Happy Holidays from LGIU and Global Local. Just like local government makes the place, local government also often makes the holidays, too – providing the special magic of lights and fun or highlighting the kindness and spirit of the season. We wanted to highlight some of the wonderful examples of creativity, community and festive infrastructure.
Civic pride at the holidays
Councils around the globe celebrate the festive season with lights, trees and visits from the jolly old elf himself. While not everyone celebrates Christmas, local government uses the opportunity to encourage community spirit, encourage charitable giving, local shopping for economic recovery and to share messages about everything from public health to sustainability.
In the Global Local spirit of sharing best practice, we gathered a few examples. We’d love to see more! Tweet to us @GlobalLocalLGIU to share your local examples of holiday cheer!
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Every place is different – from the annual pardoning piglets by the mayor of Miami to the Cavalcade of Lights in Toronto originating in the celebration of a newly built city hall – local traditions are one of the things that make places and holidays special. From putting up the city lights, to organising parades, communications campaigns and gift giveaways, it’s the people who work for and represent these towns and cities that really make the place.
Miami, Florida, USA
Today represented a defining moment in these lucky little pigs’ lives — a real pork in the road, some might say.
This morning, I proudly granted a full Mayoral pardon to Manchita, David, Shlomo, and Sakura.
I wish them many happy, healthy years ahead! pic.twitter.com/B7Z5Ml5iP7
— Daniella Levine Cava (@MayorDaniella) December 14, 2021
Toronto, Ontario, Canada
Get your dancing skates on and head to Nathan Phillips Square for public skating events happening nightly during #CavalcadeOfLights from 5 – 10 pm. ⛸ Learn more: https://t.co/NTlvXI2iyT City of @culture_to pic.twitter.com/fWzy9xHVWN
— City of Toronto (@cityoftoronto) December 11, 2021
Knoxville, Tennessee, USA
These are just three of the many dedicated City employees on the Public Service team who make Christmas in the City each year. Read about how they build the ice skating rink & cover downtown with hundreds of thousands of holiday lights: https://t.co/1tSnmcozMs pic.twitter.com/Oxdfic7bfM
— Mayor Kincannon (@MayorKincannon) December 10, 2021
We love a good town hall any time of year, but there’s something special about a town hall lit up in holiday style.
Auckland, New Zealand
✨ Have you seen the Christmas Light Show in Te Komititanga yet?
📅 It’s on every evening until the 24th from 8.45pm.
ℹ️ Find out more: https://t.co/ZUT9ELc91e#FestiveAKL with @HeartOfAklCity and Commercial Bay pic.twitter.com/mqy6Pe7GXs
— Auckland Council (@AklCouncil) December 13, 2021
Winter Owls light show takes place on 18th December. You’ll love this stunning light projection as the Owls come home to roost for Christmas on to the Town Hall 🦉🌃
This is a real must-see event! 🤩
— Bolton Council (@boltoncouncil) December 12, 2021
Take a wander down Dawson Street & see @MansionHouseDub looking wonderful with its new #DublinWinterLights installation 😍
Find all locations via https://t.co/4FLhp4gnpm #FeelTheMagic #WinterInDublin pic.twitter.com/RZKXEBmL64
— Dublin City Council (@DubCityCouncil) November 22, 2021
A visit from old St Nick!
A chance to tell Father Christmas what you really want is a highlight of the holidays for many kids.
Look who’s come to town! We’re proud to support The Kids’ Cancer Project this Christmas and invited Santa to do some shopping in our area.
— City of Sydney (@cityofsydney) December 1, 2021
Holly Springs, North Carolina, USA
Holly Springs goes all out with a mailbox in front of the town hall and regular routes through the town’s neighborhoods.
The deadline for children to get letters into Santa’s Mailbox is this Sunday, Dec. 12. Santa’s Mailbox is outside the front entrance to Holly Springs Town Hall. **Children who want to hear back from Santa by Christmas Eve should include their name and home address.** pic.twitter.com/8pvsMICLnh
— Town of HollySprings (@ToHollySprings) December 10, 2021
With the help of Holly Springs firefighters, Santa begins rolling through neighborhoods this evening. The Fire Department’s Holly Day Express continues through Dec. 14. For the nightly schedule, visit https://t.co/Y6sKMPwPrz. pic.twitter.com/Bk4V2PLTXV
— Town of HollySprings (@ToHollySprings) December 6, 2021
In the borough of Test Valley, each year Santa has to be rescued from town hall. I think we all know the feeling of burning the midnight oil at the civic offices and needing a rescue.
On Friday night we were called to rescue Father Christmas from the town hall with our colleagues from @StMarys54, Happy to say he was rescued safe & well and bought back down to meet everyone on the good list!
