Silent night: Cape Town’s festive lights switched on without the usual fanfare

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City of Cape Town festive lights event (Supplied by CoCT)
City of Cape Town festive lights event (Supplied by CoCT)
  • Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis switched on the festive lights in Adderley Street on Tuesday night.
  • For the second year in a row, the free open-air concern which usually precedes the event was cancelled in line with Covid-19 protocols.
  • The event generally draws about 100 000 people.

The jolly affair which marks the annual switching on of festive lights in Cape Town has been called off again amid Covid-19 restrictions on gatherings and the danger of a potential increase in infections.

Cape Town mayor Geordin Hill-Lewis switched on the lights along Adderley Street's main crossing on Tuesday night without the usual fanfare.

He said he was sorry for not sharing the event with the nearly 100 000 people that usually attend it.

"As sad as this is, I know it was the right decision. I hope that very soon we will be able to see Adderley Street packed again, from St. George's Cathedral, all the way down to the Heerengracht."

He recalled a time when his mother took him to Adderley Street as a young boy to see the lights being switched on.

"I remember the feeling of wonder and excitement seeing the lights blink on for as far as the eye could see, or at least that's what it felt like to a small child," he said.

City of Cape Town festive lights event (Supplied by CoCT)

This year’s festive theme is, Cape Town: City of Opportunities.

It's the second year in a row that the City of Cape Town has cancelled the free, open-air concert which usually precedes the switching on of the lights.

christmas light
City of Cape Town festive lights event (Supplied by CoCT)

In addition to the colourful spectacle in the city bowl, festive lights displays also light up in Muizenberg, Grassy Park, Macassar, Strand, Somerset West, Sir Lowry's Pass, Ravensmead, Valhalla Park, Khayelitsha, Hanover Park, Mitchells Plain and Atlantis. In other areas of the metropole, small Christmas trees in are draped in lights.

The City said it took energy conservation into consideration, switching from the normal incandescent lamp to rope lights, reducing the load on the network "considerably".

Meanwhile, the Cape Town Summer Market will take on a new approach this year.

One hundred vendors will sell their products in the Company's Garden at a three-day market from 12:00 to 20:00 from 16 to 18 December.

A month-long online market has ben arranged for December.

"The pandemic's effect on the informal trading sector under national lockdown Level 5 [last year] necessitated the need to find innovative ways to ensure that traders are able to access economic opportunities safely and in a Covid-19 compliant manner," said mayoral committee member for urban management Grant Twigg.

"In light of this, the format of the market had to be changed from a purely physical event to a hybrid format, which includes both the physical Cape Town Summer market and the Cape Town Online market. A hybrid implementation of the event will comprise of a live event adhering to the Covid-19 protocols."

City of Cape Town festive lights event (Supplied by CoCT)

The online market can be accessed at where it is anticipated that a total of 200 vendors will be hosted.

The virtual market is available to Cape Town-based vendors and aims to support small businesses so that they can sell their products online. The cost for participation in the online market is R336.10, while those approved for the physical market will pay R107.20 per day.   

"Our role is to provide an enabling environment for the informal sector to do business and the summer market does just that," Twigg said.

"Through the market, our people will be able to supplement their income and sustain their livelihoods over the festive period. This also contributes to economic recovery and Cape Town CBD revitalisation. It will also play a part in the stimulation of the night economy in the CBD."

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