PRAGUE (Reuters) – Thousands of people poured into Prague’s medieval Old Town Square at the weekend for the lighting of a 25-metre (80-foot) Christmas tree and the reopening of the annual market after a two-year COVID-19 shutdown, but the energy crisis meant fewer lights than usual.
The market, which is popular with Czechs and foreign tourists alike thanks to its mulled wine, sausages, sweets and gifts, was set up with more energy-efficient bulbs to both save money and send a seasonal message of energy efficiency.
“We have decided to cut back on the numbers of illuminated ornaments in the streets and we use the most modern LED lighting, and that is true for the Christmas tree as well,” said Prague City Council member Jan Chabr.
The city has decided to not turn the lights on all day long as in the past but only from 4 p.m. until midnight.
“We don’t want to take away from people the festive atmosphere of Christmas and New Year … but we are aware that energy should not be wasted.”
Ivo Midrla, running a stand selling mead and fried potato chips, said the two coronavirus years made a big dent in his business.
“We are glad we are making business,” he said. “But it will certainly not make up for the two years.”
(Reporting by Jiri Skacel; Writing by Jan Lopatka; Editing by Conor Humphries)