Where is the world's largest Christmas tree?

Reese Witherspoon and the Obamas light this year's National Christmas Tree. Image: Getty.

It's Christmas in just over a week, and if you're anything like us, you're just starting to think about maybe going to buy a Christmas tree. 

To whet your appetites for all things evergreen, our friends at Statista have made us this attractive chart showing where the tallest trees in the world are located. The data is a little inconsistent – some are the record height for that city, while others are a height consistently hit every year – but all have in common the fact they're made of Christmas tree materials. 

If those last three words confused you, let us elaborate. Some of the trees on the list below are traditional trees, grown out of the ground, all in one go. But some are built by Christmas tree builders (yes, this is a job) by riveting together lots of bits of other Christmas trees. This, according to the people who decide these things, still qualifies as a tree. Go figure. 

Click to expand.

The tallest tree of all, in Dortmund, Germany, is a prime example of this more creative approach to tall trees. At around 46m or 150 feet tall every year, it is enormous, the King Kong of Christmas trees: 

Image: dortmunderweihnachtsmarkt.de.

The tree weighs around 40,000 kg, takes four weeks to construct (a job done in recent years by the Weise construction company) and is coated in 48,000 electric lights. It forms the centrepiece of Dortmund's Christmas market, which draws thousands of tourists and kind of explains why the relatively small German city invests in a 40 tonne Christmas tree every year. 

At the other end of the scale is the White House's National Christmas Tree, transported down every year from Alaska and usually standing between 30 and 40 feet high. This is an honest-to-God tree, unaugmented by bits of other trees. It is, however, surrounded by smaller versions, which in turn represent the 50 states, the District of Columbia and the five territories:

London's tree, standing at 65.6 feet in Trafalgar Square, has been gifted every year since 1947 by the people of Oslo as a gesture of thanks for Britain's support during the Second World War. This year's model, however, has been criticised for being a "bit wonky", and had to be straightened after it was erected: 

Perhaps as a result of these attacks, the tree has established a pushy and emotionally needy Twitter presence which inserts itself into any conversation about the tree, Trafalgar Square, or anything remotely related to itself:


Given it's only eighth on our list, perhaps it's suffering from short-tall-tree syndrome. 

 
 
 
 

The Fire Brigades Union’s statement on Theresa May’s resignation is completely damning

Grenfell Tower. Image: Getty.

Just after 10 this morning, Theresa May announced that she would resign as Britain’s prime minister on 7 June. A mere half an hour later, a statement from Royal Institute of British Architects president Ben Derbyshire arrived in my inbox with a ping:

“The news that Theresa May will step down as Prime Minister leaves the country in limbo while the clock ticks down to the latest deadline of 31 October. While much is uncertain, one thing remains clear – a no deal is no option for architecture or the wider construction sector. Whoever becomes the next Prime Minister must focus on taking the country forward with policies beyond Brexit that tackle the major challenges facing the country such as the housing crisis and climate change emergency.”

I was a bit baffled by this – why would the architecture profession try to get its thoughts into a political story? But then Merlin Fulcher of Architects Journal put me right:

Well you know construction is a larger contributor to GDP than financial services, and most of the work UK architects do is for export, and at least half of the largest practice (Foster + Partners) are EU, so there's a lot at stake

— Merlin Fulcher (@merlinfulcher) May 24, 2019

So, the thoughts of the RIBA president are an entirely legitimate thing to send to any construction sector-adjacent journalists who might be writing about today’s big news, and frankly I felt a little silly.

Someone else who should be feeling more than a little silly, though, is Theresa May herself. When listing her government’s achievements, such as they were, she included, setting up “the independent public inquiry into the tragedy at Grenfell Tower” – a fire in a West London public housing block in June 2017 – “to search for the truth, so nothing like it can ever happen again, and so the people who lost their lives that night are never forgotten”.

Matt Wrack, general secretary of the Fire Brigades Union, is having precisely none of this. Here’s his statement:

“Many of the underlying issues at Grenfell were due to unsafe conditions that had been allowed to fester under Tory governments and a council for which Theresa May bears ultimate responsibility. The inquiry she launched has kicked scrutiny of corporate and government interests into the long-grass, denying families and survivors justice, while allowing business as usual to continue for the wealthy. For the outgoing Prime Minister to suggest that her awful response to Grenfell is a proud part of her legacy is, frankly, disgraceful.”

A total of 72 people died in the Grenfell fire. At time of writing, nobody has been prosecuted.

Jonn Elledge is editor of CityMetric and the assistant editor of the New Statesman. He is on Twitter as @jonnelledge and on Facebook as JonnElledgeWrites.

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