The warm glow of twinkling lights and rows of quaint miniature houses helps create the cosy festive atmosphere of the modern Christmas village and the added detail of figurines and accessories draws the admirer in but to really bring your village scene to life, you need to add some sounds and motion. Nothing does this more effectively than running water. Real running water.
The addition of water to a Christmas village poses a number of problems and potential hazards. Containment is obviously vital, with plenty of electrical items in close proximity. For this reason, the vast majority of water features created for Christmas and miniature villages are of the artificial variety. There are no shortage of items such as ocean mats, streams, ponds etc and while these can be attractive and useful additions to your village, they do not produce the same effect that can be achieved with the movement and sound of real running water.
The value of what a trickle of real water can add to the realism and overall ambience of a village scene has not been lost on the Christmas village manufacturers. Lemax, in particular, has made some notable attempts to bring real running water to their product range. In 1998, Lemax introduced their Lemax Village Waterfall With Trees model. This ambitious design was a massive 27 inches (68.6cm) wide, 18 inches (45.7cm) deep and 10 inches (25.4cm) high. It was a display base on which a lighted building or other accessories could be places and included 18 bristle pine trees. A pump was incorporated within the mountain and when the unit was filled and switched on, water would cascade down the mountain, circulate along the stream and back under the mountain.
This followed on from Lemax’s 1997 attempt to achieve the real flowing water effect with their Lemax Rocky Mountain Falls. This smaller but still substantial unit was a more upright style model with a trough at the base from where the water was pumped and then allowed to flow back down the mountainside and into the base. Both these models can now be quite hard to come by in working order and good condition but they do crop up from time to time. If you would like to obtain one, please contact us to make use of our free finders service.
It was probably no coincidence that these two Lemax models came hot on the heels of rival brand Department 56’s water feature model, Village Waterfall, which was introduced in December 1996.
Quite similar to Lemax’s Rocky Mountain Falls in construction but much simpler in design, Dept. 56’s Village Waterfall was a very basic mountain unit with a trough for the water in the bottom, with an internal pump that carried the water to the top of the unit which would then flow back down.
It wouldn’t be long before Department 56 would have another attempt at introducing a real flowing water, water feature and this was achieved with the far more inventive 2000 model, Department 56 Mill Falls Working Waterfall. This was quite different from anything we have seen so far. This new design had a rockier appearance and the water base was painted blue to produce more of a flowing stream or river effect. This model is also populated with trees of differing styles and is abundant with wildlife, from a bird in a tree to a bear and her cubs fishing at the base of the falls.
This design was capitalised on with the later introduction in 2001 of Department 56’s Mountain Creek Waterfall. Here, we see the addition of a wooden bridge and the wildlife theme again features heavily. This model was accompanied by further accessories that made it possible to create an entire stream or river scene.
Of course, the Mountain Creek accessory range are artificial or still water features but if you have one flowing water model, particularly if it produces a trickling water sound, it can achieve the effect of bringing the still water features to life too. Not to be out-done, Lemax also introduced their own still water extendable Mill Stream range of landscaping accessories.
Some of the earlier models can be difficult to come by these days and the Christmas village brands more recently seem to be a little reluctant to get involved with real water models so options for introducing this effect can be somewhat limited. However, still widely available is the 2003 Lemax model, Oak Creek Grist Mill and this is perhaps our favourite option of all.
Lemax Oak Creek Grist Mill is a Lemax Sights and Sounds model from the Harvest Crossing Series. This substantial unit (measures 29 x 32 x 27cm) is more than just another village building, this is an entire scene all in one. The mill sits on a pond and features a boathouse and a man fishing from a row boat. Animated flock of geese circles above while water flows from the mill chute to turn the wheel. In our opinion, this charming model is currently the best option available for adding a flowing water effect to your Christmas village display.
Another way to achieve the flowing water effect with a modern, widely available model would be to make use of the Lemax Lighted Village Square Fountain. First produced in 2001 but still in production, this unit produces an attractive lighted and realistic fountain display and comes complete with a water resistant mat to guard against potential splashing.
In 2016, Lemax introduced a new working fountain, the Lemax Modular Plaza Fountain. This grand design stands at an imposing 18cm high and the traditional lion heads look fabulous. Unlike the earlier fountain model which has water jets, this version allows water to trickle down in two stages which looks realistic and is likely to create less splash.