Rio de Janeiro kicks off the holiday season with a bang and a massive fireworks display at the lighting of the world's tallest floating Christmas tree.
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL (NOVEMBER 30, 2013) (REUTERS) - The holiday season officially kicked off in Rio de Janeiro on Saturday (November 30) with the lighting of the world's largest floating Christmas tree in the heart of the beachside city.
The annual celebration has become a mainstay for tourists who came out in droves along with thousands of locals.
This year, the gigantic 85-metre (279 foot) tree was decorated in a theme reflecting five elements: water, air, forests, humanity and Christmas.
The water aspect was represented by blue lights and acquatic animals including dolphins, seahorses and fish.
The tree then lit with the colors of a spectacular sunset revealing birds and other items representing the air.
Along with green lighting the forests were represented by butterflies, macaws and monkeys.
Then the tree became covered by people linking hands to represent humanity.
And of course Christmas, represented by classic bells and other symbols of the holiday.
With the mountain-top Christ the Redeemer statue looking down on it, the 542 tonne structure lit with 3.1 million lights and 100 LED screens did not let down the thousands gathered to take in the spectacle.
"A Christmas tree lit up like this, it's beautiful. Beautiful. Truly something great and a new experience and I hope to get to experience it again soon. And have another Christmas here," said Chilean tourist, Marcelo Jara.
"I loved it. It was great, great, great. I loved it," a resident of Rio, Irene Lima, said.
The Christmas tree was first erected in 1996 and its lighting became Rio's third biggest tourist event after Carnival festivities and New Year's Eve on Copacaban beach.
The Guinness Book of Records lists it as the world's largest floating Christmas tree.
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