INTREPID staff at Longleat took the art of tree decorating to new heights with the help of a cherry picker ahead of the official launch of Christmas at Longleat on Saturday.

When your Christmas tree is 20 metres tall, covered in more than 88,000 lights and fitted with four snow-making machines it pays to get your festive preparations started early.

It takes a team of 15 people four days to decorate the giant tree, which is covered with tens of thousands of individual lights, all of which have to be fitted in place by hand.

Made from 14 separate sections and incorporating an extraordinary 12 kilometres of lighting cables, the tree was created by a team of British craftsmen and is the only one of its kind in Europe.

Staff use the cherry picker to decorate the highest sections of the tree, which plays a selection of traditional Christmas music and carols and features a series of spectacular animated light shows.

Longleat’s Steve Mytton said: “With so many lights, so much cable and decorations to put up it has been a massive undertaking, but to see the tree in place and working is amazing."

“It manages to combine a host of Christmas traditions into one package; a seasonal tree, twinkling lights as well as carols, festive songs and even snow. There can’t be too many other experiences like it."

Running from November 6 to January 3, ‘Christmas at Longleat’ is a new family event featuring Santa Trains, festive storytelling with flying owls, live Christmas shows, a synchronised light and sound display on the front of Longleat House, an illuminated Love Labyrinth and a host of other Christmas surprises.

During the day, visitors can also enjoy all of Longleat’s animal and adventure attractions, including the Winter Safari Drive-through, Koala Creek, Jungle Kingdom, Jungle Cruise and ever-popular Adventure Castle.