Christmas has started arriving at Cheshire Oaks .
On Sunday (November 8) engineers braved high winds and torrential rain to put the finishing touches to Britain's largest walk-in Christmas tree.
John Vasey and his team of 12 have spent six days putting up the tree at McArthurGlen's Cheshire Oaks designer outlet.
The festive structure stands at nearly100 ft high, weighs a staggering 18 tons and is held together with 2000 nuts and bolts. It has 10 km of electrical cables, 20,000 baubles, and 100,000 light bulbs and is designed to withstand winds of more than 150 mph.
Shoppers had a tantalising glimpse of what is to come with the official opening on Thursday, November 12 at 7.30pm at its new location between Nike and Cafe Rouge on car park A.
The sparkling behemoth, close to the M53, is a familiar Christmas feature at the centre, still the UK’s first and largest designer outlet.
The 18 ton, £100,000 tree, which is 90ft high, became the only walk through tree in Europe with visitors able to enjoy the enchanting lights in its interior for a donation to charity after entering through a decorated archway.
Centre manager Kenny Murray is unmoved by opposition from further down the Mersey as Liverpool ONE plans a new kid on the block which it insists is now Britain’s tallest artificial tree at just over 98ft tall.
This will be unveiled on Paradise Street near to John Lewis on Friday, November 13 a day after the Cheshire Oaks launch.
Mr Murray points out he has ‘over a quarter-million square foot of retail space offering fantastic discounts of up to 60% off from leading international brands and high-street favourites’.
Cheshire Oaks, he insists, is ‘the region’s leading destination for shopping this Christmas’.
And as for its tree: “Our traditional and now iconic Christmas tree is always a real draw for festive shoppers last year raising over £20,000 for regional charity The Christie, a target we hope to exceed this year as we proudly team up with the British Red Cross for another season of fundraising.”
In a break from tradition the tree has moved to make way for the new flagship Polo Ralph Lauren store at the gateway to The Quarter of upmarket stores.