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Christmas market success – partly thanks to controversial tree
More than 1.5 million people visited the 11th Brussels Christmas Market over the holiday period, reports Flanders News. The market opened on November 30 and finished yesterday. According to Brussels mayor Freddy Thielemans and the alderman responsible for tourism, Philippe Close, the success was in part due to the controversial electronic Christmas tree that stood on the city’s Grand’Place. More than 1.5 million people visited Winter Wonders – broadly similar to last year’s numbers. However, hotels in the capital reported a rise of 3 to 4% in bookings during the month of December compared to the same period in 2011, with, on average, around 65% of available rooms occupied. “The buzz surrounding the electronic Christmas tree has given Brussels an avant-garde image,” Close told journalists, saying that the tree had been the subject of 200 articles in the foreign press, 100 domestic press articles and 50 television reports. The tree was climbed 6,936 times, raising €8,130 for the housing charity Samusocial. However, it attracted criticism and Close promised that this year the Grand’Place decorations will include a traditional Christmas tree.