Amsterdam draws up new rules to tone down its Christmas lights

Jon Henley
·2-min read

Amsterdam residents wanting to festoon the outside of their home with Christmas lighting may have to inform authorities in advance, city hall has said.

The city council unveiled a 35-page plan that would limit the size and colour of festive displays from next Christmas and require Amsterdammers to register their decorative intentions online at least 72 hours beforehand.

“These rules are aimed at ensuring festive lighting matches the landscape of our Amsterdam streets and that a good balance is maintained between calm streets and illuminations in the public space,” the city council said.

The measures would apply city-wide, the council said, with stricter rules in the 17th-century canal district, a Unesco world heritage site, and old city centre where only “warm white” coloured lighting may be used and all garlands will have to follow the gabled outline of each building.

Across the city, only low-energy LED lights will be allowed and all illuminations will have to be turned off between midnight and 6am. Any residents wanting to hang more than 1 sq metre of festive lights, or cover more than 10% of their facade, will have to inform the council at least 72 hours in advance.

The council said the measure, expected to be voted on in the new year, was necessary because new technologies had made festive lighting cheaper and more and more people were choosing to decorate the outside of their homes with big displays.

“The size of lighting displays is increasing constantly and will continue to do so as advancing technology makes every bigger and more complex designs available for an ever lower cost, and because bulbs are using ever less energy,” it said.

“In order to guarantee the quality and livability of our public space, it is important that festive lighting, in terms of quantity, use of colour, strength and design remains in keeping with the nature of our Amsterdam streets.”