13/11/2003

Belfast City Hall set for traditional arrival

One of the most famous Christmas trees in Northern Ireland is set to take up its traditional seasonal position this weekend.

Each year, a tree measuring between 40 and 50 feet tall stands at the front of the City Hall in Belfast, heralding the arrival of the Yuletide in the City.

Famed in its own right, the most famous tree of all was that donated by President Bill Clinton during his visit to Belfast in 1995: that was the only occasion, to date, that the City’s Christmas tree had been obtained from outside Northern Ireland.

However, history was made again in November 2002, when the tree was brought from Scotland for the first time. And, once again this year, the 48-foot Sitka spruce is being cut at Garwachie Lochs in Newton Stewart forest in Galloway, from where it will travel by road to Cairnryan to board an afternoon ferry for arrival at the City Hall on Friday.

Commenting on the arrival of this year's tree, Reg Maxwell, Area Manager with Belfast City Council Parks and Amenities said: “Large Christmas trees are scarce, and selection is critical.

“A number of criteria have to be met: the size and form, a sound straight stem – and, of course, it has to be in a location where a crane can lift it and load it on to a lorry.

"Furthermore, large trees cannot be felled, as cracks can occur in the stem, rendering the tree unstable and likely to fail at a later date: this is a crucial consideration, bearing in mind that the tree is in place outside City Hall for almost two months."

This year, Belfast City Council has teamed up with the BBC’s ‘Children In Need’ appeal for the annual Christmas lights switch on, and Pudsey Bear will be at the City Hall in Belfast at 11am on Friday morning to welcome Reg Maxwell and his team's arrival with the tree.

(MB)

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