CHRISTMAS IS SAVED!! ❤️
— Romsey Fire Station (@Romsey33) December 12, 2021
A municipal sleigh ride!
Transportation services can get into the swing of things, too!
Transport for London in the UK has shared the best bus routes for taking in the lights in Central London:
London’s festive lights are at full beam 💡, and what better way to see the city at its most sparkly than on the bus! 🚌
We’ve put together the best bus routes for viewing the most spectacular displays, your sleigh awaits… ✨
— Transport for London (@TfL) December 10, 2021
Wellington, New Zealand
The commuters are loving the trains are all wrapped up for Christmas and there are more announcements of fun and festivities, balanced with Covid safety from the city council.
— Muffin Mum is out to lunch (@muffinmum) December 10, 2021
Oh Christmas Tree!
Christmas trees are the centrepiece of many municipal holiday decorations. These are some of our favourites:
We love this crocheted tree in Medelim in the municipal district of Idanha-a-nova in Portugal.
No oitavo dia do #advento do #CentrodePortugal, destacamos a original árvore de #Natal da aldeia de #Medelim, no município de #IdanhaANova, decorada a #crochet. Belíssima, não acha? 😍 #NatalnoCentrodePortugal #AquiEntreNós pic.twitter.com/Y64IDuHs6n
— Turismo do Centro (@CentroPortugal) December 8, 2021
Did you know you can decorate the Giant Christmas Tree in Victoria Square / Tarntanyangga on the Adelaide Christmas Cracker Trail app! 🎄
The app is FREE to download and features 14 Christmas activities all throughout the city and North Adelaide.
— CityofAdelaide (@CityofAdelaide) December 12, 2021
City of San Francisco, California, USA
The City of San Francisco has an amazing town hall and Christmas tree display as well as a toy give-away led by the mayor and supported by several municipal services.
— City of San Francisco (@sfgov) December 2, 2021
San Francisco has traditionally had a beautiful city hall light display and tress and as well as traditional generosity from city employees and other public servants.
— London Breed (@LondonBreed) December 16, 2021
I'm dreaming of a green Christmas
Despite being wonderful, Christmas is also the most wasteful time of the year. An estimated 30% extra household waste is produced and discarded across the festive season. This increase represents around three million more tonnes of waste in the UK and 25 million tonnes in the USA (the latter between Thanksgiving and New Year).
Local governments are encouraging their communities to act in a more environmentally sustainable way this Christmas. Here are some of the council actions and messages that caught our eye:
City of Ljubljana, Slovenia
Christmas can be #green, beautiful, and inspired by #PietMondrian. Pupils from one of Ljubljana’s primary schools created the embellishments out of empty yoghurt bottles for the Christmas tree in #Ljubljana’s City Hall. #greenhint pic.twitter.com/qEqqpoPX5U
— Visit Ljubljana (@visitljubljana) November 30, 2021
The Christmas tree in Ljubljana’s City Hall is decorated with yoghurt bottles, painted with designs inspired by Dutch artist Piet Mondrian by pupils at local France Bevk Primary School. Known as the dragon city, the Slovenian capital often displays abstract Christmas lights, including some based on comets and DNA strands.
London Borough of Brent, England
19 days until Christmas…Not all wrapping paper was made equal! The ‘scrunch test’ finds out if it can be recycled. Scrunch up the paper, if it springs back, it’s made from mixed materials and should be placed in your rubbish bin. If not, it’s good to be recycled! @VeoliaUK pic.twitter.com/kIHydhkvpU
— Brent Council (@Brent_Council) December 6, 2021
Brent Council is running a ‘green Christmas’ advent calendar campaign. The council is sharing waste tips throughout December, including information about drop-off points for turning trees into compost and a reminder that used batteries should be recycled at supermarkets to avoid risking fires in household bins.
City of Edinburgh, Scotland
— The City of Edinburgh Council (@Edinburgh_CC) December 12, 2021
Loving the Christmas Festival so far? Make sure your festive adventure is flawless and double check Chapter House Lane projection dates before visiting – they won’t run on 17, 18 or 24 December.
More info here: https://t.co/EXs6kKJ1Ov
📸: Adam Reynard pic.twitter.com/3tO0ZMheOD
— City of Melbourne (@cityofmelbourne) December 16, 2021
Jill Riseley, Chief Executive of Melbourne’s Metropolitan Waste Resource and Recovery Group told LGIU’s Ingrid Koehler about their circular economy Christmas tradition on the Global Local podcast. The fun ‘Dirty Santa’ game involves regifting presents wrapped in recycled paper, which can be kept or stolen. The Group also produces really useful resources for councils, including about introducing food waste recycling services.