Dublin’s Christmas lights cost nearly €1m and not everybody is happy

Dublin city councillor says there’s a duplication of lights from council and Dublin Town

It's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas in Dublin as buildings across the city are being illuminated by Christmas themed lighting effects.


The almost €1 million spent of Dublin’s Christmas lights has prompted an independent Dublin City Councillor to question the cost of the seasonal project.

Cllr Mannix Flynn said there had been duplication with Dublin City Council and the business improvement organisation Dublin Town with both spending hundreds of thousands of euro on illuminating the city centre and its buildings.

Cllr Flynn said Dublin Town does the traditional Christmas lighting within the city, which sees lights being strung from building to building on the main thoroughfares. This year Dublin City Council announced the Winter lights festival.

Christmas Lights on Grafton Street in Dublin this year. Photograph: Aidan Crawley Irish Times
Christmas Lights on Grafton Street in Dublin this year. Photograph: Aidan Crawley Irish Times

“The cost of street lights is in region of €600,000 to €700,000, and the cost for the Dublin City Council lights, as far as I can ascertain is about €300,000, which will grow into €600,000 because Dublin City Council want to continue this winter festival of light,” he said.

“That’s an enormous amount of money to be spending on a light system that you’re renting out for a Christmas experience. They’re effectively in competition.”

He he told Newstalk Breakfast the rate payers he represented in the city centre and surrounding areas were concerned that they were being charged double, “once by Dublin City Council rate itself and then by the extra levy rate that they pay to Dublin Town, which is another huge rate.”

Cllr Flynn said the issue goes back to last year “when we almost had a disaster on our hands where crowd control became an issue. Gardaí­ said it couldn’t go ahead this year unless there was a serious events plan, which would cost another €300,000 or €400,000, they wanted it planned along the St Patrick’s Day lights festival.”

In response, this year Dublin Town did not turn on all the lights at the same time with a switch on ceremony, instead they were turned on district by district.

“If you go to cities like Amsterdam buildings are lit up all year round, Dublin needs to do this, because we’ve got beautiful buildings, gorgeous streets — it’s an absolutely fabulous city, we’ve got a great skyline, we’ve plenty of opportunity.

“It would be nice to light the city really well, the buildings that Dublin City Council are already lighting, there are already lights in those buildings that we spent a fortune on, like Trinity and the Customs House, they look fantastic, shows the architecture there.

“To smother them in lighting that is really a non event is not spectacular and those kind of lighting experiences are the same all over Europe so you’re looking at a mono situation.”

Cllr Flynn said that Dublin City Council planned the new lights event without informing councillors.

“It was sprung on us, it was an event that we really had no control over, I asked a question on the matter and they weren’t able to answer me in terms of the budget that they put to those,” he said.

“My concerns are that you have a beautiful city with beautiful traditional shop fronts and that’s what you should be looking at all year round, you should be giving incentives for streets to come up with really interesting ideas to light shop fronts instead of the generic strung across the street lights.

“Yes, I want lights on the streets, I want a Christmas lights experience, but now they are competing. Dublin City Council does trees, now Dublin Town is doing trees , the size of them blocking off streets - King Street, Liffey Street.

“When I brought this to Dublin City Council’s attention, they’d no idea that the Dublin Town company had put up these massive trees that blocked the street.”