Johannesburg’s OR Tambo International Airport is a bustling place. It’s Africa’s busiest airport and around 25 million passengers pass through the airport annually, heading for destinations across South Africa and – thanks to having non-stop flights to all continents except Antarctica – the world.
Christmas in South Africa is an important festive occasion, but it’s not quite the same as it is in Europe. It’s the middle of summer, which means that visitors to the airport aren’t thinking about sledging, snow and mulled wine, but rather shorts, summer holidays and surfboards!
As an international airport that greets visitors from around the world, O R Tambo wanted to create a festive, welcoming atmosphere that honored the season, but it needed to be done in a way that was appropriate to the South African climate and culture. They wanted to create a festive display that would resonate with local residents and to give foreign visitors an immediate taste of the country on arrival.
MK Illumination South Africa had already been featured quite prominently in the local and national press for their 3D rhino in Sandton City, designed to support the Save the Rhino campaign.
When O R Tambo Airport approached them to discuss ideas, MK Illumination was able to create a culturally-relevant lighting display for the festive season guaranteed to “wow” anyone passing through the airport.
They worked with O R Tambo to identify the best places to install two stand-out 3D light sculptures: an enormous 10m eco-tree in the arrivals area, and a mother and baby rhino that welcomed people to the departures area.
Both sculptures were custom-designed and hand-finished, and glittered with thousands of energy-efficient LED lightpoints, attracting the eye of every passerby.
Visitors and travelers were entranced and O R Tambo Airport, the gateway to Africa, met their objective of presenting a festive lighting display that was original, atmospheric and full of African flair.
“These festive works of art quickly became an integral part of Christmas at O R Tambo,” said Lee Rasmussen, Managing Director of MK Illumination South Africa. “Both the tree and the rhinos will be back again this year.”