By Chesney Hearst, Senior Contributing Reporter

RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Christmas is in the air in Rio de Janeiro and to mark the official beginning of the season, the city will hold the lighting ceremony for its famous floating Christmas tree in Lagoa this Saturday, November 30th.

Rio's 2013 Christmas Tree Lighting, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
This year the Christmas tree, sponsored by Bradesco Seguros, will be lit on Saturday, November 30th at the Parque do Cantagalo, photo courtesy of Bradesco Seguros.

Sure to be a momentous event, the lighting is thought to be the third biggest event in Rio after Carnival and Réveillon (New Year’s Eve) on Copacabana Beach.

The sheer size of the tree itself is enough to draw residents and tourists alike to the event. According to the Guinness Book of World Records, Lagoa’s Christmas tree, sponsored by Bradesco Seguros, is the largest floating Christmas tree in the world. Towering 85 meters into the sky, the tree floats slowly around the Lagoa Rodrigo de Freitas in Rio’s Zona Sul (South Zone) throughout the holiday season.

To mark the 18th annual tree’s lighting, the free lighting will begin at 8PM at Cantagalo Park in Lagoa. The event will feature performances, including dances, loosely inspired by Charles Dickens’s holiday classic, “A Christmas Carol,” and Chris Van Allsburg’s “The Polar Express.” Additionally, a spectacular firework display will light up the night sky to usher in the internationally famous tree.

“We are proud to complete this beautiful work that, since 1996, offers magic and enchantment to the public,” Alexandre Nogueira, director of the Bradesco Seguros Group, said in a press release. “The Bradesco Seguros Christmas tree brings the Christmas spirit in a unique way that’s special and exciting for everyone.”

Each year the unconventional tree features a new theme displayed with over three million microlights, two thousand strobe effects, one hundred meters of hoses and one hundred LED reflectors.

Rio's 2013 Christmas Tree Lighting, Rio de Janeiro, Brazil News
Construction of this year’s 18th annual Christmas tree, photo courtesy Bradesco Seguros.

For this year’s theme “Uma celebração à vida” (A celebration of life), the tree will first turn blue and its lights will create patterns resembling fish, dolphins, starfish and seahorses in an homage to the creatures of the ocean. The tree will then shift gradually into warm tones and feature the depiction of a flock of birds flying in the sky.

Green lights will follow as a tribute to the forests with butterflies, monkeys and the well-known macaws of Brazil. The finale of the sequence, which will play in a loop until the tree is taken down at the end of the season, will show human figures surrounding a traditionally decorated Christmas tree in a celebration of human lives.

“All elements presented by scenography exalt life,” Abel Gomes, set designer of Rio’s Christmas tree since its first edition, said. “Everything on the planet offers and invigorates life.”

For those who cannot attend the lighting, the event will be broadcast live on the tree’s website here. The tree will remain lit and floating atop the Lagoa until the end of the holiday season.

What: Bradesco Seguros’ Christmas tree Lighting
When: Saturday, November 30th at 8PM
Where: Parque do Cantagalo, s/n, Lagoa
Entrance: FREE

Read more (in Portuguese).

* The Rio Times Daily Updates feature is offered to help keep you up-to-date with important news as it happens.


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