Christmas just isn’t the same without a proud evergreen glittering with lights, festooned with kitschy decorations, and surrounded by presents. These traditional holiday twigs don’t just decorate our living rooms—Christmas trees can be found around the world. Here are five of the most magnificent Christmas Trees from New York to Dortmund.
Rockefeller Center, New York
The Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has been a national tradition since 1933. Every year, the Head Gardener of the Rockefeller Center selects the perfect spruce for the annual celebration. The tree is shipped to New York on a telescoping trailer and installed at the famous landmark in late November. NBC broadcasts the subsequent tree lighting ceremony around the world for millions of people. The tree, adorned with 50,000 lights and a massive crystal star, is the heart of the holiday wonderland at the center of New York complete with a skating rink. More than that, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has been a beacon of hope and celebration from the Great Depression to the Great Recession—and this year is no different. In January, the Rockefeller Center donates the enormous tree to Habitat for Humanity.
Trafalgar Square, London
The tree in Trafalgar Square is donated to the people of Britain by the city of Oslo, Norway. Neighbors separated by the North Sea, the United Kingdom and Norway fought together against the Germans during the Second World War. In gratitude for their assistance, which included sheltering the Norwegian Royal Family, the city of Oslo has sent an enormous tree to London every year since 1947. The tree is decorated in the traditional Norwegian style and lit by the Lord Mayor of Westminster, accompanied by a live band and choir, on the first Thursday in December. It is a focal point for carolers during the “Countdown to Christmas,” who serenade shoppers and tourists until Christmas Day.
Galeries Lafayette, Paris
The Galeries Lafayette has been one of the most beautiful and prestigious department stores in Paris since 1905. At the center of the Galeries Lafayette is an Art Nouveau atrium surmounted by a stained-glass cupola. For years, the store has suspended colossal ornaments above the stylish shoppers below, floating above their massive Christmas Trees and charming art installations. This year, the Galeries commissioned a paper masterpiece. The artist crafted a pristine white tree entirely from paper, complete with Ferris wheel and cable car gliding across the sapphire dome. Delicate paper constructions tell stories about a family of polar bears. This striking Christmas tree is only the latest wonder from the holiday palace of the Galeries Lafayette.
Monte Ingino, Italy
The biggest Christmas tree in the world is 2,130 feet high and 1,148 feet wide—and it’s made out of five miles of electrical cables. Towering above the quaint medieval town of Gubbio is the illuminated outline of a tree on the slopes of Monte Ingino. The unique tree was first laid down in 1981 in honor of the patron saint of the town, Saint Ubaldo, whose church sits on the top of the mountain. The tree has since grown into a giant celebration of Christmas and the local saint. Hundreds of volunteers spend three months checking the wires and reinstalling 3,000 giant bulbs. The town illuminates the entire mountain on the Eve of the Feast of the Immaculate Conception, December 7th. In 1991, it entered the Guinness Book of Records as the biggest ”Christmas Tree” in the world.
Dortmund Christmas Market, Germany
No matter what the Guinness World Book of Records says, the pride of place goes to the Dortmund Christmas Tree in Germany. The crowning glory of the Dortmund Christmas Market is composed of 1,700 fir trees and 1,300 lights topped with a 13-foot angel. Visitors can admire the magnificent tree with a mug of mulled Gluhwein and a shot of brandy from the surrounding market, with 300 stalls selling traditional crafts, candied nuts, and sausages. One of the oldest and most popular Christmas Market’s in Germany, no one can quite match the picturesque decorations and lavish scale of this heartwarming celebration of the holiday spirit.