Worldwide icon-chevron-right The 10 most iconic Christmas trees in the world
Washington D.C Christmas tree
Photograph: Shutterstock

The 10 most iconic Christmas trees in the world

From New York’s Rockefeller behemoth to Moscow’s fairytale firs, these are the Christmas trees that get people talking every year

By Huw Oliver
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Sorry to break it to you, but that mega-fir you just splashed out on? Really bad effort. It is, in fact, tiny. At least, it is when you compare it with the many thousands of gargantuan specimens that tend to light up public spaces in major cities across the world at this time of year. 

So which of the world’s Christmas trees are the most iconic of all? Does your home city have a bauble collection of truly epic proportions? We can tell you right now, because a popularity index from community craft website DIYS has just ranked some of the most famous firs according to a mix of factors including Instagram hashtags and global Google searches. And because size is all-important, the DIY website also took into account tree height and the number of baubles needed to decorate them.

The results include some obvious shouts – Rockefeller Center, Trafalgar Square – but also a few surprises. So from Rio’s floating fir to the fairytale scenes in Moscow’s Red Square, here’s the full list of the world’s ten most iconic Christmas trees. Commiserations, and who knows: maybe your wee sapling will make the cut next year.

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The world’s most iconic Christmas trees

Gubbio’s Christmas tree
Gubbio’s Christmas tree
Photograph: Shutterstock

1. Gubbio, Italy

Okay, it’s not strictly a tree. It’s a load of lighting installed on the slopes of Mount Ingino outside the city of Gubbio, in Umbria, every year. But it certainly looks like a Christmas tree, and is hands down the tallest on this list. That makes it incredibly iconic. First place!

Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree
Rockefeller Center’s Christmas tree
Photograph: Pe Dra / Shutterstock.com

2. Rockefeller Center, New York

This tree shoots up amid the sprawling Rockefeller complex every year. There are some 54,000 ‘Rockefellerchristmastree’ hashtags currently on Instagram. Very iconic.

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Vilnius Christmas tree in 2020
Vilnius Christmas tree in 2020
Photograph: Saulius Ziura

3. Vilnius, Lithuania

A lesser-known choice that, for a brief period each year, becomes one of Lithuania’s major tourist attractions, the Christmas tree in Vilnius’s Cathedral Square oftens wins awards for its dazzling light displays.

Tree in Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon
Tree in Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon
Photograph: ranimiro / Shutterstock.com

4. Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, Rio de Janeiro

The world’s largest floating Christmas tree, in Rio de Janeiro’s Rodrigo de Freitas Lagoon, usually soars 70 metres in the air and is lit up with nearly a million LED lights.

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Washington D.C Christmas tree
Washington D.C Christmas tree
Photograph: Shutterstock

5. Capitol Hill, Washington D.C.

Every year since the mid-’60s, a big tree-lighting ceremony has taken place on Capitol Hill. The trees usually flash in every hue imaginable, and are always suitably OTT.

Zocalò Christmas tree
Zocalò Christmas tree
Photograph: Belikova Oksana / Shutterstock.com

6. Zócalo, Mexico City

Mexico City’s major square is adorned in all manner of extravagant lighting and tinsel around Christmastime. At its centre, a 40-metre-high tree towers high above pretty much everything else.

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Puerta del Sol Christmas tree
Puerta del Sol Christmas tree
Photograph: Shutterstock

7. Puerta del Sol, Madrid

Visitors and locals alike flock to this regal square in the Spanish capital to check out its annual festive light display, which is always centred around a huge, resplendent tree.

Strasbourg Christmas tree
Strasbourg Christmas tree
Photograph: HUANG Zheng / Shutterstock.com

8. Strasbourg, France

The Christmas market of Strasbourg’s Place Kléber is a mammoth attaction in itself, and then there’s the nine-tonne, 30-metre-high tree that looms over it all. Howsabout a winter getaway here in 2021?

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Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, London
Christmas tree in Trafalgar Square, London
Photograph: Shutterstock

9. Trafalgar Square, London

Some 8,000 people Google ‘Trafalgar Square Christmas tree’ every month throughout the festive period – and for good reason: it’s always friggin’ beautiful.

Christmas tree in Red Square, Moscow
Christmas tree in Red Square, Moscow
Photograph: Shutterstock

10. Red Square, Moscow

Red Square is undoubtedly the most Christmassy place to be in Moscow during winter: there’s a massive ice skating rink, there’s a festive market, and there’s a big ol’ tree too. It’s almost like something from a fairy tale.

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