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Vienna dims street lights as energy prices soar

Vienna, known for its Christmas markets and New Year's concerts, is cutting back on public lighting in the face of soaring energy prices.

At the Ring, the famous boulevard that encircles the heart of the Austrian capital, "there will be no Christmas lights this year," city spokeswoman Roberta Kraft told AFP. , the lights of the Christmas market on the square in front of the town hall are only turned on at night, not at dusk as in previous years. "So it lights up after about an hour. On average, every day," she said.

FILE - People stand outside of the traditional annual Christmas Market in front of Vienna's city hall in Vienna, Austria on Nov. 15, 2021.
File - Annual Traditional Christmas Market People stand outside in front of the Vienna City Hall on November 15, 2021 in Vienna, Austria.

City officials said they had not calculated exactly how much money they would save, but the move was a response to Russia's invasion of Ukraine and Western sanctions. That was after the energy price skyrocketed.

Last Friday, the Austrian Energy Agency announced that the electricity price index for September had risen by more than 256% year-on-year.

Austria, with a population of nine million, relies heavily on tourism, with year-end celebrations being a major economic driver.

More than 4 million people visited Vienna's famous Christmas markets in 2019, before the Covid-19 pandemic halted much international travel.

About 30 shopping streets in Vienna will be lit up in 2021. 7 hours a day from November 12th to early January.