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12 of the world's most spectacular Christmas trees

By Tamara Hinson, for CNN
December 21, 2013 -- Updated 0910 GMT (1710 HKT)
It's big, it's bright -- and it's not actually a tree but a 25-meter metal frame covered in fir tree branches. At least they're not plastic. But they probably are flammable. It's big, it's bright -- and it's not actually a tree but a 25-meter metal frame covered in fir tree branches. At least they're not plastic. But they probably are flammable.
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Vilnius Christmas tree (Lithuania)
Lego Christmas tree (Malaysia)
Rockefeller Center tree (NYC)
Galeries Lafayette tree (France)
Floating Christmas tree (Brazil)
National Christmas tree (Wash., D.C.)
Brandenburg Gate tree (Berlin)
Macaroon Christmas tree (United States)
Umbrella tree (London)
Opera Christmas tree (France)
Fendi Christmas tree (Rome)
Recycled bottle Christmas tree (London)
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STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Never mind the baubles -- one of these Christmas trees is made of macaroons
  • Another, in Rome, is festooned with luxury handbags
  • Some go for glitz -- like the crystal-star-topped Rockefeller Center tree in NYC
  • Brazil's gaudiest floats on water

(CNN) -- Twinkly lights and tinsel?

That's so last Christmas.

Christmas trees don't have to be traditional to look spectacular.

In fact, some of the most memorable ones this year are anything but.

How about a Christmas tree made from Lego?

Or macaroons?

Even the odder entrants in this selection of the world's most amazing Christmas trees on public display tend to be big and bright.

And there are still plenty of sparkly stars to be found and photographed.

They're just much bigger and much brighter than the ones on the tree in your living room.

1. Vilnius Christmas tree (Lithuania)

The well-preserved old town in the Lithuanian capital looks like just the sort of place that needs a Christmas tree.

Now it's got one -- and it's 25 meters tall.

It's not so much a tree as a metal skeleton covered with fir tree branches.

Lithuanian fir tree branches, though -- they're not made in China.

Vilnius Christmas Tree, Cathedral Square, Vilnius, Lithuania

MORE: Are there too many 'German' Christmas markets?

Probably not made by kids.
Probably not made by kids.

2. Lego Christmas tree (Legoland Malaysia)

Asia's tallest Christmas tree is in Malaysia, but even more striking than its height is that it's made from Lego.

The nine-meter tree at Legoland Malaysia is made from 400,000 blocks of the child's toy.

More than 300 Lego baubles, including candles and slightly kinky multicolored chains, have been snapped on.

It's not a tree, either?

C'mon -- where's your Christmas spirit?

Legoland Malaysia, Bandar Medini Iskandar Malaysia, Nusajaya, Johor, Malaysia; +607 597 8888

3. Rockefeller Center Christmas tree (New York)

The unveiling of this 23-meter Norwegian spruce was a star-studded affair -- Mariah Carey, Leona Lewis and the Goo Goo Dolls performed.

Weighing 12 tons, the tree is decorated with 45,000 LEDS and topped with a 3-meter-wide Swarovski crystal star.

The tree was donated to the Rockefeller Center by the Vargoshe family, who planted it in the gardens of their Connecticut home 20 years ago.

And eventually wanted to get rid of it.

Rockefeller Center Christmas tree, 30 Rockefeller Plaza, New York; +1 212 588 8601

4. Galeries Lafayette Christmas tree (Paris)

At 20-meters tall, the world's highest in-store Christmas tree is an intricate, horology-themed affair standing in France's chicest department store, Galeries Lafayette.

Celebrating its 30th birthday this year, Swiss watchmaker Swatch helped design the tree, including the toy village at its base that springs to life on the hour.

Batteries not included.

And try getting the thing home.

Galeries Lafayette (French site only), 40 boulevard Haussmann, Paris; +33 09 69 39 75 75

MORE: World' s best Christmas store windows

World\'s largest -- or perhaps \
World's largest -- or perhaps "only" -- floating Christmas tree.

5. Floating Christmas tree (Rio de Janeiro)

Rio advertizes its superlative seasonal contribution as "the world's largest floating Christmas tree."

Turns out it may be the world's only notable floating Christmas tree, save those dumped in various water supplies when the celebrations are over.

