Belfast Telegraph

90 days before Christmas and first tree lights up by accident in Northern Ireland

By Linda Stewart

Yule be flabbergasted by this - it's more than a month until Halloween darkens our doors but the Christmas displays are already going up.

Motorists travelling along Belfast's Stewartstown Road in the early hours of yesterday morning goggled in disbelief when they glimpsed the shimmering lights of a Christmas tree in a car park at an interface.

One driver said traffic was slow at 2am because motorists were slowing down to look at the glistening fir tree, which had been switched on three months before Christmas.

"The tree, which is normally decorated and lit for Christmas at the interface of the Blacks Road and Lenadoon, stayed illuminated through the night, drawing attention from around the west," he said.

But it turned out the lights had been switched on by accident.

John Hoey, manager of the Stewartstown Road Regeneration Centre, said a group holding a family fun day had inadvertently switched on the tree lights and hadn't noticed because it was daylight.

"It was definitely unintentional," he said. "They were using the power supply during the day time and they might not even have noticed the lights were on.

"It's not an early Christmas display.

"We won't be putting the lights on until late November at the earliest."

However, one reader has spotted a Christmas display in a shop window in Abbey Centre, while Hillside Nursery Centre in Newtownabbey has launched its Christmas section three months ahead of the big day, drawing big crowds to browse the wide selection of festive decorations.

The Christmas tree in Ballymena is often the first in Northern Ireland to go up, but Mid and East Antrim Council said it won't be going up until November 16 this year.

It comes after Selfridges in London raised eyebrows by launching its Christmas shop on July 31.

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