Festive sparkle, then and now

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Adderly Street in Cape Town city centre comes alive at night with Christmas Lights on every corner. Picture: Adrian de Kock

Cape Town - For 46 years the switch-on of Cape Town’s Christmas lights in Adderley Street, one of the oldest in the city, has signalled the “official” start of the festive season.

People have long come from far and wide to treat their families to the spectacle, which has left children wide-eyed in wonder, their parents smiling on happily, since the mid-1960s.

And while the switch was originally flipped with little or no fanfare, the ceremonial switch-on by the city’s mayor has today become a major event, with tens of thousands of Capetonians thronging Adderley Street, the Grand Parade and surrounds in a carnival-like atmosphere.

For more than a decade now the event has been accompanied by an open-air party, which has helped build the anticipation; this year the performers included the likes of jazz legend Hugh Masekela, Jimmy Nevis, the Rockets and Mi Casa.

There’s always a theme too, generally tied to the news events of the day – and, appropriately, this year it’s World Design Capital 2014.

Last year’s theme was “Our City, Our People”, while the Soccer World Cup was the centrepiece of 2009 in anticipation of the next year’s soccer spectacle.


Over the years there’s been everything from marine scenes, cyclists and scenes from Cape Town life, to flowers and even Aids ribbons.


Naturally, Christmas lights just wouldn’t be Christmas lights without a healthy dose of Father Christmases, reindeer and gifts.

- Weekend Argus

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