Malaga's spectacular Christmas illuminations attract a huge number of visitors to the city. / sur

Malaga unhappy about plans to delay switch-on of the city's famous Christmas lights until three weeks later than usual

The Junta de Andalucía wants councils to save energy and reduce light pollution but local businesses say they would lose out because far fewer people would visit and spend less than normal

JUAN CANO Malaga

Malaga city council and representatives of the hospitality sector have spoken out against plans by the Junta de Andalucía to delay the switching-on of Christmas illuminations until 8 December this year, in order to save energy. This would be three weeks later than usual in the city.

The move is part of regulations which are currently being drawn up by the regional government to reduce light pollution. With regard to Christmas lights the draft text says the ideal would be to reduce the use of these to the festive period – 22 December to 6 January – but councils do have the right to switch them on earlier “although not before 8 December”. It also says the illuminations should be switched off during the night except on specific days established by each council.

Teresa Porras, the Councillor for Festivals, said Malaga would comply with the regulation if it came into force but she believes it would be very bad for local business because a great many people visit the city specifically to see the Christmas lights, especially around the two public holidays on 6 and 8 December, and spend money in shops, bars and restaurants while they are there.

“It would be bad for employment, retail and the hospitality sector,” she said, and she also pointed out that Malaga uses LED lighting and the cost for the electricity is around 8,000 euros for the 45 days the illuminations are switched on. Malaga spends around 1.2 million euros on its Christmas lights each year.