The raising of the Christmas tree in any city or town is one of the biggest moments that makes the people who live there feel that the festive season is really upon us.
But while the festive centrepiece tends to bring some seasonal magic to the winter months, there’s been some occasions where people have been left royally underwhelmed.
There is no doubting the preparation that goes in by those who organise the decorations each year within Welsh councils. But sometimes their efforts are not met with, ahem, how shall we say this nicely?….Enthusiasm.
Here’s a look at those times – and we’ll begin with the most the most recent of them.
Cardiff’s ‘plastic fantastic’ Christmas tree
A Christmas tree has put up in Cardiff’s Central Square this year – and people have shown no mercy online when giving their initial opinions on it.
Trade group Bid For Cardiff is behind the towering metal structure adorned with Christmas lights, which was installed in front of Cardiff Central Station on Tuesday.
Executive director Adrian Field confirmed the tree itself was complete and would be lit up, however he was tight-lipped about the exact details of the “activation” of the lights, which will take place on November 12. But not all were impressed with the concept, with many claiming it looked half-finished.
Facebook user Jenny Winter joked: “Looks like they are still building it, like the bus station!”, while Maggie Dick insisted that it was surely “just the frame” – others suggested it looked like a pylon.
Neath Christmas tree labelled ‘absolute joke’
Neath’s festive Christmas tree was labelled an “absolute joke” by critics in 2019.
It was described as “half dead” and took quite a bashing online, with one person writing: “What an absolute joke. They get worse every year.”
Someone did look on the bright side, adding: “At least no-one will steal it.”
Self-improvements in Neath
If you think Neath’s dismal tree in 2019 was just a one-off – think again and rewind three years earlier.
A sparse looking tree erected by Neath Town Council sparked complaints and a campaign to make it look more festive.
However, to make matters even worse, residents’ efforts to brighten up the tree themselves using decorations they had collected were stopped because of health and safety reasons.
And when metal railings were put up around the tree, the baubles and bows ended up going on the fence instead. So in the end you had bare Christmas tree but a shiny fence.
The giant cone of Ferrero Rocher outside Cardiff Castle
Perhaps most famous was the “tree-shaped object” chosen by Cardiff Council, which was placed outside the castle in 2016.
The 40ft artificial cone, covered with giant golden baubles, led to a wave of social media accusations of an almighty Cardiff council mess-up.
Some likened the ‘tree’ to a giant traffic cone.
Cardiff council apologised for the tree, which it admitted had fallen “short of expectations”.
In scene similar to something out of the film Spinal Tap, the council said it had ordered a pre-decorated 40m – or 131ft – tree from China for outside Cardiff Castle. But when it went up it was revealed to be just 12m (40ft).
The controversial tree was scrapped after just one year, and Cardiff Council went back to a more traditional real Christmas tree in 2017, sourced from the UK.
You can now get all of the need-to-know news sent straight to your inbox by signing up for our free WalesOnline newsletter.
It takes just seconds to subscribe – simply click here, enter your email address and follow the instructions.
Swansea’s ‘baubles’ tree
It divided opinion at the time, but everyone in Swansea was probably pretty relieved to see a real tree return the following year.
The tree made entirely out of glowing ‘baubles’ appeared in 2015 and was much maligned.
While some people thought it looked nice and praised Swansea Council for doing something different, others disagreed, with one person comparing it with a Lady Gaga dress.
Tree envy in Llanelli
At 10m (33ft), Llanelli’s tree in 2016 was the biggest it had ever been, but residents were still envious of the bigger trees on display in nearby Carmarthen.
Joanne Yeo, from Llanelli, said in 2016: “The tree is pitiful and the people of Llanelli deserve better, much better.
“For a town of our size, the tree is simply inadequate. Carmarthen has beautiful, full, larger trees.”
Llanelli MS Lee Waters agreed, and said: “There’s already a widely held view that Carmarthen gets a better deal than Llanelli, and it doesn’t help when something as daft as this happens.
“This isn’t the first time that our tree is the poor relation. I don’t understand why they don’t just buy the same tree for every town.”
The year before, the council had to cut off 4ft from its Christmas tree in order to meet its own health and safety rules.
Barry tree is mocked
In 2017, Barry’s Christmas tree was removed after its condition failed to impress.
The 40-foot King Square centrepiece was mocked by passers-by as workers placed it in position. The sparse tree was pictured missing several branches and was condemned for being “sad looking” by Ian Johnson, Plaid Cymru councillor for the centre of Barry.
One onlooker said: “What a waste of space. It’s worse than last year.”
Vale council cabinet member for regeneration and planning, Councillor Jonathan Bird, said: “The Barry town centre Christmas tree arrived on and once put on display was clearly not of sufficient standard. The council took the immediate step to remove the tree and the suppliers are sending a replacement.”
Get stories like this straight to your inbox with our newsletters.