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Kigali lights up as Rwandans celebrate second Covid-free Christmas

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The festive season has kicked in with the City of Kigali already in the festive mood as residents prepare to celebrate the second Christmas without COVID-19 restrictions in four years.

Since 2020, Christmas in Kigali has been a quiet, somber, indoor celebration. The Covid-19 pandemic, whose measures restricted all sorts of movement and mass celebrations, halted many Christmas events.

The first close-to-normal Christmas was in 2022. The city was still visibly recovering from the pandemic’s aftermath. Few celebrations occurred compared to what Kigalians were used to. Few lights and decorations were hung. 

This year’s Christmas is a complete comeback, if not more, of how Kigali celebrates Christmas. The week leading up to the 25th, activities, celebrations, events, and decorations, were the story in Kigali. The headliners were Chorale de Kigali’s popular Christmas Carols, Kigali Night run on Friday 22nd, and Israel Mbonyi’s concert in Kigali Arena on Christmas.  

Despite the inflation effects, traders are hoping to cash in this festive season more than they did in the past three years, mainly because people stayed home as new coronavirus variants led to cautious celebrations.

“We are hoping to see more buyers coming in as Christmas and the New Year approaches. Rwandans have understood the importance of celebrating the festive season,” says Geraldine, a businesswoman.

“We are seeing more people from upcountry coming to buy clothes for the festive season. We haven’t received as many buyers as we expect but this is by far better,” Geraldine said. The building is teeming with buyers looking to take advantage of early prices to avoid being caught up as days approach.

Shops in town have stocked up goods for Christmas including Christmas trees, decorations, and lighting but shop owners are lamenting about mobile hawkers of festive season merchandise causing jitters among shop owners who accuse street vendors of hijacking clients.

“We want city authorities to come in and ensure that there is no chaos which confuses clients. We want to do business in a more organized way so that people can fully experience a good festive season,” Geraldine added.

The lighting and décor ushering in the festive season have got city dwellers upbeat, anticipating a more joyous Christmas, despite economic shortfalls and frugality that many might experience this festive season.

Several buildings including the I&M Building in town, the Bank of Kigali, and many others have outdone themselves, in what seems like a competition to show who is shining more than the other.

Kigali roundabouts are among the most decorated during the festive season.

View of blinking, sparkly decorations on landmark buildings in Kigali.

New, sparkly decorations light up Kigali streets.

Amusing decorations at Kigali Alliance Business Center.


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