Each year since 1947, a Christmas tree has been given to the people of London from the people of Norway in gratitude for Britain’s support for Norway during World War II.
For many Londoners the Christmas tree and carol singing in Trafalgar Square signal the countdown to Christmas.
The 2010 Christmas tree lighting ceremony will take place on Thursday 1 December from 6pm and the tree is lit prior to 6.30pm.
As the event is quite popular it is best to arrive early for a viewing position.
So where does this tree come from?
The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is usually a Norwegian spruce (Picea abies) over 20 metres high and 50-60 years old. It is selected from the forests surrounding Oslo with great care several months, even years, in advance. The Norwegian foresters who look after it describe it fondly as ‘the queen of the forest’.
The tree is felled in November during a ceremony in which the Lord Mayor of Westminster, the British ambassador to Norway and the Mayor of Oslo participate. It is brought to the UK by sea, then completes its journey by lorry.
A specialist rigging team erects it in the square using a hydraulic crane. It is decorated in traditional Norwegian fashion, with vertical strings of lights – energy-efficient light bulbs are used.
How the Christmas tree is green!
The Christmas tree remains in Trafalgar Square until just before the Twelfth Night of Christmas, when it is taken down for recycling.
The tree is chipped and composted, to make mulch, so nothing is wasted!