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Cliché but true: There’s something magical about the holidays. Walking or driving down a street festooned with bright, sparkling lights could make just about anybody smile, especially when it ends with a spectacular Christmas tree. These trees are beacons in communities, bringing everyone out to “ooh” and “aah” at their beauty. Get in the holiday spirit with seven famous — and beautifully decorated — Christmas trees across the U.S.
The Great Tree in the Walnut Room (Chicago, Illinois)
On the seventh floor of the historic Marshall Fields building (now a Macy’s) in downtown Chicago, visitors can enjoy an enduring tradition of Chicagoans for more than a century — admiring the Great Tree in the Walnut Room, a posh dining room in the department store that opened in 1907. Since then, its annual Christmas tree has rivaled that of the city’s official tree in Millennium Park. The Great Tree in the Walnut Room is 45 feet tall, glitters with more than 6,000 lights and more than 2,000 ornaments, and actually hangs from the ceiling. Why? The floor below the Walnut Room houses the jewelry department, and it has a Tiffany ceiling — the immense weight of the tree (and all those holiday visitors) above it might cause damage.
Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree (New York, New York)
Perhaps the most well-known Christmas tree in the United States, the Rockefeller Center Christmas Tree has been on display annually since 1931. The first Rockefeller tree was 20 feet tall and purchased with money raised by workers at the Center — their families even made all the garland that hung from the tree that year. The Rockefeller Center officially took over funding and planning the tree in 1933 and turned it into an annual tradition with an official lighting ceremony. Now, the tree is around 75 feet tall every year with more than 50,000 lights and a Swarovski star made of three million crystals.
The Nation’s Largest Indoor Tree in the Galleria (Dallas, Texas)
Everything’s bigger in Texas, so perhaps it’s no surprise that the country’s tallest indoor Christmas tree is actually inside a Dallas mall. The 95-foot-tall tree stands at the center of the Galleria, surrounded by an ice-skating rink and lit with about 50,000 LED lights. The tree weighs in at a whopping five tons, and there’s an annual lighting ceremony and a light show that takes place four times each day during the holiday season.
The World’s Largest Fresh-Cut Christmas Tree at The Outlets (San Clemente, California)
Leave it to another mall in the country, The Outlets in San Clemente, Orange County, to host another superlative holiday tree. This is where you can find the world’s largest fresh-cut Christmas tree. This year’s tree came all the way from a timber farm in Mount Shasta, 660 miles away from San Clemente, to be displayed at the mall. The 125-foot-tall tree is selected in June every year; once it arrives for the holidays, it takes a full two weeks to decorate it. And it also requires a lot of decorations: 18,000 lights and 10,000 ornaments.
Christmas at the Capitol Trees (Pierre, South Dakota)
In South Dakota’s capital city, locals don’t settle for just one tree — instead, they have about 100. They’re all stuffed into the South Dakota Capitol Building annually and lit during a Grand Lighting Ceremony for the Christmas at the Capitol festival. A tradition since 1981, the trees are decorated by groups of local volunteers from various nonprofits, schools, and government offices. The display consists of smaller trees that surround the official South Dakota Christmas Tree, which is adorned with handmade ornaments by local artisans.
National Christmas Tree (Washington, D.C.)
Beginning in 1923 when First Lady Grace Coolidge gave the go-ahead to local public schools, the National Christmas Tree has been a fixture of the White House holiday celebrations. That first year, the President lit the tree himself in front of 3,000 visitors. Up until 2012, the tree had been a cut tree — today, it’s a living Colorado blue spruce that is brought over from Virginia and planted in the same spot as that original tree. More Christmas trees have joined the celebration, too. The Pathway of Peace, composed of more than 50 trees (one for each state, the five territories, and D.C. itself), leads up to the National Christmas Tree.
LEGOLAND Christmas Tree (Carlsbad, California)
It may not be an actual tree, but the Christmas tree at LEGOLAND California is indeed the world’s largest LEGO tree. Built from 245,000 green bricks, the tree stands 30 feet tall, has more than 400 LEGO decorations, and is lit by more than 11,000 LED lights. The theme park recreates the holidays in true LEGO fashion around the tree as well, complete with a LEGO Santa, LEGO reindeer, and singing LEGO elves.