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.
Sign up for Global Local to get inspiration and learning from councils around the world facing challenges like yours – week in, week out. See our Christmas edition here, free with sign in:
We have received a phenomenal amount of donations which will be donated in time for Christmas to local people in need 👪 👴 👵 🧏 🎄 pic.twitter.com/z9ZryS8sbv
— Wokingham Borough Council (@WokinghamBC) December 8, 2022
At the weekend, All Saints Church Rayne held their annual Christmas tree festival and Rayne WI created a Christmas tree made entirely of hats knitted throughout the year.
— Braintree District Council (@BraintreeDC) December 12, 2022
A few years ago @CityKitchener council started a tradition by helping deliver @hofwatreg Christmas hampers. It’s one of the special parts of the holiday season in our community making a difference for so many! Thx to my colleagues able to join today & those who joined in spirit! pic.twitter.com/K09Q0KV2lq
— Berry Vrbanovic (@berryonline) December 10, 2022
Today marked the end of this year’s Holiday Drive. Thank you to everyone who was able to donate as this year’s drive will help hundreds of families at both @journeyhousemke and @RRCO1980 with both necessities and items such as books and games to enjoy the holiday season! pic.twitter.com/YpiafcwfLl
— Mayor Cavalier Johnson (@MayorOfMKE) December 13, 2022
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.
Let the judging commence! This afternoon Councillor Mike Ross, Leader and Matt Jukes, Chief Executive were busy judging this year’s Hull City Council primary school Christmas card competition 🤶 🎅 Keep a look out for the announcement of the winner 🎄 pic.twitter.com/rubVZOnE0J
— Hull City Council (@Hullccnews) December 5, 2022
☃️ An amazing creation of the Snowman and the Snowdog, made from stones on Sandymere Beach, Devon.
👏 Beach4Art via Facebook pic.twitter.com/BtB5tFS6We
— Devon County Council (@DevonCC) December 5, 2022
🎅 There’s lots of brilliant, knitted festive post box toppers appearing around Devon! This is in Appledore, North Devon.
📸 Rose Holton pic.twitter.com/LRIylJN5IF
— Devon County Council (@DevonCC) December 2, 2022
@warkslibraries are open with a warm welcome to support local communities this festive season, offering free children’s craft activities, a friendly virtual reading group for adults, and Twixmas opening hours between Christmas and New Year.
— Warwickshire County Council (@Warwickshire_CC) December 14, 2022
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!
Baltimore County is in the holiday spirit! Did you know there are train gardens open all across the county? We stopped by a few to check out the holiday magic✨ MORE INFO: https://t.co/ccaungMwAq pic.twitter.com/e4FaFM9wre
— Baltimore County (@BaltCoGov) December 9, 2022
Take in over a million dazzling lights & joyous holiday spirit as @zoomiami hosts #ZooLights, happening on select nights through Dec. 30. Each night hosts a special theme, & #OurCounty guests are encouraged to dress accordingly. Buy your tickets online: https://t.co/yV5d2ZDGBg pic.twitter.com/PEyodwx4d2
— Miami-Dade County (@MiamiDadeCounty) December 12, 2022
Get your skates on! ⛸️
— City of Melbourne (@cityofmelbourne) December 13, 2022
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.
Every day you open a new door, https://t.co/ousXhGEmki will reveal a beautiful artwork by Lily Uivel and a new way to treat yourself in Wellington🎁
You have until 31st December to download the deals and until 31st January to redeem them!
— WellingtonNZ (@Wellington_NZ) December 1, 2022
This Christmas, forget the socks- Give the Gift of Going Out!
Support your favourite restaurant, bar, gig venue or theatre, and spend quality time with your nearest and dearest this Christmas ♥
— Wigan Council (@WiganCouncil) December 13, 2022
Supporting you this #Christmas 🤗 🎄
We’ve put together a page of useful advice and support for our residents over the festive holiday period, including our Winter in the City map 🤩
— Westminster City Council (@CityWestminster) December 13, 2022
Give the gift of fitness, fun, and well-being this holiday season. Recreation Gift Cards make a great gift for friends and family to enjoy recreation and leisure activities. Visit https://t.co/B4dERKhm6a for more information. pic.twitter.com/ZA5o5amw4B
— City of Winnipeg (@cityofwinnipeg) December 9, 2022
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 wealth building meets the community economy: building cooperative approaches
- Economic development’s vibe shift
- Mixed-methods area profiling and reflections urban regeneration
— Glasgow City Council 🇺🇦 (@GlasgowCC) December 12, 2022
— Oulun kaupunki, Oulu (@oulunkaupunki) December 13, 2022
— The City of Edinburgh Council (@Edinburgh_CC) December 7, 2022
The school holidays are just around the corner! Check out hundreds of fun activities for children & young people this winter: https://t.co/3YDcTFu46d
— Cumbria County Council (@CumbriaCC) December 12, 2022
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.
🎁 When buying paper to wrap Christmas presents, think about the planet.
Only paper that scrunches can be recycled – and it goes in your orange cardboard sack.
If it doesn’t scrunch or has glitter on it needs to go in your rubbish bin.
🎅 Watch Santa do the scrunch test. pic.twitter.com/9UDQUv4AXV
— @cornwallcouncil (@CornwallCouncil) December 5, 2022
— Montgomery County MD (@MontgomeryCoMD) December 4, 2022
My holiday tradition is that I have never had a cut down tree. I always buy a live tree and then nurture it for a couple years before gifting it to a friend to be transplanted in their yard. The 2020 Christmas tree is ready for a new home next year. Support forestation. pic.twitter.com/SCZIkJTnZg
— Mayor John J. Bauters (@JohnBauters) December 11, 2022
Decking the halls this year & wondering, what’s more sustainable, a real or an artificial tree?
— Merton Council (@Merton_Council) December 13, 2022
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.
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:
All we want for Christmas is you, Hull ❤️
Incredible turnout as always 👏 pic.twitter.com/jPAphvw6oZ
❄️ Let it snow, let it snow, let it snow⠀
❄️ Cost of living support and Welcoming Spaces: https://t.co/XsHvLJ8d6I⠀
❄️ Support New Hope’s Christmas appeal, In From the Cold: https://t.co/1Qg3wMboNx⠀
❄️ Bin collections during winter weather: https://t.co/uywwyEjRg2⠀ pic.twitter.com/cyF2IH8zWP
— Watford Council (@WatfordCouncil) December 12, 2022
— Hull City Council (@Hullccnews) November 17, 2022
— City of Knoxville (@CityKnoxvilleTN) December 12, 2022
Come see Sydney sparkle this Christmas. Enjoy spectacular lights and decorations, choir performances, Christmas concerts, local markets and more. See more at https://t.co/LEnG5e1SyB#sydney #christmas pic.twitter.com/Om0xoXNeT0
— City of Sydney (@cityofsydney) December 1, 2022
❄️ It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas
📷 @watford_highstreet pic.twitter.com/MjNHzudHYg
— Watford Council (@WatfordCouncil) December 11, 2022
— Dublin City Council (@DubCityCouncil) December 3, 2022