Berlin’s most popular shopping street turned on its Christmas lights on Tuesday, even as Europe’s deepening energy crisis threatened to disrupt the holiday tradition.
The Kurfürstendamm avenue sparkles with 140,000 LED lights strung on nearly 600 trees, according to Klaus-Jürgen Meier, president of the Berlin lobby group City.
“It is a tradition for us that this lighting has existed for several decades.
“That’s why it’s even more important, especially in this difficult time of crisis, that it shines again and gives us hope,” said Meier.
The German capital has been on a mission to save energy for months, since the price of natural gas skyrocketed after the Russian invasion of Ukraine.
Before the war, Germany imported most of its natural gas from Russia, but Moscow turned off the tap in response to Western sanctions.
In September, Berlin’s Senate passed energy-saving measures that include lowering the temperature in government buildings and turning off lights at major monuments after 10 p.m.
After the Senate said it would not fund the capital’s holiday display, a group of donors and sponsors saved the iconic Ku’damma Christmas lights.
But not without compromises: LED lights were chosen for their energy efficiency and it was decided that the lights would be turned off early, at 10 pm instead of midnight.
Meier says the new light display will use up to 30 percent less energy than previous years.
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