One tradition that transcends all climates, cultures and faiths is the Christmas tree. First started in Germany, when fir trees were brought into the home and decorated with candles, the seasonal tradition is now worldwide. Check out these dazzling Christmas trees, including a few record-breakers, and discover where you can see them on your seasonal travels.
Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, Rio de Janeiro
Rio de Janeiro is home to what has become known as the world’s tallest floating Christmas tree, according to the Guinness Book of Records. Started in 1996, the annual floating Christmas tree is officially lit to the accompaniment of a dazzling fireworks show and is covered with 3.1 million lights! The 26-metre high structure weighs 542,000 kilos and floats in the lagoon where it reflects beautifully in the surrounding water, attracting thousands of tourists.
Citadel Outlets, Los Angeles
The world’s largest live Christmas tree can be seen at the Citadel Outlets in Los Angeles and is topped by the world’s largest bow! Erected in mid-October 2015, the 47-metre tree was felled in the Shasta-Trinity National Forest when it was said to be near the end of its natural life. The tree is apparently twice as tall as the iconic Hollywood sign. As for the bow, it is six metres tall, 11 metres wide and has two tails trailing 23 metres in length. It’s a whopper!
Trafalgar Square, London
The Christmas tree erected annually in the centre of Trafalgar Square has a particularly poignant story attached to it. Each year, a Norwegian Spruce tree is chosen from the forests of Oslo, Norway. It is cut during a ceremony attended by the British Ambassador for Norway, the Mayor of Oslo and the Lord Mayor of Westminster (London) before being carefully transported to the UK and erected in the heart of London.
Why all the pomp and ceremony? The tree is a gift from the people of Norway in gratitude to the UK for the support provided during World War 2. The annual tree-giving has taken place every year since 1947. The six-metre tree will be gracing Trafalgar Square from 3 December 2015 until 6 January 2016. Every evening before Christmas carol singers gather beneath the tree to raise funds for charity.
Puerta del Sol, Madrid
You can even step inside the 12-storey-high Christmas tree in Madrid‘s central Puerta del Sol and view the stunning tree from the inside out! Priding itself on being an eco-friendly city, Madrid’s glittering artificial tree is complemented by traditional garlands of energy-efficient light bulbs. This year the lights are the creation of fashion designers Angel Schlesser and Hannibal Laguna and architect Sergio Sebastián, among others.
Rockefeller Center, New York
New York City holds its breath in anticipation of the annual tree lighting at the Rockefeller Center. The televised event is held in early December and includes live guest performances by top musicians such as Mariah Carey. The 23-metre outdoor tree measures 14 metres in diameter and weighs around 12,000 kilos. It’s lit by 30,000 lights that bring this beautiful tree to life until 6 January 2016.
Old Town Square, Prague
In the city that gave us the carol ‘Good King Wenceslas’, Prague‘s Christmas tree presides over the festive Christmas Market in Old Town Square. Towering above the wooden stalls and lighted huts selling handcrafted gifts and decorations, the tree is festooned with lights.
Democracy Square, Honduras
To date, the record for the largest human Christmas tree is held by the gathering of people in Democracy Square in Tegucigalpa, Honduras on 1 December 2014. The tree shape was made up of 2945 people and took 6 minutes 28 seconds to create. The record was previously held by Argentina, so it remains to be seen whether Honduras will retain the title in 2015.
Galeries Lafayette, Paris
The upscale Galeries Lafayette department store on Boulevard Haussmann in Paris seems to have been designed around the annual four-storey Christmas tree that traditionally fills the central atrium of the 1912 building. This seasonal centerpiece usually sits beneath the Art Nouveau dome and can be admired from viewing stations on different levels. In 2014 it made the news when an innovative upside-down tree suspended from the dome.
White House, Washington DC
Gracing the lawn in front of the White House in Washington DC is the beautiful Capitol Christmas tree. The 2015 ‘People’s Tree’ made a 6437-kilometre journey from the Chugach National Forest in Alaska, including a series of stops in Alaska, Washington State, Wyoming, Montana, South Dakota, Nebraska and Ohio for well-wishers to see it. The tree will be lighting up the grounds of the White House from 2 December 2015.
Orchard Road, Singapore
Few cities out-sparkle Singapore at Christmas! From mid-November, Orchard Road is transformed into a sparkling 2.2 kilometre fairyland stretching from Tanglin Mall to Plaza Singapore. Giant Christmas trees are erected at Ngee Ann City and ION Orchard as part of this magical season for shoppers, making this a must-see for visitors and residents alike.
Each of these epic Christmas trees will put smiles on faces all over the world, but surely the best Christmas tree of all is the one that magically lights up the eyes of your family and friends this year. Happy holidays!
Credit: Getty Images, Creative commons