The annual Christmas Tree-lighting ceremony was held in Athens’ main Syntagma Square on Thursday evening, with a crowd gathered to watch the event.

Syntagma Square lies opposite Greece’s Parliament in the heart of the Greek capital and the center of Athens’ “high street” district.

The 17-meter fir tree was transported from the mountainous central Greece prefecture of Karpenissi and is decorated with more than 24,000 LED lights and hundreds of ornaments. As per the tradition, the municipality is also again putting up holiday lights and decorations around the city, with other municipalities doing the same throughout Greece.

Athens Mayor Costas Bakoyannis served as the MC, with performers later taking the stage to the accompaniment of the Athens municipal band.

The month of December has several important saints’ feast days on the Orthodox Christian ecclesiastical calendar, culminating with the Nativity of Christ on Dec. 25 – Christmas Day – and continuing to New Year’s Eve and Day before the holiday season concludes with the Epiphany or Theophany, on Jan. 6.