The holiday season officially begins in Rio de Janeiro, with the lighting of the world’s largest floating Christmas tree. More than 100,000 people flocked to the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon to join the festivities, which included a fireworks display.
Standing at 85 metres (279 feet), the tree was decorated in themes depicting water, air, forests, humanity and Christmas. The 542-tonne tree lit up with 3.1 million lights. Figures of dolphins, seahorses and fish represented water. The colours of sunset, and birds, for air. Butterflies, macaws and monkeys, for forests. People linking hands symbolised humanity. The Christmas tree was first erected in 1996 and its annual lighting became Rio’s third biggest tourist event after Carnival festivities and New Year’s Eve on Copacabana beach.
About 10,000 people turned out to watch the Christmas tree’s lighting, organizers said. The tree, which will be lighted every night until Jan. 6, 2012, will be towed to other sites on the lagoon so it can be viewed from different spots in the city.