York-grown Christmas tree chosen for Downing Street
A 20ft-high Christmas tree grown near York will be at the centre of all the political drama this year when it takes pride of place outside 10 Downing Street.
British Christmas Tree Growers AssociationCopyright: British Christmas Tree Growers Association
York Christmas Trees were chosen to provide the giant Nordmann Fir (pictured above) for the prestigious spot after winning Champion Christmas Tree Grower of the Year.
The annual competition has been running since 1999 and this is the first time a winner has been crowned from the north of England.
Oliver Combe, owner of York Christmas Trees, said: “The chance to provide the tree for Downing Street is incredibly exciting and a great reward for all the hard work that our team puts in throughout the year.”
City of Oslo/SturlasonCopyright: City of Oslo/Sturlason
The pandemic may change much about the festive season this year but a special Christmas gift marking international friendship forged during the tough days of wartime is on its way to the capital.
The City of Oslo has sent a giant Norwegian fir to London for over 70 years to thank Londoners for their support during World War Two and this year is no different.
The tree has now started its journey of more than 1,000 miles from Norway to London in time for a virtual lighting ceremony in December.
The fir was felled at a special ceremony by the mayor of Oslo, Marianne Borgen, together with school children from Maridalen school in Oslo, who all witnessed the tree begin its journey to the capital, ready to be up and lit in time for Christmas.
The tree in Trafalgar Square is a symbol of enduring friendship and international co-operation with Norway.
Once the tree arrives in London, it is decorated with Christmas lights – and this symbolism is reflected in the way the tree is chosen and decorated, which is in a traditional Norwegian manner.
Traditionally the Lord Mayor of Westminster travels to Norway for the ceremony but this year’s mayor, Jonathan Glanz, was unable to participate because of coronavirus travel restrictions.
Instead the British Ambassador to Norway Richard Wood represented him.
And there will be no visit this year from Oslo’s mayor or choirs from the city to see the tree in Trafalgar Square.
There will however be a virtual ceremony to celebrate the tree being lit instead.
Mr Glanz said: “This is the first time since 1947 that we have had to do things differently, but the public’s safety comes first."
The ceremony will be screened on 3 December at 18:00, via YouTube and Facebook.
It’s a powerful symbol of friendship across the North Sea and an enduring gift of thanks from one nation to another as they faced their darkest hours.
Every Christmas since 1947 the City of Oslo has sent a Norwegian spruce tree to London as a gift in memory of that wartime support.
It stands as London’s main Christmas tree each year in Trafalgar Square.
And despite the disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic the city of Oslo told the Local Democracy Reporting Service the gift will continue as normal.
A spokeswoman said: “The City of Oslo will be giving the citizens of London a Christmas tree to light up Trafalgar Square this year as well.”
The 21-metre high tree takes pride of place in Trafalgar Square and is a backdrop for Christmas celebrations in central London. For some, its arrival also marks the start of the countdown to Christmas.
It is a gift to thank Britain for its support during World War Two when it gave a home to the Norwegian government and Royal family in exile from 1940 to 1945.
Traditionally the mayors of Westminster and Oslo select and fell the tree in November and school children sing carols as the tree starts its journey to London. London then returns the hospitality at the tree lighting ceremony and carol singing in early December.
However the pandemic this year means there are no plans for Oslo Mayor Marianne Borgen and a choir to visit.
Already this year London has seen the 26-mile London Marathon postponed to a hybrid athletes event on Sunday with other runners clocking up the miles at home, and the cancellation of the Lord Mayor’s Show in November.
The New Year’s Eve fireworks are also cancelled this year because of the pandemic.