Jump to content

1930s Christmas lights

pete LD

Recommended Posts


I’m looking for a way of recreating 1930s Christmas lights!

It is for the UK tour of Annie which im sure most people have worked on at some point over the last 20 years!

In the final scene with the large Christmas tree the director wants more Christmas lights “draped” over the stair case (big practical staircase if you are lucky enough to have never worked on the show).

I'm fairly certain in his mind he has pea lights hung everywhere as he wants it to look lavish as it is a billionaires mansion. I'm with him on that but then pea lights wouldn’t have been around in 1933!

Our production manager thinks there wouldn’t be Christmas lights at all!

After a few seconds of googling I came up with thisSo I know they would have been around. I'm after a modern equivalent so I can at least put the period idea forward. I was thinking festoon and pigmy lamps but I think it will look too much like a building site working light!

So any ideas? Or are we best to go with the artistic licence and use pea lights?



Link to comment
Share on other sites

Personally, I would go artistic licence every time... 99.99% or more of the audience are not going to be entering Mastermind, specialist subject "Christmas Tree Lights of the USA 1900 - 1950." Therwas a similar subject about traffic light colours earlier... I honestly believe that the audiences imagination is far superior to "Reality" People will see a Christmas Tree, with lots of pretty lights, and think "Oh Isn't that Christmas tree pretty?" - Which is surely exactly what you want them to think...


Obviously anything that chases or flashes is a no-no, and they will need to be big and bright enough to be visible...


Just my 2P (But then I am no professional)



Link to comment
Share on other sites

The Christmas lights linked to are intended for USA mains and consisted of 7 lamps each of a few watts at 16 volts in series on the mains which was 110 volts in those days in the USA.

Very similar lights were sold in the UK, these consisted of 12 lamps each of 20 volts 3 watts, in series on UK 240 volt mains.


AFAIK, these are no longer made, but a number of suppliers sell similar looking products, often of 20 or more lamps in series.

To look at least roughly right, you will need incandescent Christmas lights, with large bulbs, each at least 2 watts, and with solid coloured finish.

Smaller lamps, LED lamps, clear coloured lamps, or lamps less than about 2 watts each wont look right.


It is likely that suitable lights will be mains voltage, and I would therefore consider use of an RCD if they will be in reach.





Link to comment
Share on other sites

Prewar the garlands would be real foliage or made from paper, so there would not be garlands with lights for the obvious fire risk. Prewar the lights sere fewer in number but more interestingly shaped, bells and Chinese lanterns were popular. The globe would be opal and there would be coloured paint.
Link to comment
Share on other sites

A little off-topic, but I was concerned about finding EIGHTIES style Xmas lights for Billy Elliot a couple of months back! Couldn't find anything that wasn't LED in all the usual places!



Link to comment
Share on other sites


This topic is now archived and is closed to further replies.

  • Create New...

Important Information

We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue.