SPARKLING Christmas decorations can help create a real festive atmosphere in our town and village centres.
The brightness of the displays across the streets and in shop windows help dispel the gloom of darkest winter.
And the aim of the 2012 Winter Glitterland competition is to recognise the best efforts to bring brightness to the dark nights.
Entries (Download an entry form here)will be published in the Herald Express as part of the annual Glitterland trail of the best displays in and out of town across the area.
Some businesses spend months planning their displays, just as some families do.
And this year, in recognition of their efforts, there are new classes backed by the Torbay Town Centres Company for the best Torquay and Paignton shop windows.
Ian Broadfoot, chief executive of the Town Centres Company which sponsors the competition, said: "We are delighted to be sponsoring Winter Glitterland and also the new classes for traders in Torquay and Paignton.
"We hope they will rise to the challenge of creating the best and brightest display in their town to complement the festive lights paid for by all business people in the centres, as everyone will benefit from a sparkling town centre."
One of the businesses which believe in making a bright splash with lights is the Palace Hotel in Paignton.
Holly Chown, reservation manager at the Palace Hotel, Esplanade Road, Paignton, which has won trophies in the competition, said they decorate inside as well as the exterior. We get a lot of comments from our guests on how nice the hotel looks. It is definitely worth it."
Marshall Ritchie, chairman of Glitterland judges, said: "This is the time that Torbay comes into its own. Torbay Winter Glitterland brings back the light of the summer and the community spirit to welcome visitors this festive season."