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Lights off: Swiss towns make Christmas energy savings

People gather to watch the Christmas illumination "Lucy" as it is switched on in the Bahnhofstrasse in Zurich, on November 24 © Keystone / Michael Buholzer

Many Swiss towns and cities will use energy more sparingly for their Christmas lights and markets, according to reports. But they won’t do without the “Christmas magic” entirely.

This content was published on November 27, 2022 - 13:43
Keystone-SDA/ilj

The move comes amid calls by the government for people and businesses to "save, save, save” when it comes to energy amid possible winter shortages due to the war in Ukraine.

In Zurich, the traditional “Lucy” Christmas lights in the city’s prestigious Bahnhofstrasse shopping street – which were officially illuminated on November 24 – will be switched on from dusk to 10pm, so 3.5 hours less per day than previously.

In a statementExternal link, the organisers said that they wanted to “set an example” in this time of threatened electricity shortages, even if energy savings were in this case low.

Other towns and cities around the countries have said they would switch off the Christmas lights overnight or find alternatives. Lucerne is for example using 500 candle lanterns in the city.

There are effects on other traditional Advent activities as well: in the Swiss capital Bern, the traditional ice rink in front of the parliament building will this year be made out of hard plastic rather than “the energy-intensive” real ice, the Bern city authorities saidExternal link.

Christmas markets

In Geneva’s Jardin anglais, the Christmas chalets are being powered by biogas, and in Lausanne, the organisers of the Bô Noël, the city’s Christmas markets, have stated that they want to reduce energy use by 20%.

The busy Montreux Christmas market as seen on November 24 © Keystone / Jean-christophe Bott

The Montreux Christmas Market, one of the most well-known in French-speaking Switzerland, has also indicated that it wants to be “as responsible as possible” to act as “an example” for its half a million visitors, its director Yves Cornaro told Keystone-ATS. It is aiming to save 20% - 30% energy compared with last year.

But Cornaro nevertheless said that the event should keep its “magic”. A Christmas market completely without lights was for him, “not possible”.

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