The History of Boise Christmas Lights

Seasons Greetings, Idaho!

My name is William, and I'm excited to announce this new website, 208christmas.com. It's my hope this website will serve as a one-stop-shop for everything Christmas related in Idaho. The Gem State is one of the fastest-growing states in the country - more people are moving to our state now than ever before!

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I've always been a fan of Christmas for as long as I've lived, but this love of everything jolly really came to a head in 2015. I had some good family friends coming to visit the Treasure Valley, and I wanted to take some time to see some amazing Christmas light displays with them. I found it was a little difficult to find the best Christmas light displays, even by a simple Google search. Search results would show many different websites, forums, and blog posts - some of which were old and had outdated listings.

I decided to compile all this information into one, easy-to-use Google map. I initially just shared it with friends on Facebook, but then I decided to share it to the Boise subreddit, r/Boise. (PS: yeah, the cat's out of the bag, everyone knows my reddit username now, big whoop... tl;dr I watch Live PD, am a Latter-day Saint, and like to be involved in my community, there ya go.)

I noticed that several dozen people had viewed the link in just a few hours A few redditors commented their thanks and gave me a few addresses to add, which was fantastic! I appreciated any and all input I could get.

Little did I know how quickly this would explode, literally, overnight.

The next morning, I was sitting in class at Boise State, and decided to check Facebook (hey, don't pretend you didn't do that too). A friend of mine had shared a blog post from a local radio station, titled "Treasure Valley Christmas Light Map". And I thought, oh that's funny, I just created one of those! Let's see what they have.

Screenshot of 103.5 KISS FM's blog post featuring a link to my light map. Woo!

Well, turns out they had linked the map I had created! Multiple redditors from r/Boise had shared the link on Facebook, and it worked its way up to some of the DJ's at KISS FM via social media. Eventually the other Townsquare media stations picked up the map and put it on their websites and social media too!

That's when the map started getting thousands of views each day. And that's when I knew that the entire Treasure Valley was counting on little old me to show them where the best Christmas light displays in Boise were. I created a Facebook page for this project.

The map continued to be featured yearly on local radio stations and eventually on all four major TV stations.

Screenshot from a 2016 KTVB article featuring my map. In 2017, they started using their own map, but have gone back to using my map listings for the 2018 season.

Screenshot of a 2016 Facebook post from KBOI 2, with a link to my map. Sweet!


But up until that point, I was pretty unknown to the people using the map. I honestly didn't mind because I didn't want to be the center of attention. However, Michael Sevren at KIVI 6 On Your Side/FOX 9 news contacted me for my first in-person interview, and I gladly obliged. My map and story were featured in both 2016 and 2017.


Mama, look at me, I'm on TV! Screenshot from the 2016 6 On Your Side/FOX 9 story.

You can view the whole story from 6 On Your Side/FOX 9 here:

In 2017, I was contacted by Frankie Barnhill from Boise State Public Radio to do an interview. Frankie did a fantastic job with her story for BSPR. It's a great article that summarizes the origins of this light map, and how I get things started and maintain it every year. I encourage you to read the article here: http://www.boisestatepublicradio.org/post/your-2017-map-brightest-christmas-lights-around-treasure-valley#stream/0

Screenshot from Frankie Barnhill's Boise State Public Radio article. Noice!

Also in 2017, Nicole Blanchard from the Idaho Statesman reached out to me for an interview. This is something I didn't expect, because the Idaho Statesman had always published their own Christmas Light listings, and it was well-known in the Treasure Valley. Many folks had been patiently waiting for the Idaho Statesman to publish their yearly light map directory, but it looks like for the first time, the Idaho Statesman was looking to use my map on their website instead. I was completely honored.

Side note: I have to apologize for delaying Nicole's interview because I was just about to head to the Las Vegas Bowl to watch my beloved Boise State Broncos thump the crap out of the Oregon Ducks... and to stuff my face at the Aria buffet, White Castle, and Raising Canes.

Once I returned from Vegas, Nicole interviewed me and wrote an amazing article that summarizes this whole origin story, and how I actually work on getting the light map up and running. I encourage you to read it here: https://www.idahostatesman.com/news/local/article190968779.html


Screenshot from the 2017 Idaho Statesman article on my light map. This was tons of fun!

After the Idaho Statesman article, the map started gaining a whole new level of traction. The map had thousands of views every single day! It goes to show how many people were still looking to the Statesman for a list of Christmas light displays. Our Facebook page hit 1000 likes on Christmas Day, and I'm not gonna lie, it was one of the proudest moments of my life.

My sister, Gracie, helped inspire me to start an Instagram account: @BoiseChristmasLights. I also started a Twitter account: @BoiseXmasLights. The Facebook page still has the most content and interaction, but our IG and Twitter accounts just make us a couple steps closer to world domination. Or something like that.

One of the cool parts of the 2017 season was coming across a fellow Christmas light lover/social media guy. Jason runs the Pacific Northwest Christmas Lights Facebook page and had been publishing lists and tagging the Boise Christmas Lights page in some posts. We gave each others pages shout outs and we've since been able to bounce ideas off each other.

Through Jason and the PacNW page, I was able to find out about and attend the Pacific NW Christmas Light Addiction Problem meetup in April 2018.

One of the many presentations at PacNW CLAP 2018. I learned so much about the inner workings of light shows!

Our really cool venue for PacNW CLAP 2018!

In 2018, we started highlighting Halloween Displays after I saw a post on a Facebook group I'm part of:


I hope you like spiders and clowns as much as these guys do. Holy crap!

And it turns out several of our local light show creators/decorators decked out their homes for Halloween as well! So I brought the BCL map out of its hibernation early for a special Halloween season of listings. 

Christmas Season 2018 was wildly successful for us! We hit the 1,500 and 2,000 likes mark on our Facebook page, which were both fantastic milestones. Our blog got thousands of clicks. Our Facebook Live videos were a fan favorite - some went viral and had thousands of views! I splurged and bought a Galaxy S9 on Black Friday just so I could get better pictures of Christmas Lights. It was just an awesome season! We cannot wait to do it all again for the 2019 season.

We'll continue to be Boise and the Treasure Valley's Christmas Light Authority. Stay tuned to this blog, and our social media channels for more information!

Blog/Website: 208christmas.com