The 'Big Switch On' - see the country's tallest Christmas tree lit up
Press release, November 2009
The lights on the country's tallest Christmas tree will be switched on in a special ceremony at Wakehurst Place, near Haywards Heath on Friday November 27.
A towering 113 foot tall giant redwood tree, festooned with 1,800 festive lights, will light up the night sky at Kew 's country estate in the heart of Sussex.
The ‘Big Switch On' marks the start of festivities at Wakehurst and people can enjoy the ceremony free of charge.
As part of the countdown to the tree lighting, a choir of children and adults will be singing around the tree and there will be Christmas craft activities for children in the Wakehurst Mansion. Visitors can also enjoy relaxed Christmas shopping in the gift shop and festive refreshments in the Stables restaurant and Seed Café.
The Big Switch On details as follows:
- Entrance to Wakehurst Place will be free from 4pm
- Christmas craft activities in the Wakehurst Mansion from 5pm to 6.30pm
- Choir singing under the tree from 6pm
- Tree lights will be switched on at approximately 6.25pm
Once lit the tree is so large it is a beacon of light which can be seen for miles around – including from the air by pilots approaching nearby Gatwick. After the switch on ceremony it will be illuminated daily from 4pm until January 5.
Andy Jackson, Head of Wakehurst Place, said: “The Wakehurst tree is a spectacular sight and seeing it lit up marks the start of the build up to Christmas for lots of our visitors and neighbours.
“We hope people will come along and enjoy the festivities and get in the mood for Christmas.”
Expert tree climbers from Wakehurst's Woodland and Conservation team used ropes and specialist climbing gear to put up the energy saving lights earlier this month.
The Christmas Tree will now be the centrepiece of a busy programme of festive events at Wakehurst Place over the coming weeks, with old favourites like the Carols Evening and new attractions including Christmas lunches in the Mansion and a Winter Wonderland Santa's grotto (see dates below).
Wakehurst Christmas Festival events
November 27 onwards
- Christmas trees on sale in the plant centre.
Wakehurst Mansion Christmas displays – December 5 onwards
- Wakehurst's magnificent Elizabethan Mansion will be decorated in traditional style by floristry students at Plumpton College.
- The Mansion Chapel will be transformed into a winter wonderland forest scene.
Family Christmas Sundays - December 6, 13 and 2
- Visit Santa in his grotto in the Mansion Chapel Winter Wonderland from 12 noon to 4pm . Each child will receive a gift and Christmas tree seedling, cost £5.
- Family craft activities in the Mansion from 12 noon to 4pm . Make a wreath or table decoration using natural materials from the Wakehurst Estate. (Separate charge applies, £10 for wreath, £7.50 for table decoration.)
- Take part in a Winter Warmer trail around the gardens
- Enjoy festive food and drink in the Stables Restaurant and Seed Cafe, plus Christmas shopping in the gift shop.
Christmas Lunches in the Mansion - December 6 and 13
- Enjoy Christmas lunch in style in the Mansion dining room. Two courses £12.95, three courses £17.95. Call 894040 to make a reservation.
Carols Evening - Friday December 18
- Carols begin at 7pm , with music provided by the Salvation Army Band and singing lead by local choirs.
- Entrance to the gardens will be free from 4.30pm, with a collection made for charity.
- Children's craft activities in the Mansion from 6pm to 8pm.
Notes to editors
- For more information ring Alistair Burnett or Andy Jackson on 01444 894067, call the Kew press office on 020 8332 5607 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- To download images of the Wakehurst Christmas tree image please visit http://www.kew.org/press/images/wakehurst
Wakehurst Place is home to formal gardens, natural woodlands, nature reserves and a sixteenth century mansion; plus the Millennium Seed Bank, the largest wild seed collection in the world. It is located on the B2028 between Ardingly and Turners Hill (Junction 10 off the M23), West Sussex , RH17 6TN and open every day from 10am , except December 24 and 25. For more information ring 01444 894067 or visit our Wakehurst visitor pages
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