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Not just fir show: London’s best interactive Christmas trees

Written by
Liz Darke

It’s not that we don’t love a simple pine decked in lights and dotted with baubles – we do, we think it’s a thing of beauty – but you’ve got to admit that a Christmas tree built from London’s favourite festive words (that also sings carols, btw) or one with a 20-metre-long adult slide does sound a tad more exciting.

Good for more than just a quick Insta snap, the capital’s interactive and immersive Christmas trees let you get hands-on. Here are four of our favourites. 

The Singing Tree 
This year’s Christmas tree at the V&A, which stands proudly in the museum’s grand entrance hall, is the brainchild of Es Devlin who has designed lighting sets for the likes of Kanye, Beyoncé, the Royal Opera House and the National Theatre. With not a needle in sight, The Singing Tree is an audio-light sculpture constructed from festive words, many submitted by V&A visitors online and at the museum. From now until January, the words will be projected into a glowing tree formation and amalgamated into a bespoke Christmas carol. The carol will be sung by a choir of both human and machine-generated voices for visitors to enjoy as they wander past. The tree is still taking submissions, so you can contribute your favourite festive word here
V&A. Until Jan 6. Free.

Ace Hotel’s lobby tree 
Okay, so this is less of an actual tree and more of a film about a tree, but it’s pretty cool all the same. Gracing the lobby of Shoreditch’s Ace Hotel is a huge video projection of a snowy spruce (‘Evergreen’) by Iceland-based filmmaker and photographer Sebastian Ziegler. This isn’t just a visual installation, though. Scents of pine, crab apple and fern supplied by natural fragrance company Haeckels will be wafting through the lobby, while tree-themed treats will be on offer in the bar, including pine-scented smoked salmon blinis, mince pies topped with pine-scented meringue and Ace’s Christmas Tree Fizz made with Martini Riserva Ambrato, Bombay Sapphire, pine needle cordial, aromatised pine and soda. Cheers to that.
Ace Hotel, E1 6JQ. Until Dec 31. Free. 

Erected just outside the London Outlet Centre in Wembley Park, Slideatron is north London’s answer to the ArcelorMittal Orbit. Sure, it might not have been designed by a Turner Prize-winning artist and yes, it is just for the festive period, but it’s definitely a slightly mad, futuristic-looking structure housing an adult-friendly mega-slide. Touted as a ‘fully immersive Christmas attraction’, said slightly mad, futuristic-looking structure is actually a Christmas tree. Made from boxes of scaffolding brought to life by mesmerising LED lights, Slideatron encases a 20-metre-long slide propelling intrepid visitors downwards, and holds an 18-metre-high viewing platform. On top of that, every hour, on the hour, Slideatron slips into proper party mode and treats the crowds to a dazzling light show set to a soundtrack of remixed Chrimbo classics. LED hula-hoopers and neon stilt walkers can be found at ground level, as can a street food market and festive bar. Beat that, Stratford! See a video of Slideatron in action.
Wembley Park, HA9. Until Jan 2. Free. 

The memory-powered tree
For two weeks in December, charity Marie Curie will be showcasing the world’s first ever memory-driven Christmas tree. Powered purely by the public’s favourite festive memories, the seven-metre-tall fir will shine brighter as more people share their fondest Christmas moments on social media. To help the tree reach optimum twinkliness, simply post about your best festive memory – whether it was spent with friends, family or a seriously adorbs reindeer – on Twitter or Instagram using the hashtag #LightUpXmas. The tree aims to be the sparkliest spruce in town and, more importantly, a reminder of the hard work Marie Curie nurses do at this time of year and all year round. Visitors can make contactless donations to the charity right by the London Eye.
London Eye, SE1 7PB. Until Dec 17. Free.  

Want a regular Christmas tree that won’t read your mind? Here’s where to buy one in London.

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