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Christmas in Amsterdam, the Netherlands (Tanya Hart/Flickr)

The city of Amsterdam doesn’t want its residents to go overboard with their Christmas lighting decorations. City officials have proposed new rules that would require residents to report their plans for street-facing lighting displays to local authorities starting next year, with stricter measures in the UNESCO-protected city center.

If passed in the city council, the proposed regulations would require anyone wanting to decorate more than one square meter (~10.8 square feet) or more than 10% of a building’s façade with Christmas lights to register with the city at least three days in advance.

Lighting displays on buildings would have to consist of at least 70% “warm white” bulbs, allowing only energy-saving LED lights. Furthermore, residents must switch the lights off from midnight to 6 AM. The displays would be allowed only from October to February.

The holiday season in Amsterdam in 2016 (Franklin Heijnen/Flickr)

Outdoor Christmas trees and holiday displays like Santa Claus and his reindeer would also need to be registered with the city.

At the historic city center, at least 90% of bulbs must be warm white and must not cover more than 30% of a building’s façade. The lights must not conceal any architectural ornament and must reflect the shape of the building.

Amsterdam officials believe that these restrictions are needed to curb excessive, energy-wasting lighting displays and “to ensure a good balance between calm streets and public lighting and decorations.”

Business owners in Amsterdam are already required to apply for a permit for “highly visible” Christmas decorations. The website Dutch News reports that these existing regulations would be scrapped if the new guidelines are approved.

The city council is set to discuss the new rules in the spring of 2021. As for now, lawmakers have refrained from detailing any penalties, perhaps knowing that a backlash would ensue.

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Hakim Bishara

Hakim Bishara is a staff writer for Hyperallergic. He is also a co-director at Soloway Gallery, an artist-run space in Brooklyn. Bishara is a recipient of the 2019 Andy Warhol Foundation and Creative Capital...