Malaga City Council is studying the possibility of delaying the switch-on of its famous Christmas lights until 2 December. This would put back the official start of the festive season in the city by a week and follows the political furore over the need to save energy.
SUR has learnt that the city hall is also considering the option of reducing the number of hours that the lights remain on in order to save energy. Until last year, the lights were on until 2am on weekdays and until 6am at weekends. The option proposed would be to light the city only until 11pm on weekdays and until 2am on weekends.
Malaga usually turns on the Christmas lights on the last Friday of November, coinciding with the Black Friday shopping day. This change would not, however, affect the long 'puente' holiday weekend in December, a key date for the city's commerce and hospitality industry.
The change now being considered comes as the Junta de Andalucía is working on a draft decree which proposes that the festive lighting cannot be inaugurated before 8 December.
The Andalusian regional government's Minister for Sustainability, the Environment and the Blue Economy, Ramón Fernández-Pacheco, said last week that the Junta will only make "recommendations" within the framework of its powers regarding the switching on of Christmas lights, although "it will be the local councils" who decide "when they turn on and turn off their Christmas lights".
The national government has taken a similar position. With regard to specific measures, they say that they will wait for what Brussels says before implementing the energy contingency plan; and on the issue of Christmas lights it has said that the plan will be aimed more at recommendations than legal obligations.