"It gives us hope." Berlin switches on Christmas lights amid energy crisis

Berlin’s most popular shopping street switched on its Christmas lights on Tuesday, even as a deepening energy crisis in Europe threatened to derail the holiday tradition.

The Kurfürstendamm Avenue twinkles with 140,000 LED lights strung across almost 600 trees, according to Klaus-Jürgen Meier, the chairman of the Berlin lobby group City.

"For us, it is a tradition that this lighting has existed for many decades.

“That's why it's all the 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 an energy-saving mission for months, since the cost of natural gas skyrocketed in the wake of Russia’s 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 enacted energy-saving measures that include lowering the temperature in government buildings and turning off the lights at major monuments after 10 pm.

After the Senate said it would not fund the capital’s holiday display, a group of donors and sponsors saved the Ku’damm’s iconic Christmas lights.

But not without compromise: LED lights were chosen for their energy efficiency and it was decided that the lights would be switched off early, at 10 pm instead of midnight.

Meier says the new light display will use up to 30 per cent less energy than in previous years.

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