UK's tallest tree decorated with 1,800 lights for festive season

Britain's tallest Christmas tree has been lit ready for the festive season.

The giant redwood, which is the tallest living Christmas tree in England, is now 37 metres tall and was decorated on Tuesday with 1,800 LED lights at Wakehurst, in Ardingly, West Sussex.

Arborists and horticultural staff at the formerly known Wakehurst Place started early in the morning and spent seven hours adorning the tree.

(Gareth Fuller/PA)
(Gareth Fuller/PA)

It was planted in the 1890s and was one of the first exotic trees on the estate, which is run by the Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew. Pilots are said to use the tree as a beacon when landing their planes at nearby Gatwick airport.

Iain Parkinson, head of woodlands and conservation, said: "The giant redwood is one of Wakehurst's best loved storm survivors and it is clearly very happy where it is planted as it has had a good level of growth.

"We lost 20,000 trees in the Great Storm of 1987. This tree has a flexible trunk meaning it swayed in the high wind but wasn't uprooted."

(Gareth Fuller/PA)
(Gareth Fuller/PA)

The tradition of decorating the tree, which has taken place for 25 years, marks the start of preparations of the botanical garden's winter lantern festival, Glow Wild. Some 38,000 tickets have been sold so far.

The event follows on from the burst of Autumn colour across the estate which attracts thousands of visitors every year. The deep reds, bright yellows and oranges are now beginning to fade but this year have remained longer than usual due to the mild weather.

Wakehurst said more than 10,000 people visited in the week beginning October 23 alone with numbers up overall 18% over the year to date.

Glow Wild takes place on Thursday to Sunday from November 30 until December 17.