Lights out - Europe cancels Xmas lights

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You may need to screw your eyes up tight to see Santa this year if you're living in Southern Europe. Cash-strapped councils in Spain, Portugal, Italy and Greece will be dimming the Christmas lights - or even turning them off - in order to save much needed cash.

Given the amount of light pollution around in most European cities, that might actually not be a bad thing. It could even catch on.


Bring out the candles

The Daily Mail claims Madrid City council has gone down the energy-saving route and is using 600,000 fewer lightbulbs this year, saving itself £400,000 in the process. Athens too has radically turned down the dimmer on much of the city centre. Its municipal Xmas outlay will be one-tenth of what it spent injecting seasonal sparkle into the city centre last year.

However, retailers won't be happy if their customers are groping from one murky low-light barrios to another - especially if the eco-friendly bulbs have been dimmed. The chance, then, to decorate streets with non-illuminated Christmas decorations? It could be rather nice. Muted. Discreet, old-time lighting, and environmentally friendly too.

Less = more

More capital cities should follow the example of Athens and Madrid. London's Christmas lights have been toned down a bit even if the Arthur Christmas theme around Oxford Circus, based on the new 3D fantasy comedy, is a commercial incursion.

In fact, the editor of El Pais, a large Spanish newspaper says there is so much light pollution in Western Europe that Melichior, Casper and Balthasar would have real problems finding any star to follow. He's right. And here's the evidence, from a science blog, to support it. Shield your eyes.

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