Fish Hoek Christmas lights display bigger and better

The canopy built by Matthew Haines is covered in Christmas lights transforming the garden into a magical place.

The Haines family of 3 Lady Grey Street are spreading the festive cheer again this year with their Christmas lights display.

For the past six years, Matthew Haines and his wife, Emily, have been decorating their Fish Hoek house with Christmas lights, and each year the display is “bigger and better”.

The display changes every year, and more lights are added.

In 2019, there were 90 000 lights, and in 2020 there were 105 000 (“Lighting up Fish Hoek,” December 23, 2020).

In 2021, there were 150 000 lights, and last year, Mr Haines added LED roof lights, which he had brought back from America earlier that year, making the light count just over 200 000 (“No Grinches, please, say Christmas-light family,” Echo December 15, 2022).

This year, according to Ms Haines, there are 230 000 lights.

Ms Haines said it took her husband almost a month to complete the display this year. It includes a hand-built canopy of PVC pipes to offer protection from the wind.

“The horrible wind storm we had mid-November broke it in half, and Matt rebuilt it without skipping a beat, which added about a full week to the setup, but the display feels like you are inside a gingerbread house. It’s super intimate,” she said.

Originally from California, America, Mr Haines has loved Christmas lights since he was a boy.

He said that while some of the lights were LEDs he did not want to replace all the lights with LEDs.

“My childhood memory of Christmas is bright, colourful lights, and replacing all the lights with LEDs will take away from that special brightness you want to experience during Christmas.”

Every year he does the display all by himself with the occasional help from the couple’s children.

Ms Haines said that this year their eldest son, Aiden, deserved a “huge shout out” for helping his father put the canopy back together after the wind broke it.

Traditionally, the Haines family would ask visitors for donations, which they then donated to a charity of their choice each year.

However, this year, Ms Haines said, due to rising electricity costs and the PVC structure they had to replace, donations would go towards the cost of the electricity bill as, unlike last year, they had no sponsor for the bill.

The couple also hosted their very first Christmas mini-market this year on Saturday December 16 where visitors did some last-minute Christmas shopping and enjoyed some freshly baked cookies while enjoying the Christmas lights.

Ms Haines said it was tradition for the lights to be turned on December 1 every year – her birthday.

The Christmas lights will be displayed from 8pm to 10pm from Sunday to Thursday and from 8pm to 11pm on Friday and Saturday until Sunday, December 31 just past midnight for the last time before being taken down.

Ms Haines said her husband would usually start taking down the lights around January 5 and it took him about a week.

She said that she wanted to remind visitors to be courteous and not block their neighbours’ driveways and not to hoot late at night for the lights to be turned back on when they are off.

She asked visitors to respect the fact that their house is tobacco-free and anyone caught smoking on the premises would be asked to leave.

She appealed to visitors to not touch the displays as they are fragile and get hot and not to pass any of the barriers as walking pathways are marked clearly.

The verge of the Haines family home at 3 Lady Grey Street, Fish Hoek.
It is not difficult to find the Haines family home in the dark.
Due to rising electricity costs and a canopy Matthew Haines had to replace, donations this year will go towards the Haines’s electricity bill instead of a local charity.
Matthew Haines in his garden of lights.