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Christmas cheer lights way back to the city

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The City of Sydney will play host to choirs, roving performers, live music and a glittering array of decorations from tonight, as part of a Christmas program celebrating the return of people to the city centre.

“We know this year has been particularly hard on Sydneysiders, both for our residents and business owners, following nearly four months of lockdown as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic,” City of Sydney CEO Monica Barone said.

“We’re delighted to invite people safely back onto the streets over the holiday period. Our extended roving entertainment program, cracking Christmas decorations and lighting displays will create the welcoming, festive atmosphere our community knows and loves.”

Christmas decorations include a light display staged on the Queen Victoria Building for the first time, with a kaleidoscope of colours illuminating the entrance of the historic establishment. There will be a total of 85,000 shimmering lights in displays across the city and 10 two-metre stars in Pitt Street Mall.

Eleven Christmas trees will be dotted across the city, including the beloved Martin Place Christmas tree, the centrepiece of the city’s decorations, which celebrates its 50th year in 2021.

“People love the Martin Place tree. At 33-metres, it’s the tallest Christmas tree in New South Wales. It’s been through various incarnations over the 50 years and is always the focal point of our Christmas display,” Ms Barone said.

The tree is decorated with more than 110,000 LED lights, a 3.4-metre colour-changing star and 330 specially created glossy baubles.

The tree’s 800 branches are dressed with 15,000 flowers representing nine different kinds of Australian flowers: banksia, waratah, bottlebrush, wattle, eucalyptus gum flower, kangaroo paw, flannel flower, pink wax flower and white wax flower.

The City of Sydney first put up a tree in Martin Place in 1971, and real trees were used until 1975. However, after problems with browning and the mess created by falling pine needles, the City started using an artificial tree in 1976.

In addition to the tree, new this year is a stunning light installation on the Druitt Street side of the QVB that features 7,000 lights spanning a 260 square metre area.

Businesses inside the QVB are just some of the many across Sydney who have struggled through two years of the pandemic.

Executive director of Business Sydney, Paul Nicolaou, expects the Christmas period to signal the beginning of a recovery for many businesses that have suffered through Covid-19.

“I can’t understate how devastating the two years of this pandemic have been for Sydney’s city centre, with so many businesses that just managed to hang on through 2020 struggling again, with another slow return to workplaces, and in turn hospitality and retail business,” Mr Nicolaou said.

 “We really need people back in the city centre, and thankfully we are starting to see a steady increase in foot traffic, with numbers slowly picking up as people rediscover the benefits of returning to their workplaces and the wonderful city offerings of dining and shopping.

“We’re hopeful this Christmas program will help remind people how fabulous the city is and why it’s worth coming out to celebrate.”

Ms Barone said the city’s economic recovery had been considered when deciding on the Christmas program.

“We’re livening up our city with choirs belting out carols in the city centre throughout December, while roving performers will encourage people back onto the streets in the city, Redfern, Glebe, Surry Hills, Darlinghurst, Newtown, Erskineville and Kings Cross.

“In planning our events, we’ve factored in the latest public health orders to create Covid-safe celebrations that are most suited to the needs of a community still grappling with the devastating impacts of the pandemic,” Ms Barone said.

The Martin Place tree will be turned on for the first time tonight and from tomorrow will light up the city from 7pm, with its 15-minute program of lights and music playing well into the night.

Other lights and decorations across the city will switch on tonight and be in place until Friday 1 January.

Nine-metre trees featuring 170 hand-made baubles, 224 native floral decorations and topped with a star are located at: Dr H J Foley Rest Park in Glebe, Sydney Town Hall, Customs House, Fitzroy Gardens in Kings Cross, Taylor Square, Union Square in Pyrmont, St Mary’s Cathedral, next to Surry Hills Library and Green Ban Park in Erskineville.

Green Square locals can enjoy a 12-metre tree with 290 hand-made baubles and 400 native flowers in the plaza.

The choirs program will run from 1 to 21 December at the Martin Place Christmas tree and 17 to 24 December on George Street from 6pm to 8pm.

Roving entertainment will be staged at lunchtime and in the evenings from Wednesday to Sunday in the city centre and Thursday to Sunday in the villages. It will run throughout December and January.

For more information about Christmas in the City, visit https://whatson.sydney/christmas  

For media enquiries or images or interviews, contact Nicky Breen on 0436 599 861 or email nbreen@cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

For more stories about your local area, visit news.cityofsydney.nsw.gov.au

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Source – Medianet

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