It’s the most wonderful time of the year! Worldwide traditions have shaped celebrations and festivities would be incomplete without a Christmas tree. The history of the Christmas tree is long and rich and one that has altered over the years. Here, we explore the most impressive trees around the world, all waiting to be discovered on a Christmas cruise.
The world’s most impressive Christmas trees:
- Copenhagen, Denmark
- Gubbio, Italy
- London, UK
- New York, USA
- Paris, France
- Riga, Latvia
From the 19th November Tivoli Gardens, Copenhagen’s popular amusement park and pleasure gardens, opens its gates for the festive season. A feast for the senses, the gardens boast some of the most magical Christmas offerings in Europe and not forgetting its impressive tree and market. The amusement park first opened its gates in 1843, making it the oldest in the world. The gardens have been a hive of activity since and always impress with its festive displays.
We chatted to Nadia from Scandi Mummy who recommended a trip to Tivoli Gardens, “I love Christmas in Copenhagen. In recent years, Tivoli Gardens have opened as an attraction during November and December as well as the summer period. Here, you’ll find proper Danish ‘hygge’ including a beautiful Christmas tree. With Tivoli Gardens being the oldest amusement park in the world it holds so much history which in many ways is reflected in this tree.
We also chatted to the team at Tivoli Gardens who told us what to expect, “As always, the Christmas season begins with the lighting of the 35,250 electric candles on the large Christmas tree in front of the Concert Hall. It tends to be a Copenhagen tradition to come and see the lighting of the tree. In Denmark, it is a tradition that the children in the family decorate the tree often with real candles and homemade Christmas decorations. On Christmas Eve, we dance around the tree singing Christmas carols. Manually over 80,000 Christmas baubles are hung around Tivoli Gardens to create a fantastic and pretty Christmas scenery.”
Gubbio, a small medieval town in Italy, adds its own twist to traditional Christmas tree styles by offering an installation that is bigger and more impressive than anywhere else. Named ‘The World’s Largest Christmas Tree’ in 1991, the tree is installed on the side of Mount Ingino and takes up a vast 650 metres and consists of 3,000 multicoloured lights. A tradition that started in 1981 by the people of the town, the tree is lit every year on December 7th and in recent years has been illuminated by Pope Francis.
Fodors reported on the illuminations, “Measuring 1,475 feet at its base and 2,363 in height, this is no normal tree. It’s not even a tree. Thousands of lights are strung together by more than 5 miles of electrical cords, creating a stunning outline that can be seen up to 30 miles away. Its lighting celebration is no small event either, with such luminaries as Pope Francis doing the honours in 2014. This year, the Italian Aeronautic Military’s tricolour jets officiate, painting the sky with the green, white and red of the Italian flag.”
A list about the world’s most impressive Christmas trees would be incomplete without mentioning London. Every year a tree is erected in Trafalgar Square. The tree in this famous square has a warming meaning behind it, being gifted to the city of London since 1947 as an offering from the people of Norway in recognition of Britain’s support during WW2.
Insight Guides reports a little more on the background of the famous Norwegian spruce, “The trees are large, usually over 20m tall and are chosen and cut in a ceremony attended by the mayor of Oslo and a number of British dignitaries before beginning the 1,100km journey to their new London home. The Norwegian spruce crosses the North Sea, reaching the docks of the East of England, where it is loaded upon a truck to make its way to the heart of the city, eventually being winched into place by a crane in the early hours of a morning in early December.”
New York, USA
The Christmas tree at The Rockefeller Centre is perhaps the most famous in the world. The first Christmas tree erected here was done so in 1931 and was a 20-foot balsam fir decorated in cranberries, paper garlands and tin cans. Since the first vision in 1931, there has been a tree in the same location every year with decorations most recently reaching a whopping 90 feet.
We spoke to Jackie from The Globetrotting Teacher who saw the Rockefeller Tree when visiting New York, she said: “It’s truly spectacular and a New York Christmas holiday is a must. The decorations inside Rockefeller Center add to the display of lights and festivities. It just wouldn’t be a very New York Christmas if you didn’t see the Rockefeller Tree!” The New York decorations go above and beyond a magnificent tree as the installations around the city are breathtaking. A huge ice rink is put in place below the tree and large, glowing angels line the path down to the bottom of the centre - it truly is an unmissable and utterly magical view. See all featured US Christmas cruises >
The city of love at Christmas is truly magical. The Christmas tree that features at the Galeries Lafayette in Paris goes above and beyond to impress. No expense is spared when it comes to the magical tree that graces the centre of this already impressive shopping centre with yearly themes ranging from Swarovski crystal installations to upside down, hanging trees - no two years are the same.
Often graced by some famous names, the opening ceremony is a show not to be missed, so if you’re planning to visit Paris on your next cruise, make your way into this metropolis of magic. Take a wander inside the building and gasp at the intricate details and the time and care that has been put into making the LED display bigger and better every year - it truly is the most extravagant tree the world has ever seen.
Known by locals as the Christmas tree capital of the world, Riga in Latvia is also said to be the location of the first-ever documented decorated Christmas tree. We chatted to Ilze, blogger at Let the Journey Begin, who thinks you can’t beat the beauty of the tree in Riga, “I’m probably biased but for me, there is no better winter holiday destination than Riga, Latvia: the city where the first Christmas tree was decorated more than 500 years ago. Riga’s main Christmas tree illuminates a bustling Christmas market at the foot of the majestic medieval Riga Cathedral.
“But the self-proclaimed Christmas tree capital of the world has more to offer. Every year the urban art festival, Ziemassvētku egļu ceļš, lights up the city with dozens of extraordinary Christmas trees that play with material and light And take note: while most European cities have closed their markets and packed up their holiday decorations by Christmas Day, the festivities in Riga continue until the Orthodox Christmas in early January.”