Landing holiday tree tradition lights up Downtown and beyond

For nearly 30 years every December, the holiday tree rising above The Jacksonville Landing‘s riverfront courtyard has brightened Downtown and the spirits of the community. The tradition continues this weekend when The Landing’s iconic holiday tree is lit for the 27th time. Friday, Nov. 29, thousands of people are expected to attend the live-broadcasted 27th Annual Christmas on the St. Johns Tree Lighting Ceremony, celebrating this seasonal Downtown landmark.

IMG_8012“It’s Jacksonville’s tree – we never look at it as The Landing tree,” said Michael Chambliss, The Landing’s director of marketing. “We’ve always been proud of the tradition. It’s something to get people to come Downtown and enjoy Downtown.”

The first 21 years of this Downtown tradition, The Landing used a real tree from the Carolinas. Since then, in an effort to “go green,” The Landing now hosts an artificial tree that dazzles from the inside out, as DVI discovered through an invitation to climb inside. The interior of the tree cone houses computers and speakers that operate the Synchronized Nightly Tree Light Shows. Here are some impressive facts about “Jacksonville’s tree,” by the numbers:

  • photo 3 (1)50-foot tree with a 6-foot star, topping out the landmark at 56 feet
  • 78,000 LED lights in two sizes
  • 32 rings of branches
  • 4 strands of lights on each branch with 4 colors: red, green, white and multi-colored
  • 4 miles of power cables
  • 7 computers inside the tree that operate the light shows; one computer for every color except multi-colored, which requires three computers
  • 4 speakers inside the tree that play holiday music

This year, the Synchronized Nightly Tree Light Shows feature all new shows and music – three 10-minute performances of varied music and light patterns. After Friday’s lighting ceremony, the shows begin each evening at 6 p.m. and run in a loop through 9 p.m. weekdays and midnight on weekends.

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Interior of “Jacksonville’s tree.”

Light shows and the ceremonial tree lighting just scratch the surface of what The Landing has planned for the holidays. This Saturday, Nov. 30, about 150,000 are expected to pack The Landing and the Northbank and Southbank Riverwalk for the popular Jacksonville Light Boat Parade and Fireworks Spectacular.

“People are so festive,” Chambliss said. “This is what kicks off the holidays for everybody.”

In addition, Landing events such as Chanukah at The Landing, the 19th Annual Tuba Christmas and the Holiday on the River Dance and Concert Series are big hits every December. For a full list of Downtown holiday events across all Downtown venues, visit DVI’s website events calendar.

Happy holidays! Don’t miss the fun Downtown offers all ages this season.