By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Christmas season is here again and that means it’s time to light the famous floating Christmas tree in Rio de Janeiro. Sponsored by Bradesco Seguros the 19th annual tree lighting will take place on Saturday, November 29th at 8PM at Parque do Cantagalo in Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas located in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone).
The annual lighting of the tree is the third largest event in the city, after Carnival and Réveillon (New Year’s Eve), and organizers estimate that over 2,000 people will attend the tree’s lighting ceremony this year.
Part of the event’s draw for the spectators who come from around the city, the country and the world, is the sheer size of the tree itself. According to the Guinness Book of Records, the tree is the largest floating Christmas tree in thee world. The star topping the tree is, by itself, 85 meters tall and weighs 2.5 tons.
The entire tree structure weighs a total of 542 tons and will be placed on top of eleven floats. Combined with the star, the tree is a towering 85 meters tall and adorned with 3.1 million microlights and 120 kilometers of illuminated tubing, all reportedly powered by biodiesel generators.
Each year the tree features a new theme which is displayed by those lights. This year’s theme is “Um Natal de Luz” (A Christmas Light). Similar to previous editions, the tree’s lighting system will transition to illustrate the theme.
“There are four stages,” the theme’s designer, Abel Gomes, told O Globo. “It starts with starlight referring to dreams, passes into the sunlight that then gives energy to the moonlight and ends with the Christmas lights that illuminate our homes.”
During this year’s lighting, additional entertainment will be provided by Choir of the Bradesco Foundation, actors Claudio Lins and Laila Garin, the singer Simone, the Lima Family and the Symphony Orchestra of Barra Mansa.
To help attendees arrive at the event, MetrôRio will also host an exclusive bus route. Running from 6PM to 11PM on Saturday, November 29th and again on Sunday, November 30th from 6PM to 10PM, the bus will leave from General Osório in Ipanema and travel to Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas with various stops along the way. Fare will be R$3.50.
Following the lighting ceremony, the tree will float slowly around the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas throughout the holiday season until January 6th.
What: Bradesco Seguros’ Christmas tree Lighting 2014
When: Saturday, November 29th at 8PM
Where: Parque do Cantagalo, s/n, Lagoa