Noel from Norway
Did you know that the people of Oslo, Norway have been donating a magnificent Christmas tree to the UK each and every year since 1947? The tree is given as a symbol of thanks for the support and friendship of Britain to Norway during the second World War.
Festive focal point
The tree is always a Norwegian Spruce, typically around 50-60 years of age and standing over 20 metres tall. The tree is displayed in pride of place in London’s Trafalgar Square, creating a lovely festive focal point for visitors to admire.
This year’s chosen tree is around 80 years old which is significant as it would have started growing around the time of WW2. It was cut down in November during a ceremony attended by the British Ambassador for Norway, the Lord Mayor of Westminster and the Lord Mayor of Oslo.
This years’ tree would have been chosen around 20 years ago and the trees surrounding it would have been removed to give it space to grow and spread. Apparently, its carers would have regularly talked to it and even hugged it!
After felling, the tree is lowered onto the back of a lorry which has a specially designed crib to stop it getting damaged on its long journey to the UK. The tree is usually transported at night as the roads are closed for its journey – it will be accompanied by a police escort.
Shipping the spruce
On arrival at the Port of Brevik the tree is carefully loaded on to a ship for its epic 550-mile crossing of the North Sea to England. Over the years each Norwegian Spruce has been shipped by boat to the UK. Fred Olsen Line, DFDS and Beck and Pollitzer are regular shippers for the prized Tree.
A jolly journey
Once it arrives at the UK’s Immingham Docks, the tree is stored in a secret location before travelling to Trafalgar Square. The exact route to London is unknown as it is a closely guarded secret, but the tree usually arrives at the capital in the early hours, before the usual traffic congestion.
A specialist team with a crane and rigging are used to erect the Christmas Tree at its iconic spot at Trafalgar Square. This year the tree will be adorned with 500 white lights, which will be switched on the 6th December 2018.
Not every annual tree decoration has gone so smoothly; back in 2008 Blue Peter presenter, Andy Akinwolere, was tasked with placing a large star on top of the tree but he dropped it leaving it slightly damaged; nonetheless, he was allowed to try again once it had been taped up!
Every year, numerous large groups of carol singers will gather around the magnificent tree to sing their festive songs. You will be able to listen to them (or join in) between 4pm and 8pm on weekdays and 2pm to 6pm at weekends.
The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is not the only Norwegian Spruce to be donated to the UK every year…Several other Norwegian cities gift Christmas trees to the UK, specific recipients include The Orkney Islands, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Newcastle, Sunderland and Grimsby. Thank you Norway!
Written by Laura Cardy – Senior Recruitment Consultant – Relocation & Mobility Services at Alchemy Global Talent Solutions.