Britain’s most famous Christmas tree is the giant Norwegian spruce which towers over London’s Trafalgar Square throughout the festive season. The 82ft tree has been an annual gift to London from the people of Norway since 1947, in recognition of Britain’s support during the Second World War, and its lofty boughs are decked with hundreds of vertical strings of light bulbs.
But in other parts of the capital and across the UK there are Christmas tree displays that organisers boast are even bigger and better and well worth a look.
Britain’s biggest living Christmas tree
It’s a whopper at 118 ft (36 metres, or taller than three double decker buses). The Giant Redwood tree was planted in 1890 at Wakehurst. This country estate in West Sussex is leased from the National Trust and managed by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Probably brought back from California by plant hunters as a sapling, the enormous tree has been decorated for the last 20 years. It takes two days and a cherry picker crane for 1,800 low-energy lamps to be put in place. It’s so bright that pilots use the Wakehurst Christmas tree as a beacon when coming into land at nearby Gatwick Airport.The lights are switched on at 3.15pm over the festive period. For full opening times and prices, visit kew.org/wakehurst.
The largest number of Christmas trees fixed to a building
The Churchill Arms in Notting Hill, London, is a much-loved local fixture, adorned in the summer with hundreds of brightly coloured hanging baskets - and in winter decked with 90 trees and 21,000 lights. This summer pub manager Gerry O’Brien called time after 32 years behind the bar in Kensington Church Street, but his successor, former general manager James Keogh, says the OTT festive tradition will continue.
A Christmas tree maze
Thirty Christmas trees aglow with fairy lights make up the magical Edinburgh winter maze, open from 18 November to 6 January. At the centre is the Elves’ workshop, where Santa’s little helpers hand out kids a wee treat. Tickets cost £3.50 and are date specific but there are no time slots - admission is on a first come, first served basis. The Christmas maze is part of Edinburgh’s impressive festive celebrations, including rides, an ice rink and free fireworks.
Britain’s tallest artificial Christmas tree
At the Cheshire Oaks outlet village near Ellesmere Port in north west England, the 90ft tall Christmas tree is an annual fixture. The walk-through tree weighs a staggering 18 tons, is held together with more than 2,000 nuts and bolts, has seven miles of electric cables and is decorated with some 20,000 giant baubles. It takes six days to erect the tree, which can withstand wind speeds of more than 150mph. Inside children can meet Mr and Mrs Claus in their grotto each Saturday in the run-up to Christmas. Entry is free but £1 recommended donations are given to the NSPCC.
A singing seasonal tree
It might look like something out of Stranger Things but this is actually a singing Christmas tree installation commissioned for the Victoria and Albert Museum’s Grand Entrance. ‘The Singing Tree’, created by set designer Es Devlin, is brought to life via machine learning and thousands of words collected from the public. All these contributions are combined and processed by an algorithm into an audio-visual carol, which illuminates the Christmas tree, accompanied by an interactive choir of human and synthesised voices. You can contribute your own festive word by clicking here or when you visit the museum.
A festive floral tree
A spectacular floral Christmas tree takes pride of place at St Pancras International train station until 3 January 2018. Designed by luxury florist Moyses Stevens, the 47ft floral ‘tree’ is created from over 15,000 flowers and took 1,151 man hours to create. The tree’s branches are interwoven with flowers like roses and hydrangeas (and no, we have no idea how it’s watered or doesn’t droop).
A Christmas tree powered by happy memories
Most definitely not your average fir, this seven-metre tall tree gets its glow on when powered by positive festive memories.
The fairy lights on the tree shine brighter the more people share their happy thoughts and memories on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #LightUpXmas, in an initiative developed by Marie Curie.
The charity wants to shine a light on the work their nurses and volunteers do to support people with terminal illnesses and their families.
A world first, the clever conifer will be located in front of the London Eye on the Southbank between 4 and 17 December.
London’s largest Christmas tree
The cobbled piazza in Covent Garden is the magical setting for the evergreen laying claim to London’s ‘largest hand-picked Christmas tree’. Positioned in a huge tub, the 55ft spruce was selected from Woods Farm in Solihull where over a million festive trees are grown. A colossal 30,000 lights, which weigh up to three tonnes, are used to decorate the tree. Once January comes, the tree is taken to a recycling plant to be cut into wood chips. In the market there are 40 mistletoe chandeliers and 320 metres of garlands for a twinkly spectacular.
A festival of Christmas trees
One hundred decorated tree are on show at the annual Christmas Tree Festival at the Crooked Spire Church in Chesterfield. Each tree is individually decorated by different families and groups within the community. Entrance is free (although donations are welcome) and you can also take a tour up the famous twisted spire. Churches in South Wales also hold Christmas tree festivals, while the Isle of Wight’s Brighstone Christmas tree festival is in its 21st year.
This festive season, Cadbury is making Christmas wishes come true and bringing festive joy to children, families and local communities. Head to Cadvent.co.uk to see generous gifts brought to life and the true spirit of Christmas captured.
The residents of one small village are surprised by a spectacular Christmas party, complete with a festive tree and plenty of chocolate, all courtesy of Cadbury.