The Westfield San Francisco Centre in California, right on Union Square, has zhushed up its breathtaking central atrium with a chandelier-like upside down Christmas tree. It is truly a stunning sight, and has sparked a great deal interest, with many people heading into the Mall to see this strange but beautiful ‘tree’. Some are seeing this as a sign of an imminent apocalypse, but we are certain one look of this three-story tree jutting down into the atrium like a sparkly spear and they will be whistling White Christmas!
Although Westfield San Francisco looks as ancient and noble as the Pantheon, it is in fact a Mall which was built towards the end of the eighties. It is an upmarket Centre, anchored by a massive Bloomingdales department store. It doesn’t seem it from the outside, but the Mall is huge. It has nine levels and almost 200 stores. It not only has a modern cinema and supermarket, but also contains a branch of San Francisco State University. The Mall even has America’s first ever spiral escalators to match the domed central rotunda, where we find the Christmas tree.
The Mall debuted its centrepiece last year and it was such a success they decided to bring it back this holiday season. The 15-metre tree is suspended from the dome and is surrounded by a mist of fairy-lights. The tree itself is made up of thousands of crystals and lights - it is absolutely worth hanging around at the Mall until the evening to see it truly come to life as the natural light streaming in from the atrium’s glass dome fades. The tree has been such a great success there are now even stores selling Christmas trees you can invert, but the thought of trying to decorate an upside-down tree without it toppling over gives me a headache.
However, not everyone is so impressed, to put it mildly. Some are seeing this as some kind of slight to the Christmas celebration, calling it a ‘bizarro-world Christmas tree’ and a way of subverting the idea of Christmas. The fact is that this could not be further from the truth. If it has upset someone close to you, I suggest you tell them to think of it as a Christmas chandelier rather than a tree in that case. All that said, I can understand some misgivings - Christmas is a special time for many people, and the thing about traditions is that they are by their definition unchanging. Some things you want to mess with as little as possible! However, as previously said, just have a look for yourself before deciding it’s not your cup of tea. The Mall just wonderfully screams Christmas as you enter the atrium.
This year, the Mall has decided on a ‘winter of whimsy’ theme. Apart from the centrepiece, Westfield San Francisco has filled itself with bright white lights and crystal decorations. When this is paired with the light decor already in the Mall, a calm, luxurious and wintery mood is created which gives the Centre an ethereal feel. It’s easy to overdo Christmas decorations - once you have crossed the point of no return, it can look as if a green and red Splatoon match has just finished in the Mall. Westfield San Fransisco has done just enough to remain classy while still giving that happy Christmas buzz.
Other Centres, stores and even hotels have subsequently installed upside-down trees, it has become something of a trend - but not many Malls out there have such a magnificent domed atrium with which to work; it looks almost unreal in this setting. California doesn’t exactly scream ‘chestnuts roasting on an open fire’ or ‘white Christmas’, but enter this Mall and you are instantly transported to a truly whimsical winter wonderland. It Heaven has a Mall, I’m certain it would look something like this around the holiday time!
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