robolights giant is part of the holiday lights display in Palm Springs.

The neighborhood is usually sedate. However at dusk during the holiday season, one corner flares into life. Towering animatronic robots whir into motion. Giant inflatables rise and over a million holiday lights flare to life. If Tim Burton stepped into this neighborhood art display I imagine he’d feel right at home. It’s the official site of the largest residential light display in the United States and created at the home of artist Kenny Irwin.

Giant bunny at robolights holiday lights display.

Robolights has been growing on the Irwin family two acre home lot since 1986 when young Kenny Irwin nailed together a giant robot. Later his room at college was strung with masses of lights. Now in his early forties, he adds new parts and pieces to the displays each year and spends months stringing millions of lights for the holiday show.

towering goofy robolights holiday lights displayThere are narrow paths and covered bridges, a variety of Santas, reindeer heads coming out of toilet bowls, reindeer-like mannequins led by a Santa in a tank, tall creatures from a vivid imagination and too many to list.

robolights mannequins holiday lights in Palm SpringsCarousels whirl, music churns and ticket booths beckon. The experience is totally unique and while some of it seems macabre, the heart of the matter is that Kenny wants to entertain.

“The general purpose of my art, and the annual art and light display, is to both counteract the negative energy in the world and gear people into positive mindset when they experience my work. Aspects of my work also are to encourage and inspire others about sustainability, space exploration and tech.” ~ Kenny Irwin

white knight robolights holiday lights He douses many of his assemblages with paint in monochrome hues. Microwaveland is a maze of screens and bulbous creatures, some parts indeed created inside microwaves. Santa’s workshop is a shrine to Kenny’s visions with every inch covered in collections of recycled, re-purposed pieces.

robolights santa's workshop holiday lightsThis season the nonprofit group has been serving hot chocolate and cookies. A volunteer accepts donations in a sink bowl.

robolights volunteer holiday lights in Palm SpringsKenny’s father condoned the endeavor from the beginning. “Going to this place is an experience. Nothing you can say, except amazing.” It may be a bit strong for young kids but Kenny sees it this way, “Most all kids never want to leave Robolights and the premise is, “It’s a why not world in a why world.” That positive message is worth exploring. With enough support from the growing crowds, Robolights will grow even brighter in the years to come.

ticket booth robolights holiday lights in Palm SpringsIf you go to see the holiday lights:

When: The holiday light is open from Thanksgiving week to the first week of January. Call for days and times at other times of the year. TEXT 1-760-774-0318 to make an appointment to see art inside the grounds year round.

2016 Update:

As of December 14th, the City of Palm Springs is allowing limited entry. Check the Facebook Page as the hours may change. ROBOLIGHTS hours daily 4-9:30 until Jan 1st. New toys and clothes for the Syrian refugees are being gathered to make their lives more joyful. Drop off booth located to the right as you enter.

Where: 1077 East Granvia Valmonte, Palm Springs

Support the effort and follow the Robolights Facebook Page

More about Kenny and his art at his website.

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