You can view 30 decked-out Christmas trees for free at the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver

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      The Georgia Straight is a proud sponsor of Festival of Trees.

      Community organizations and businesses have descended on locations around BC to bedazzle towering trees, all in a bid to raise money for cancer research at the BC Children’s Hospital Foundation.

      In Vancouver, wander into the festive lobby of the Fairmont Hotel Vancouver to check out the 30 trees that line the corridors. The artificial firs have been lovingly decorated by corporate employees, community groups, and in at least one case, journalists operating on little more than coffee and stubbornness (hello!). 

      Vote for your favourite tree, or make direct donations to the charity by scanning QR codes on-site.

      With a tradition that has more than 30 years of history, the Festival of Trees has also descended upon Victoria, Sooke, Kelowna, and West Kelowna, where similar competitive tree displays are sparkling for your viewing pleasure. 

      Although they’re now synonymous with Christmas, appreciating big evergreens during the winter has a long and not necessarily religious history.

      As the German carol “O Tannenbaum” might clue you in on, the tradition of bringing an evergreen tree into your house and decking it out with candles began in central European countries like Germany and Estonia back in the 16th century. Even then, the original version of “O Tannenbaum” is a 16th century folk song by Melchior Franck; the lyrics pertain specifically to evergreen trees’ steadfastness (which perhaps is why they’re so great for indoor decorating). Further back than that, there are some possible links to different pre-Christian or Pagan traditions, though they’re disputed. 

      Christmas trees largely spread to the UK due to Queen Victoria’s marriage to her German cousin in the 1840s, while German soldiers brought the tradition to North America during the colonial wars. 

      In any case, the trees are on display until January 2, giving you plenty of time to soak in the festivity.

      Festival of Trees 2023

      When: Now until January 2

      Where: Lobby of Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, 900 West Georgia Street, Vancouver