A municipal Christmas

Whether you celebrate Christmas or not, it’s hard to escape the festivity this time of year. Local governments around the world are embracing the season in their own special ways. We’ve collected a variety of seasonal approaches  – from celebrating local crafts, the spirit of giving, sustainability at Christmas, kids and community, using the season to support local businesses and, of course – holiday lights!! We’ve found some great examples around the globe and some LGIU resources that can help make these ideas a reality where you are.

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Global Local bulletin: Christmas lights

The spirit of giving

With rising food and fuel prices, many councils were keenly aware of their residents and the cost of living crisis. Many are using the spirit of giving this time of year to support charities – either their own or their partners’ efforts.

LGIU has a host of resources, good ideas and guidance to help councils helping their residents. See our Cost of Living collection, with over 20 policy briefings, open articles and a Global Local bulletin sharing innovation and inspiration from around the world, you’ll find a wealth of support.

We loved Wokingham Borough Council’s reverse advent calendar encouraging local people to support each other in the run up to Christmas, Braintree District Council celebrated a local tree of hats – toasty and festive! Council colleagues in Kitchener have a tradition of distributing food hampers for happy holiday dinner! And the mayor of Milwaukee, Cavalier Johnson, recognised the city’s giving spirit.

A crafty Christmas

Councils have a huge role to play in supporting local arts and celebrating history and heritage. This year we celebrated councils doing just that. Here are just a few examples:
<li><a href=”https://lgiu.org/gospel-and-crockett-building-on-a-small-towns-cultural-heritage/”>Listen to our podcast</a> where the mayor of Lawrenceburg, Tennessee explains how arts and education are driving economic prosperity in a small town.</li>
<li>See our most recent UK <a href=”https://lgiu.org/briefing/cultural-sector-policy-and-research-round-up-autumn-2022/”>culture and local government roundup</a>.</li>
<li>Our Global Local bulletin on <a href=”https://lgiu.org/newsletters/museums-and-local-history/”>museums and local history</a></li>
We love how seriously the leader and chief executive of <strong>Hull</strong>, Cllr Mike Ross and Matt Jukes are taking the Christmas card competition. <strong>Devon</strong> has been sharing crafty Christmas images all December on Twitter.  The beach pebble art is amazing, but so are the post box toppers – especially the post box topper with its own post box and topper!  It’s too hard to choose!


Festive fun

While a lot of people may not realise it, fun in towns and cities is reliant on local infrastructure. From permitting parades and festivals to signposting activities, local government is there!

This year LGIU highlighted the important work of councils in promoting diversity and acceptance in our Civic Pride collection and we showcased how the City of Derry in Northern Ireland is becoming the ‘Halloween capital of the world’ with a festival that promotes both economic growth and social cohesion.

You can’t get much more magical than a good model train set up and Baltimore County is highlighting ‘train gardens’ all across the county for some festive fun. Maybe the Zoo Lights in Miami-Dade are more your speed?  Or try some roller skating in Melbourne! The municipal fun is endless.

Local treats!

Local government has important economic development responsibilities, too. Many councils are using the festive period to encourage people to shop locally and use other fun local services, such as restaurants or experiences.

We loved Wellington, New Zealand’s advent calendar of fun offers from local businesses.  Even if you can’t get Wellington to enjoy the offers, you can enjoy the concept and the amazing artwork. It’s really worth checking out. A number of councils in Greater Manchester are supporting a campaign about going out locally. The City of Westminster (central London) has put together a winter pack of great ideas and slipping in support and other civic information. And Winnipeg is encouraging people to give the gift of activity!

And check out some of our resources on economic development.


Community and kids

This time of year is great for promoting community spirit. There’s nothing like children’s and young people’s choirs to bring out the festive spirit. From Christmas carols for elders in Glasgow, St. Lucia lights and singing in Oulu, Finland, and music to support displaced Ukranian families in Edinburgh. We’re also loving the many activities for kids being put on by local government over the school break, like Cumbria‘s example. Many of these are designed to not only get the kids out of the house so parents can work (or get a bit of peace and quiet), but also give them a good meal and a warm place to be as well as enriching activities.

One of our most recent Global Local Bulletins was on how local government with communities can help tackle loneliness, we’ve also covered childcare deserts and  using technology for better community engagement.

A sustainable holiday

Lots of people are rightly concerned about the environmental impact of Christmas and councils are right there to help your holiday be little bit greener. From Cornwall Council’s Santa scrunch test, Montgomery County, Maryland’s ideas for greener gifts and the London Borough of Merton’s advice on comparative carbon footprints. And we love the Mayor of Emeryville, California, John Bauters’s tradition of growing and gifting Christmas trees.

We have a greener Christmas sorted with a brand new piece on how councils are promoting more sustainable holidays in our four LGIU countries here. Or check out our collection of case studies focused on councils working with citizens for climate change action. Plus our recent Global Local Bulletin on COP-27 is packed full of resources, ideas and inspiration.

Holiday lights

Of course one of the biggest parts of holiday festivities are the light displays throughout towns and cities (or floral and light displays if you live in warmer climes). You can check out our roundup from 2021.  Here are some we found pretty fantastic this year: