It’s December. On the quiet residential streets off Cambridge’s Mill Road, fairy lights twinkle in the windows.
So far, so ordinary.
Look a little closer, though, and you’ll see that these fairy lights frame festive scenes: nine ladies – their skirts delicate paper snowflakes – dancing; children ice-skating, snow swirling around them; a scene from The Nutcracker with the Mouse King holding his sword aloft; reindeer flying above King’s College Chapel.
Some are so colourful they could give Joseph’s Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat a run for its money; others are simple yet striking. All have brought a smile to my face.
How did this tradition come about?
Back in 2016, Cavendish Road resident Liz Knox held a street party to get to know her neighbours. It was a roaring success and quickly became an annual tradition (though, for obvious reasons, it didn’t take place this year). Two years later, Liz had the idea of a street advent calendar. Participating houses would be given a number from 1 to 24, and each day in December a new advent window would be revealed.
Liz’s idea has since spread to other streets in the area, and on some it has proven so popular that there are more houses participating than there are days in advent. (On these streets, some numbers appear more than once and, more often than not, there’s an extra window on Christmas Day.)
Here’s a selection of my favourites:
A belated Merry Christmas (or Joyeux Noël) to you all.