bell are starting to use it in Ottawa. “I think each year we can probably expect a few more to come aboard,” says Bell.

That doesn’t impress old-school “static” Christmas light decorators like Peter Abercrombie. He is one of the original residents of Ottawa’s Taffy Lane – one of the most-decorated streets in the Capital. “Not a fan. Not a fan at all,” Abercrombie says of this new trend.

The obvious sticking point is the music. It’s fine if only one house in the area is using it. But what if next-door neighbours want to create their own shows? Many people, like Mark Bell, turn the music off after a while and broadcast the music on an FM frequency, but what about pedestrians who don’t have a radio?

Like any new technology, sequenced musical light shows are going to have to find their place in the world.

Here are some of the places you can find them in and around Ottawa:

253 Markland Crescent, Ottawa

38 Bedale Drive, Ottawa

15 Rickey Place, Ottawa

Prime Place, Carleton Place

Old Highway 17, near Pembroke