The annual lighting of the Athens’ Christmas tree on Syntagma square in front of the Greek parliament has been held, officially kicking off the holiday season celebrations in the Greek capital.
Greeks will celebrate for the seventh consecutive year on an austerity budget compared to the pre-crisis levels, but plenty of optimism and hope for the future, Mayor of Athens Yiorgos Kaminis said before switching on the Christmas tree lights.
“We wish to spread joy and optimism… Over the past two years the signs of the city’s recovery are obvious. We are very proud,” Kaminis told Xinhua.
“This year, 2017, ends with an all time record of visitors (to Athens). With five million visitors we have every reason to be optimistic,” he said.
According to the latest financial indexes, the economy of debt-laden Greece is on the mend nearing the exit of the crisis and the mood out in the streets during the festive season is changing despite the remaining problems and challenges.
Hundreds of people danced to the rhythm of Christmas songs performed by the Athens Municipality Philharmonic Orchestra and the Athens jazz Big Band during Tuesday’s event.
At least 220 outdoor and indoor festive events for children and adults are included in the municipality’s holiday program over the next four weeks, according to a press announcement.
The Mayor of Athens invited Athenians and visitors to stroll around the city in coming days and enjoy the theater, music and dance performances, children’s activities, street parties, workshops and gastronomy events which will be hosted in squares, landmark sites, museums and cultural centers.
Addressing Tuesday’s event, Kaminis also urged his fellow citizens to not forget to care and stand by those who are in need.
The municipality, as in the previous years of the debt crisis, has also made arrangements to help all join in the holiday spirit.
Athens will usher the New Year with a big concert by renowned Greek artists at the pedestrian walkway at the foot of the Acropolis hill.