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Trafalgar Square lights switch-on goes virtual due to virus crisis

Traditional Christmas tree gift from Norway will be unveiled through online stream

20 November, 2020 — By Tom Foot

Ambassador to Norway, Richard Wood, at the tree felling with Oslo’s mayor, Marianne Borgen

A FOUR-tonne Christmas tree is on its way to Trafalgar Square from Oslo in a festive tradition dating to 1947 in defiance of the Covid-19 pandemic.

The giant tree comes with thanks from Norwegians for Britain sheltering their king from the Nazis.

The tree was axed by school children and dignitaries at a felling ceremony in a forest outside Oslo on Tuesday.

Westminster Council will install the tree but the annual Christmas lights switch-on event will not be open to the public.

It will be streamed online, without the public, with performances from the Salvation Army, the Poetry Society and choir of St Martin-in-the-Fields.

The four-tonne tree cut for Trafalgar Square

Lord Mayor of Westminster Jonathan Glanz said: “This is the first time since 1947 that we have had to do things differently, but the public’s safety comes first.

“I look forward to hosting a brilliant virtual ceremony for the public to enjoy safely from the comfort of their own homes, to say thank you to our friends in Oslo for their gift of this tree and to properly mark the ‘nation’s Christmas tree’ arriving to take pride of place in Trafalgar Square.

“Now, more than ever, it is important to come together and celebrate this much-loved Christmas tradition, to bring everyone some festive cheer at the end of a difficult year.”

The tradition started in 1947, when King Haakon VII, who ruled Norway for 52 years, sent a tree as a thank-you gift to Britain, to where he had escaped after the Nazi invasion of Norway.

• The virtual tree lighting ceremony will be on December 3 at 6pm, via YouTube and Facebook.


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