Berlin/Nuremberg/Stuttgart/Jena (dpa) – In the past there was not only more tinsel, but also more lights: After the failures during the corona pandemic, the Christmas market season is again in danger. Due to the tense situation on the energy markets and rising prices, German municipalities are threatened with a Christmas season with less lighting and leisure time fun than in previous years – it will be a paler festival, even if there are no major cancellations in famous Christmas cities such as Dresden, Nuremberg, Heidelberg, Münster, Aachen or Frankfurt am Main seem to be on the agenda.
Ice rinks canceled in some cities
While three months before Christmas Eve gingerbread and speculoos are already back in the supermarkets, many cities are announcing that they will put up fewer Christmas lights, switch them on less often or reduce opening hours. Ice rinks and other energy-intensive attractions are also available or have already been canceled – from Flensburg in the north to Berchtesgaden in the south.
With reference to the energy consumption, there are no skating rinks in Nuremberg, Weimar and Erfurt, for example. In Cologne, the reason given for not offering an ice rink on Ebertplatz was that this was “not justifiable” in view of the energy crisis in the 2022/23 season.
After the restrictions due to Corona, the republic will not experience a normal Advent season for the third time in a row.
In Stuttgart, the fairy lights powered by green electricity should only shine on Christmas trees for 240 instead of 450 hours, as the city reports. The town hall itself even does without lighting and the advent calendar in the windows.
Alexander Handschuh from the German Association of Towns and Municipalities emphasizes that the energy crisis depends on local conditions. “A blanket nationwide regulation would make little sense.” Christmas markets are quality of life and also an economic factor. If there is already efficient LED lighting, the savings potential is small.
Jena relies on LED technology
You can see that in Jena, for example, as the head of events at Jenakultur says. They have long since switched to LED technology, and the lighting has already been switched off at night in the past. Patio heaters have also been banned from the market for some time. “Only measures such as completely switching off the Christmas lights or banning mulled wine would still be possible,” said Daniel Illing. “But this would then come very close to a cancellation of the Christmas market.”
The spokesman for the city of Bamberg says that “there can be no lighting like in previous years”. In return, Bamberg is thinking about putting up more Christmas trees. Regensburg checks whether the lights are switched off earlier on the Advent evenings. In the Ore Mountain town of Annaberg-Buchholz, the large tree will only light up during the opening hours of the Christmas market this year. However, most of it is already LED. According to a spokeswoman, the nearby Aue-Bad Schlema has “put an end to electricity guzzlers with the Christmas lights a long time ago”.
Nuremberg emphasizes that the Christkindlesmarkt has been running with 100 percent green electricity for almost ten years, and the energy consumption of the lighting has been reduced to a minimum with LED lamps.
According to the city, the market at Munich’s Marienplatz only works with LED lighting. It is “greatly important for tourism and supports a business that has already been badly affected by the corona lockdowns,” says the spokesman for the City of Munich’s Department for Labor and Economic Affairs.
A good 20 percent less electricity is to be consumed at the Essen Christmas market. According to Essen Marketing GmbH, the lighting of the market stalls will be switched on much later than in previous years. In Mainz, they want to implement the decision agreed with the state government to use 15 percent less energy .
Advent illuminations on Kurfürstendamm in danger
In Berlin, the large Advent illuminations on shopping streets such as Kurfürstendamm are in danger. The Senate decided not to co-finance these lights. The state government called for “significant savings” to be achieved.
With a view of Ku’damm and Tauentzienstraße, where KaDeWe is located, the district mayor of Charlottenburg-Wilmersdorf, Kirstin Bauch (Greens), criticizes that the Christmas lights are important there for tourism – and therefore actually a state and not a district matter. They now want to find sponsors to ensure at least “basic lighting”. The Mitte district reports something similar with regard to the Unter den Linden boulevard and Friedrichstrasse.
Tübingen’s Lord Mayor Boris Palmer, on the other hand, says: “The focus of the discussion on the Christmas lights is purely symbolic and conceals the inactivity of the large consumers.” But electricity is also to be saved in the Swabian university town. According to the city, the “big” Christmas lights on roof gables and with illuminated baubles in the trees are out.
In Lübeck, market operators and the municipality are developing a package of measures: “This includes, among other things, not heating outdoor catering in the area around the Christmas market.” The Christmas lights are switched off at midnight. In Kiel, a spokeswoman says fewer traders are coming and the markets are getting smaller. “The increased energy prices and the higher labor costs will also mean that it will be more expensive at the Christmas markets.”
The Upper Bavarian town of Peiting relies on a photovoltaic system including a battery for the lighting for its central Christmas tree. Mayor Peter Ostenrieder (CSU) says: “No matter what happens on the electricity market, our Christmas tree lights up independently.”
© dpa-infocom, dpa:220922-99-854192/4