Project Description

20 November 2020 — 3 January 2021

Your Message in Lights

Commissioned by LITMacc

Send a message to a loved one through the lights on Macclesfield’s Christmas tree displayed in multi-coloured Morse code. IDST! technical makers – Nick Young, Loz Lees and Jess Robins – helped produce Message In Lights – a quiet, peaceful and reflective point of inspiration and celebration for the people of the town.

Commissioned by


Market Place, Macclesfield, SK10 1DY

Our Concept

IDST! designed and developed a magical experience: creating a tree dotted with hundreds of lit-up messages of joy.

We aimed to inspire a sense of wonder and draw hundreds of people to take part individually in a very personal (even private) experience that they can come back to again and again. To celebrates our own messages to family, friends and loved one and our place in our wider community.

Over the time it has been up, we’ve had some beautiful messages in lights appearing on the tree: fun messages, to say hello to a loved one, to mark the end of a year, to remember.

Message In Lights was a way for people to send a personal and meaningful message without meeting or touch. In previous years, the people of Macclesfield were invited to leave messages on paper stars which were hung on the Christmas tree in Market Place. This year, due to the continuing restrictions on mass gatherings, we were asked to do it slightly differently. Within seconds of sending a message, the sender could see it glitter into action across the tree.

How it Works

When people send a text message to a special phone number, their message will be turned into Morse code and will flash on a light bulb in their chosen colour. Messages will be transmitted to the world via the same light until the tree comes down in January. Every time people text #show to the phone number, all the other lights on the tree will disappear and your light will blink their message alone. People can now send their messages to the Christmas tree by following the instructions below.


Follow these steps:
  • Create your message of no more than 60 characters including your name or your family name if you like.
  • At the end of your message (in addition to the 60 character limit) let us know which colour of the rainbow you’d like for your light by including the colour with a hashtag eg #red or #yellow etc.
  • Send your message to 07840 148462 (*texts are charged at your standard mobile rate. Please dial carefully.)
  • You’ll receive a text confirming that we’ve received your message and that it’s live on the tree going out in Morse code.
  • Every time you text #show back to 07840 148462 all the other lights on the tree will extinguish and only your message will be displayed.
  • You can send one message per phone, but you can change your message at any time. Just repeat the steps above.
Please remember that you should only leave your house for necessary journeys or exercise. We’re hoping that restrictions will be lifted on Wednesday 2 December and we can visit the Christmas tree safely again.


Musical Composition

We were really lucky to have local composer Charles Ormrod work with IDST! to create a unique musical accompaniment that would work with the tree. Nick liaised with Charles about creating music with unique and ever-changing harmonies: linked to the light with each colour matching a tone, the letters and the rhythms. 
You can listen to it here

Guides and Materials

You can find the instructions for taking part, Morse code cheatsheets as well as guides here. These have been put up around the tree as well as shared on our social media and beyond.

Message In Lights Gallery

Our crew

We are IDST!

More about us

IDST! are a group of makers, artists, techies and experimenters working together to make community artworks.

Creating artworks, performances, games and events that are playful, purposeful and people powered and celebrate community strength.

Collaborating with others, training and running experiments, workshops, and projects so people can learn and get involved and communities can own their ideas.