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Spain lights up for Christmas a month ahead
CHRISTMAS lights have already been switched on in all bar a few of Spain's main cities a month ahead of the date, costing millions of euros.
But this huge spending is in fact an investment, since the bright, festive appearance of the city centres encourages people to visit and shop for Christmas.
Practically all of them use LED bulbs to save energy costs and help the environment.
Madrid's lights went on last night (Friday) and the city will remain illuminated for 256 hours, until January 8 inclusive, at a cost of €2.4 million.
Málaga also switched its lights on last night, and will spend 18% more than last year - €976,000 – although this includes the famous and spectacular Light and Sound Show on the C/ Larios, now a nationwide tourist attraction.
Barcelona's lights were switched on along the Ramblas, the city's main pedestrianised and most-touristy street, in a ceremony which paid tribute to the victims of the August 17 terrorist attacks.
A total of 79 shopkeepers' and restaurateurs' associations have received grants of up to 50% of the cost of decorating their premises and the streets with Christmas lights.
The city will spend around €2m on its illuminations – which includes some of Barcelona's fountains lit up in yellow as a symbolic action in homage to the so-called 'political prisoners', the regional government removed en masse, and in support of the independence movement.
In some Catalunya towns, however, such as Cornudella (Tarragona province), no Christmas lights will go up at all, as a protest over the police actions on the day of the disputed referendum on October 1.
The Canary Islands' two provincial capital cities, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria and Santa Cruz de Tenerife, switched on their lights on Thursday, as did Palma de Mallorca, capital of the Balearic Islands, with 92 streets and squares now illuminated at a cost of €1m.
Other cities and major towns across the country – albeit only a handful – prefer to wait until December has started before turning on the lights.
Sevilla is one of these, and will switch them off on January 6, a bank holiday for 'Three Kings Day' when most Spanish children will open the bulk of their presents, either on the morning or the night before, January 5, after the Magi parades.
Valencia, Vigo, A Coruña and San Sebastián will also wait until this coming Friday or Saturday, December 1 and 2, for the big switch-on.
In the case of Valencia and San Sebastián, this will not take place until December 4.
For Valencia, which will spend €72,600 on Christmas lights, the traditional decorations in the city hall square will include a giant Christmas tree which members of the public can walk inside of, an outdoor Central Park-style ice-rink and a carousel.
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