Community Stories

Illuminate your holidays this year!

December 08, 2021

There is something truly magical about all the lights that go up around Christmas time in Red Deer.

There is something truly magical about all the lights that go up around Christmas time in Red Deer. While the North Pole has a team of wise elves to map out the best gift-delivering route, Red Deer has its very own father-son duo making sure you and your family see the elaborate Christmas light displays around town!

While working for Transit with The City of Red Deer for many years, Jim Elliott met families of children with disabilities attending the Aspire special needs resource centre. Getting to know these families triggered Jim to begin a new community tradition during the holidays.

“These families have faced lots of challenges in their lives, and I wanted to do something for them,” said Elliott. That’s when he decided to rent a bus and offer them tours of the decked-out residences in Red Deer. “It just felt like the right thing to do. It’s my way of brightening Christmas for many people.”

In the following years, he repeated the initiative with clients of the Central Alberta Women’s Emergency Shelter. From there, the Christmas Light tour was born. The bus tours came to an end, but the project kept growing with each passing year.

The Christmas Light Tour has been a yearly tradition for Jim and A.J. Elliott for 18 years. Fueled by their desire to spread the holiday magic, they tour around the different Red Deer neighbourhoods in search of houses with a distinctive holiday twinkle. The tedious process takes several weeks. Jim estimates they spent an approximate 56 hours preparing the tour this year.

“We go out every night for 2 or 3 hours at a time to find all the decorated houses,” Elliott said. They then create a list of all the decorated residences and from there, they start mapping out the perfect winter tours for all to enjoy.

The Christmas Light Tour is more than a simple copy and paste of the previous year. The dynamic duo takes the time to update and revisit the maps, making sure they are optimised and that no decoration is left unseen. Jim said they were very pleased to discover that there are “so many new [decorated residences] this year.” They share their meticulous work with the community, so that residents can enjoy a self-guided tour around the best decorated streets Red Deer has to offer.

For this current edition, there are seven routes for Red Deerians to choose from. Each one can be completed in under an hour. Jim and his son made sure to include newer neighbourhoods such as Vanier Woods, Inglewood and Lancaster.

For the curious cats who want to witness la crème de la crème of the Lights Tour, A.J. has created a compilation of the most breathtaking streets of each neighbourhood.

While out enjoying one of the many Christmas Light Tours, make sure you stop by City Hall Park, Ross Street Patio and Capstone to discover beautiful displays of holiday lights and festive decorations that are sure to brighten your spirit. Share your photos of the downtown or Capstone decorations on Instagram, Facebook or Twitter, tag us and add #rdlights for a chance to win some great prizes! For more information about the many contests offered by the City of Red Deer, visit

Ready to take the family on a holly jolly ride? Here are the links to the Google MyMaps for the suggested seven routes:

  • Route A: Johnstone Crossing, Kentwood, Glendale, Normandeau, Pines, Garden Heights
  • Route B: Johnstone Park, Highland Green, Oriole Park, Oriole Park West
  • Route C: Riverside Meadows, Fairview, Capstone, West Park, Bower
  • Route D: Mountview, Morrisroe, Grandview, Michener, Waskasoo
  • Route E: Anders, Inglewood, Vanier Woods, Lancaster
  • Route F: Eastview, Clearview, Rosedale, Timberlands
  • Route G: Deer Park, Range Road 265, Parkland Gardens