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29 December, 2020

How European cities are decorated for New Year's Eve

In December 2020 and January 2021, borders are still partially closed due to the pandemic. But travel is still possible: some countries allow tourists with a quarantine condition, others can be visited with a second passport or a residence permit card.

Photo: Adobe Stock

Lisbon, Portugal

Lisbon is decorated every year with lights and garlands for Christmas and New Year’s Eve. Although it doesn’t snow in December, the city looks festive.

A multi-coloured Christmas tree was installed in Rosio Square in the Old Town. The columns of the Teatro Nazionale Maria II were decorated with garlands of warm light. Some streets were transformed into light tunnels with snowflakes and bell-shaped decorations.

The festive spirit in the streets is kept alive by Portuguese Fado-style music.

Illumination of the Teatro Nacional Maria II in Lisbon

Lighted figures on the Camões square in Lisbon

Lighting in one of the streets of Lisbon. Even the tables in the street cafes are lit up - hanging lante s under umbrellas

London, UK

In London, everything is lit up: buildings, shops, restaurants. But in some places, the illuminations are particularly impressive.

There are 27 light curtains hung in Oxford Street. They consist of 222,000 LEDs. The lighting is set up to show a poem dedicated to the City of London.

Ca aby Street was decorated this year in collaboration with Choose love, a charity. It helps refugees. The pink LED banners feature words that symbolise the strength, courage and kindness of Londoners in 2020.

The Royal Botanic Gardens at Kew this time illuminated the Rose Garden. Visitors are invited to look at the illuminated buildings and trees and walk through light tunnels.

Bond Street is illuminated by white peacock feathers made of LEDs. Golden angels soar over Regent Street. At Leadenhall Market, there are Christmas trees in the ceiling above each shop window, their tops pointing towards the bright lights in the centre.

Illuminations on Oxford Street

Ca aby Street illumination with words of thanks to the townspeople

Tree lighting at Kew Botanic Gardens

Glowing peacock feathers on Bond Street

LED decorations in the form of golden angels on Regent Street

Decorated for the holidays at Leadenhall Market

Rabat, Malta

The Gianpula Fields Club in Rabat has set up a Magic Lighted Road. Visitors are invited to drive along the route in their own cars. Colourful illumination and decorations have been placed around the road. The most interesting are the huge illuminated figures: for example, a five-metre-high candy house, a four-metre-high Frog Prince and a swan lake.

The attraction was designed with epidemics in mind. It is non-contact - visitors do not get out of their cars, but admire the decorations and take pictures from the windows.

Magic illuminated road in Rabat, Malta

Zurich, Switzerland

In Zurich, illumination is made as if lights are falling from the sky. The streets are lit with warm white and coloured lights. The city centre is particularly good: Bahnhofstrasse, Rennweg, Neumarkt and the surrounding streets.

Leuvenplatz square has been decorated with curtains of colourful stars. The city government took care of the environment: all the stars are made from recycled plastic bottles.

On the Paradeplatz square is the Credit Swiss bank building. Its façade shines with warm orange-red lights. And not far from the square is the Zurich Casino - its walls are completely covered in glowing gold threads.

Illumination on Bahnhofstrasse

Illumination on Neumarkt street

Curtains of stars on Levenstrasse

Paradeplatz and the shining Credit Swiss building

Shining Casino Zurich

Athens, Greece

Athens’ brightest point is Syntagma Square. A fir tree and illuminated figures have been placed there, and the surrounding trees have been decorated with garlands. When darkness falls, the square is flooded with the warm white light of thousands of bulbs.

This year's decorations on the square are dedicated to the people who have helped the citizens during the festive season and throughout the year. A documentary film was made in their honour. Its main character is electrician Dionysios Nikolaou, the oldest employee of Athens Municipality. He was in charge of the Christmas lights in Syntagma Square.

Another bright spot in the city is Panepistimiou Street. Light arches have been placed over the road and the buildings around each one shine in their own way.

Christmas decorations in Syntagma Square in Athens

Panepistimiou Street decorated for the holidays

Vienna, Austria

The Christmas lights in Vienna maintain the city’s style – sophisticated and cosy.

Giant chandeliers have been hung above Graben Street. Each one consists of 200,000 LEDs. Over Kohlmarkt Street there are curtain lights with a warm white light. Throughout the city, Christmas trees are decorated with lights and toys in golden and red colours.

Illumination on Graben Street

Lights over the Kohlmarkt street

Christmas tree at Stephansplatz

How to go to Europe for the holidays without a visa

The UK has opened its borders, but visitors must spend 5 days in quarantine on arrival. It is possible to enter the country without a visa with a passport from one of the Caribbean countries, Vanuatu or Malta.

Greece allows Russians, but with conditions: a negative test for coronavirus and a 3-day quarantine. Cosmopolitans with Greek residence permits, passports from the Caribbean, Vanuatu and Malta do not need a visa. With residence permits in Portugal, Austria, Switzerland, Spain or Malta, no additional documents are needed either.

Portugal, Switzerland and Austria accept only their own nationals and residents. Portugal and Austria provide for a coronavirus test and quarantine.

Malta allows Russians with a Schengen visa to enter its territory if they obtained one before the pandemic. If not, a residence permit or Maltese citizenship will be required.

When the restrictions are lifted, cosmopolitans with second citizenship from the Caribbean, Vanuatu or Malta will be able to travel to the UK and Schengen without a visa. To travel only to Schengen, a residence permit from any European country will do.

The Maltese passport provides the greatest freedom to travel. With it, you can stay in the European Union for any length of time. Other visa-free destinations include the USA, Canada, Australia and Japan.

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How European cities are decorated for New Year's Eve