From Paris to London, city officials across Europe are limiting Christmas lighting hours, and many have switched to more energy-efficient LED lights or renewable energy sources as soaring energy prices hit consumers after the fall. Russian invasion of Ukraine.
With the Christmas holidays just around the corner, officials are faced with the dilemma of how to conserve energy in solidarity with citizens pressured by rising utility bills and inflation, while protecting public coffers.
The crisis, triggered in large part by Russia cutting off most natural gas in Europe, is spawning innovation. In the Italian mountain town of Borno, in Lombardy, cyclists on stationary bikes will power the town’s Christmas tree by powering batteries with kinetic energy. Anyone can ride, and the faster they pedal, the brighter the lights. Christmas lights will not be installed anywhere else in the city to raise awareness about energy conservation, officials said.
Also in Italy, officials in the northern city of Verona are discussing limiting lighting to just a few key shopping streets and using the savings to help families in need.
“In Verona, the atmosphere is there anyway,” said Giancarlo Peschiera, whose fur coat shop overlooks Verona’s Piazza Bra, where officials on Saturday lit a huge shooting star that arced from the Arena della amphitheater. Roman times towards the square.
The holiday will shine brightly in Germany, where the holiday season is a big boost for retailers and restaurants. Emergency cutbacks announced this fall specifically excluded religious lighting, “particularly Christmas,” even as environmental activists called for restraint.
“Many gardens look like something out of an American Christmas movie,” Environmental Action Germany complained.
In Spain, the northwestern port city of Vigo is not letting the energy crisis get in the way of its tradition of hosting the country’s most extravagant Christmas light display. Ahead of other cities, Vigo turned on the light show on November 19 in what has become an important tourist attraction.
Despite the central government urging cities to reduce lighting, this year’s installation consists of 11 million LED lights in more than 400 streets, 30 more than last year and far more than any other Spanish city. In a small contribution to energy savings, they will stay on for one less hour each day.
The lights are Mayor Abel Caballero’s pet project. “If we didn’t celebrate Christmas, [Russian President Vladimir] Putin would win,” he said.