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Floating Christmas tree lights up Rio de Janeiro's night sky
Rio de Janeiro's floating Christmas tree was lit on Saturday (December 01), officially kicking off the holiday season in the beachside city after a three-year absence. Thousands of tourists and locals flocked to the Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon to watch the 70-metre (229-feet) high, 369-tonne tree light up for the first time this year, accompanied by a seven-minute fireworks display. The annual celebration has become a mainstay for tourists who came out in droves along with locals who came to be part of the celebration. But its absence has been felt in three years, with austerity and a flailing economy hitting Christmas celebrations in the city. The Christmas tree was first erected in 1996 and its lighting has become Rio's third biggest tourist event after Carnival festivities and New Year's Eve on Copacabana beach.