Commercial PhotographyThe countdown to Christmas in Stockton has begun.

A spectacular 50ft tall traditional Christmas tree has arrived in the Town Centre ahead of the start of Stockton Council’s winter festival, Stockton Sparkles.

Yesterday morning (16 November) the natural Sitka Spruce, which was sourced from Kielder Forest in Northumberland, was lowered into place by a crane into its new home outside the Rediscover Stockton shop on the High Street. Over the coming days a supersize version of a traditional barrel will be placed around it and it will be dressed with festive lights ready for the Christmas lights switch on and launch of Stockton Sparkles on Thursday 27 November.

The tree is joined by a giant illuminated reindeer which sits majestically on the top of the Shambles Market Hall and a huge ‘Stockton Sparkles’ bauble.

A giant Christmas present is also set to appear in the next week helping transform Stockton High Street into a winter wonderland.

Councillor Ken Dixon, Stockton Council’s Cabinet Member for Arts, Leisure and Culture, said: “It’s wonderful to see the return of a tradition tree to the High Street and at 50ft tall it is the largest one to ever grace the town centre and will certainly make a dramatic impact.

“The tree’s presence not only signifies that the physical works are almost complete but also marks the beginning of the exciting festive period. This year there’s going to be even more to see and do to get you in the mood for Christmas.

“Stockton Sparkles launch night will see the wondrous decorations and new Christmas lights switched on for the first time illuminating the High Street and setting the scene for a magical evening and a packed programme of festive events.”

This year’s Stockton Sparkles programme of events is bigger and better and includes the UK’s first singing Christmas tree, Christmas market, Christmas maze and the annual reindeer parade.  For more information about Stockton Sparkles’ exciting programme visitwww.stockton.gov.uk/stocktonsparkles