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    The Grand Place Christmas tree arrives in Brussels

    Credit: Belga

    At around 6:00 AM on Thursday the Christmas tree bound for Grand Place finished its journey to Brussels, ready to prepare for the launch of the seasonal festival in the city at the end of November.

    Welcomed by Alderman for Culture, Delphine Houba, the tree was erected shortly before 8:00 AM under the eye of Mayor Philippe Close.

    This year, the tree was provided to Brussels by the City of Stavelot in commemoration of the solidarity shown after the Battle of the Bulge in 1945.

    Felled on Wednesday in Francorchamps, in Haute Ardenne, and transported overnight, the 40-year-old Nordmann spruce will remain on the Grand-Place until 5 January.

    Unusually, the four-ton conifer comes from private property, and has stirred up a lot of emotions in the local owner. “We have lived together for many years. He was my friend. He made two young shoots. The succession is assured. After a long reflection, I agreed to let him go,” said Bérangère Delatte.

    It was alderman Raymond Kockelmann, a twenty-time Belgian lumberjack champion, who felled the fir tree. The relatively delicate manoeuvre lasted just under an hour.

    This Sunday, at 9:00 AM eight people will dress the spruce tree in 140 red bubbles, 1.5 km of garlands, 120 balls in the national colours and 50 little wooden men to celebrate the 400th anniversary of Manneken-Pis. This procedure is expected to last 10 hours.

    “It will be lit up with a thousand lights on 29 November in the middle of a magical sound and light show,” explained Houba.

    This symbol of the end-of-year celebrations will be the focus of the sound and light show that visitors will be able to discover from 29 November at 5:45 PM, during the inauguration of Les Plaisirs d’Hiver.

    Jules Johnston
    The Brussels Times