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City sparkler! Brussels’ Christmas tree makes triumphal journey to the Grand Place
The arrival of the freshly-felled Nordmann spruce in the cobbled Brussels square early on Thursday morning marked the symbolic start of the city’s festive season.
Crowds gathered to see the 50-year-old 22-metre fir erected in front of the gothic town hall. A team of professionals are now preparing to start decorating it on Saturday. During the three-day operation, they will adorn it with 140 ornaments representing the 11 indigenous nations of Quebec.
It’s the second year that the Canadian first people are the guests of honour at the city’s Winter Wonders programme. Emblematic decorations include a Mi'kmaq star, snowshoe, inukshuk and gold and silver dreamcatchers. Some 50 white bead lights and 2kms of illuminated garlands are set to provide the final flourish along with the installation of a traditional creche.
The lights of this festive centrepiece will be switched on for the first time on 24 November at 18.00. This opening ceremony kicks off the 23rd edition of the city’s festivities that run until 7 January. A sound and light show every evening in the Grand Place is also conceived by the Quebec nations.
Gift from private owner in Flanders
After previous editions when the Grand Place’s crowning glory was a present from another EU nation, to a couple of years when less-popular contemporary installations graced the square, the city now sources a traditional tree closer to home. It’s a suitable compromise in these eco-aware times.
The search for the 2023 seasonal spruce was, as ever, meticulous. Gifting the 2023 offering were the owners of the Nordmann that grew in the garden of their house in Lier, Antwerp province. Planted in the 1970s, it had inevitably started invading the residential property.
The felling and transport of the lofty evergreen on Wednesday was provided by Inter-Arbo, a garden nursery dating from 1915 that specialises in tree surgery.
It was a major operation to cut down the tree and safely hoist it with a crane onto the waiting lorry. Under police escort, the precious wide cargo was driven to Brussels in the early hours. On arrival in the capital, the Dick Frères group took charge of its erection.
“The long-awaited moment has finally arrived, to welcome the traditional Christmas tree to the most beautiful square in the world! More than a tradition, this tree is also a symbol of finding light even in the darkest times. I am therefore delighted to see the eyes of Brussels residents and tourists shine in the light of these garlands,” announced Brussels mayor Philippe Close.
And once the festivities are over, the 50-metre Lier tree will be recycled into a variety of wooden objects.
Photo: (main image) EDA city of Brussels; tree in the Grand Place ©Belga; other photos ©city of Brussels