The 2021 Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is on its way to London, after being felled in a forest in Oslo.
The tree comes from Oslo each year, a gift from the Norwegian people in a tradition dating back to 1947. That much is common knowledge. But how does a towering Spruce get from Norwegian forests to urban London for the holiday season?
How is the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree chosen?
It's not simply a case of heading into the forest with an axe and swinging it at the first tree that takes your fancy. Certain trees are identified as Trafalgar Square material years in advance, and given special care to help them reach their Christmas potential. This year's specimen is 24m tall and thought to be around 80 years old.
How does the Trafalgar Square tree get from Oslo to London?
The felling itself is a whole ceremony involving Lord Mayor of Westminster, Cllr Andrew Smith, the Mayor of Oslo, Marianne Borgen and a lot of carol-singing Norwegian children from Manglerud School and Ellingsrudåsen School. This year's ceremony went ahead on 16 November.
Once cut, the Trafalgar Square tree makes a beeline for London. It's loaded onto a lorry and driven 100km+ south from Oslo to the port of Brevik, where it's moved onto a ship (avoiding any contact with salt water, which could damage it) and sets sail to the UK. It usually arrives at the port of Harwich, but last year it arrived into Immingham, near Hull, under cover of darkness:
Up in the middle of the night to welcome a very important #festive delivery to the Port of Immingham - the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree @trafalgartree— Gravity PR (@GravityPR4) November 21, 2020
With the fab #DFDS team, @markflynnphoto and Grit Pictures Ltd @CityWestminster Christmas2020 #christmasiscoming pic.twitter.com/z0rm88uaez
From there, it's another lorry ride to central London, where a waiting team uses a hydraulic crane to winch it into place in the Square. The same team hangs those lights which split Londoners every year, but before you mock them, bear in mind that they're a nod to the Norwegian way of decorating a tree.
When will the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree go up and be lit this year?
A tree lighting ceremony will take place on Trafalgar Square on Thursday 2 December 2021, 6-6.30pm, after last year's ceremony was a virtual one. The ceremony consists of speeches from the Lord Mayor of Westminster and the Mayor of Oslo, performances from the Salvation Army, the Poetry Society and the St Martin-in-the-Fields Choir and reading from young ambassadors from Westminster Befriend a Family.
Follow the tree on Twitter (a sentence we never tire of typing) for further updates on its journey.