It’s back! The Regions Bank Christmas display in downtown Birmingham (VIDEO & PHOTOS)

It’s back! The Regions Bank Christmas display in downtown Birmingham (VIDEO & PHOTOS)
The annual lighting began in the 1970s when the building that is now the Regions Center was shared by First National Bank of Birmingham and Southern Natural Gas. Regions Bank has kept the tradition going. Photo via Regions Bank

A beloved  Birmingham Christmas tradition returns tonight — the Regions Bank annual holiday display.

Beginning on Friday, November 26th, approximately at  5:00 p.m.,the 30 story, 390- foot Regions Center will light up the Birmingham skyline with its traditional holiday illumination.

Over the last couple months, Regions has been making sure the roughly 2,500 windows are ready to glow red, green, and white. What will you see?

  • Giant Christmas trees
  • Massive wreath
  • Huge stocking 

A 40+ year Tradition

How did the Regions Bank Christmas Display tradition begin?

“The details on how it all started have been hard to pinpoint, but the story goes that one of the executives for the Southern Natural Gas company traveled to Houston, Texas, during the holidays,” explained Michael Bianca, corporate property relationship manager for Regions Bank. “During that trip, he saw a building that had a similar ‘curtain wall’ design, and that building had a Christmas display created by lights in the windows. He came back to Birmingham and said, ‘We’ve got to do something like that here.’ And that’s what led to the Christmas display that’s been illuminating our skyline during the holidays for over 40 years.”

Not High Tech

Birmingham, Regions Center, Christmas lights, Christmas decorations, light displays, Driver's Way
Regions Center in downtown Birmingham. Photo by Jacob Blankenship for Bham Now

Even though it looks like a high tech display, the good folks at Regions are using nearly the same technology that was used in the 1970’s, according to Bianca..

“The building turned 50 years old this year, and what makes the design possible is a feature that was built into the windows before anyone ever thought of using the windows for a Christmas display,” Bianca said. “As the building was under construction, a light tube was placed above every window starting on the fifth floor, all the way to the top. The idea was to have the building displaying bright white light every evening, but the energy crisis of the ‘70s brought those plans to a halt. It was only later that the Christmas display was created, and they were able to use the lights installed above each window to create the images people see from miles away.”

Not Just the Holidays

Regions
The Regions Center was illuminated in a patriotic display (left) during the 1991 Gulf War. The building displayed the Olympic torch and rings (right) during the 1996 Summer Olympic Games. Photo via Regions Bank

Of course, displays on the Regions Center are not just for the holidays. Every spring you see images of golfers lit up on the skyscraper kicking off the countdown to the  Regions Tradition golf tournament. In the past, Regions has created a display for the 1996 Olympics Soccer Games and the Gulf War in 1991, when an American Flag and USA was on display.

It does take months to make all this happen, but it’s worth it, said Bianca.

“It’s a real honor for Regions to be part of the Birmingham skyline and to be part of the Magic City’s celebration of Christmas every year. This is our headquarters city, and we are proud to carry on this tradition.”

Got a favorite Regions Bank Christmas display story? Tell us on social media at @bhamnow

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Pat Byington
Longtime conservationist. Former Executive Director at the Alabama Environmental Council and Wild South. Publisher of the Bama Environmental News for more than 18 years. Career highlights include playing an active role in the creation of Alabama's Forever Wild program, Little River Canyon National Preserve, Dugger Mountain Wilderness, preservation of special places throughout the East through the Wilderness Society and the strengthening (making more stringent) the state of Alabama's cancer risk and mercury standards.
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