Nonetheless, its stats are pretty impressive.

More than 100,000 people turned out to see the 85-meter, 540-ton behemoth lit up for the first time in the waters off Rio.

Bradesco Seguros Christmas Tree, Rodrigo de Freitas lagoon, Rio de Janeiro

6. National Christmas tree (Washington, D.C.)

Last year, the Obamas were criticized for decorating their home with an apparently excessive 54 Christmas trees.

This year, they have only 24.

Modest.

Barack Obama was tasked with switching on the 10-meter Colorado blue spruce known as the National Christmas Tree, which stands outside the White House gates in President's Park South.

The tree is a permanent fixture, looked after by the National Park Service -- which keeps that itchy foliage from getting everywhere when it comes time to trash most trees, post-Christmas.

National Christmas Tree, 17th and D Streets NW, Washington, D.C.; +1 202 354 6460

READ: 10 best places to send Christmas in 2013

7. Brandenburg Gate Christmas tree (Berlin)

Since the fall of the Berlin Wall, Norway has given the German capital a Christmas tree every year as a sign of peace and solidarity with the reunified country.

The decorations on this year's tree, located as always beneath the Brandenburg Gate, are a bit of a contrast.

They're a freebie from Wintershall, Germany's largest crude oil and natural gas producer.

Nothing ironic there.

Brandenburg Gate Christmas tree, Pariser Platz, Berlin

Hopefully, the staff have been fed well.
Hopefully, the staff have been fed well.

8. Macaroon Christmas tree, Ritz-Carlton (Charlotte, North Carolina)

The Christmas tree at the Ritz-Carlton hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina, is edible: it's made from 8,000 colorful macaroons.

Using 10,008 egg whites, 110 cups of sugar and 57 cups of almonds, the hotel's pastry team took 58 hours to create -- or should that be bake -- the tree.

Ritz-Carlton Charlotte, 201 East Trade Street, Charlotte, North Carolina; +1 704 547 2244

9. Umbrella tree, Goring hotel (London)

Luxury umbrella brand Fulton made the tree outside London's Goring hotel, so it's not hard to guess which popular winter accessory features heavily.

Mirrored baubles designed to represent raindrops are interspersed with miniature umbrellas set with sequined crystals.

One of the brand's trademark birdcage-style umbrellas -- supposedly a favorite of the British royal family -- replaces the traditional star at the top of the tree.

Good thing Trojan doesn't make a Chrismas tree -- they don't right?

The Goring, Beeston Place, London; +44 7396 9000

10. Opera Christmas tree, Grand Hotel de Bordeaux & Spa (Bordeaux, France)

Decorated with elaborate opera costumes, yards of lace and hundreds of crystals, the Christmas tree at the Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux & Spa is the fruit of a collaboration with L'Opera National de Bordeaux.

The hotel and the opera house share a baroque style, as does the tree -- which sings in a nice soprano.

Not really.

Grand Hôtel de Bordeaux & Spa, 2-5 Place de la Comédie, Bordeaux, France; +33 5 57 30 44 44

READ: 7 ways to escape Christmas

One highly fashionable tree.
One highly fashionable tree.

11. Fendi Christmas tree, Hotel de Russie (Rome)

A creation of the Italian fashion house Fendi, the Christmas tree at Rome's Hotel de Russie is unsurprisingly hung all over with the brand's plexiglass "bag bug" handbags.

The tree at nearby Palazzo Fendi (the fashion house's headquarters) has a similar theme, but with miniature Fendi baguette bags being used instead.

Can't help imagining that's one itchy tree.

Hotel de Russie in Rome, Via del Babuino 9, Rome; +39 06 328881

12. Recycled bottle Christmas tree (London)

Humble in origin but still impressive, the Christmas tree outside Ealing Town Hall in London was crafted from 900 plastic bottles collected by local school children.

Made by artist Ashley Phillips, the tree has a serious message: that more waste is produced over the festive season than at any other time of year.

Possibly including these bottles when everyone's done with the tree.

Recycled bottle Christmas tree, Ealing Town Hall, London; +44 20 8825 5000

MORE: 11 places to travel to in 2014

Have you seen Christmas trees more spectacular than these? Is your own better in its own special way? Let us know in the comments below.

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