The Classic, the Quirky, and the Absolute Most Festive Christmas Trees Around the World
London offers up a little something for everyone: an LED-block tree with a slide winding through it in Wembley Park, a traditional tree in Trafalgar Square that’s gifted by the city of Oslo each year, and a giant living redwood delicately decorated by conservationists at Wakehurst Place, south of Gatwick Airport. And that's just to name a few.
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In the U.S., the Rockefeller Center tree in New York City may be one of the most famous and most visited trees in the world. But visitors also flock to the quirkier creations, including the hubcap tree on Baltimore’s “Christmas Street,” and a sand sculpture tree in West Palm Beach, Florida.
Trees in Europe range from the classically decorated showstoppers at the Vatican and in Milan to a holographic tree at the Rijksmuseum in Amsterdam and an artist-created wooden structure that visitors can climb in Rakvere, Estonia.
Here are 30 of the most sparkly, most innovative, most Christmas-y Christmas trees worth traveling the world to see.
Design agency Droog created the spectacular hologram tree that floats (and rotates, and changes color) above the Rijksmuseum’s public atrium.
Victoria & Albert Museum, London
Famous set designer Es Devlin created The Singing Tree for the Victoria & Albert Museum in London. Visitors contribute words to construct the audio-visual installation, which also features an ensemble of digital and human voices.
Wembley Park, London
If you’re looking for an interactive tree experience, head to London’s Wembley Park. There you’ll find the Slideatron attraction; it looks a bit like a Tetris-inspired Christmas tree, has a pulsing light show every hour, and houses a slide in its core.
Residents of the tiny medieval town of Gubbio, Italy intall more than 1,200 lights in the shape of a Christmas tree on the side of Mount Ingino each December.
St. Pancras Station, London
Luxury floral designer Moyses Stevens designed this ombré flower tree for the St. Pancras International station in London. More than 15,000 flowers – including roses, hydrangeas, and orchids – decorate the 47-foot-tall tree.
Les Sapins de Noel des Createurs, Paris
For trees with high style and lots of heart, head to Paris for the annual Les Sapin de Noel des Createurs charity exhibit. Famous designers, artists and architects – including Jean-Paul Gaultier, India Mahdavi, Emmanuel Ungaro and Olivier Theyskens – design trees to benefit the non-profit’s chosen charity each year.
Westonbirt Arboretum, Tetbury, England
Stroll along the Enchanted Christmas trail at the Westonbirt Arboretum for a different kind of Christmas tree experience, including colorful, illuminated faces projected onto the trunks of trees.
Lights blaze on 34th Street in Baltimore’s Hampden West neighborhood each year when residents decorate their homes and lawns for the “Miracle on 34th St.” Tucked in among the bright lights is a sculptural tree made by local artist Jim Pollock using more than 100 salvaged hubcaps.
Cairns, Queensland, Australia
The average December temperature in Cairns, Australia is around 84 degrees. The city illuminates a large fig tree instead of the more traditional pine, spruce or fir.
The traditional Christmas market in Dortmund, Germany houses one of the world’s tallest holiday trees. The 145-foot-tall tree is made up of more than 1,000 smaller fir trees, and takes four weeks to construct. A 13-foot-tall angel is its topper.
The stunning Christmas tree in Vilnius, Lithuania’s UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town is draped with layers of colorful lights. The tree’s more than 70,000 bulbs can be seen as you fly into the local airport.
Sao Paulo, Brazil
A towering tree is constructed every year in Sao Paulo’s Ibirapuera Park.
Galeries Lafayette, Paris
Many guests come just for the Galeries Lafayette’s highly anticipated shop window displays, but the soaring, whimsical tree under the department store’s famous dome is also a must see.
The city of Gdansk, Poland spent more than 250,000 euros on its holiday decorations this year, and the city’s traditionally decorated and brightly lit Christmas tree does not disappoint.
A glittering wire-and-light tree shines across from Tokyo’s picturesque Rainbow Bridge, on Tokyo Bay.
A giant, gilded tree sits in Milan’s Piazza Duomo.
ALL the trees in Sendai, Japan get decorated for the holidays, setting the whole city aglow.
The Gerbrandy radio tower in the Netherlands transforms – with the help of long strands of lights – into one of the world’s tallest “trees” each year.
The Estonian town of Rakvere always offers up an innovative, alternative Christmas tree. Past years’ trees have been constructed of stained glass windows and cog wheels; the abstract tree for 2017 was designed by local artist Teet Suur and invites visitors to climb the wooden structure.
Rockefeller Center, New York
The 2017 Rockefeller Center Christmas tree – a Norway Spruce from Pennsylvania – was found by the head Rock Center gardener in 2010 when he attended a football game at State College. Special care is taken to make sure the famous tree is perfect from all angles, ensuring it looks dazzling in person (and on TV and Instagram).
An unexpectedly modern, all-metal tree sits on the Spanish Steps in Rome, Italy.
St. Petersburg, Russia
The lace-like design of the decorations on the Palace Square Christmas tree in St. Petersburg look especially dreamy when it’s snowing.
In winter, many trees in Japan gardens are enclosed in yuki-tsuri, or “snow suspenders”. The cones are meant to protect more delicate trees from snow damage and have absolutely nothing to do with the holidays. But the pompom toppers and cone-like shape make them look like Christmas trees from another planet.
West Palm Beach, Florida
Six hundred tons of sand are used to create Sandi the sandcastle tree, a West Palm Beach holiday tradition since 2011. It even has its own Instagram account: @sanditreewpb.
Wakehurst Place, Haywards Heath, England
Conservation specialists from Wakehurst Place carefully decorate the giant redwood growing on the property’s grounds each year. The process takes two days, and the huge tree can be seen by pilots flying into Gatwick once it’s fully lit.
LEGOLAND (multiple locations)
LEGOLAND locations around the world build intricate, not-to-be-missed LEGO trees each Christmas season.
Trafalgar Square, London
Looking for a bit of historical significance along with your Christmas tree? Since 1947, the city of Oslo has provided the Trafalgar Square tree as a gift to the citizens of Britain in recognition of the support British troops gave to Norway during WWII.
Lights and metal – not pine needles – form the sophisticated and colorful tree erected in Turin, Italy’s Piazza Castello.
Pope John Paul II started the tradition of decorating a tree in St. Peter’s Square back in 1982. Practice looking up at this huge, simply decorated tree before heading inside to stare up at the Sistine Chapel.
US Capitol, Washington, DC
The White House Christmas tree gets more airtime, but the Capitol tree, shining bright in front of the Capitol building, is worth a visit. The tree’s location makes for a great photo op, with the dome of the Capitol building rising up behind the tree in one direction and the Washington Monument towering above it from another angle.