Traditional English pub becomes lavish Christmas spectacle

LONDON, Dec 20 (Reuters) - A traditional English pub has been cloaked in more than 80 bright green Christmas trees while nearly 22,000 dazzling lights attract tourists and locals alike to the festive display in London.

The lavish decorations adorning "The Churchill Arms" pub in the fashionable Notting Hill neighborhood took a week and a half to set up and generate an electricity bill of around 55,000 pounds ($68,000).

"No one passes without stopping, it's unbelievable. There were queues of people here last weekend," said landlord Gerry O'Brien, 66. "It is spellbinding."

%shareLinks-quote="I feel so excited, I'm really lucky to work here." type="quote" author="Namtip Annie" authordesc="Waitress" isquoteoftheday="false"%

The extravagant display is stopping drivers in their tracks as they pull over to take a photo or drawing curious passersby indoors for a pint.

"We saw it on Instagram and it just looked amazing," said Keith Willis, 44, an office designer who brought his wife and daughter to see the festive display. "It's brilliant."

Images of Britain's wartime Prime Minister Winston Churchill are dotted around the pub. A large bust sits on the bar surrounded by dangling model Spitfire planes and other wartime memorabilia.

"I was rather intrigued, so I came in," said Natalia Kulabuchova, a university lecturer from Russia who managed to grab a table by the door at the bustling inn.

"I think it's great, it's traditional. It's what I expected an English pub to be at Christmas, quite peaceful yet jolly. The lights and all of the decor is just spot on. It's a postcard."

A large photo of Queen Elizabeth clad in a yellow dress stands above the street doorway, strategically placed behind a reindeer and sleigh made of twinkling light to give the impression that the monarch has replaced Santa Claus.

The landlord, who closes the pub on Christmas afternoon to cook dinner for his staff, admits that he got carried away with the decorations but that Christmas is a special time.

The attention has also increased traffic through the pub.

"I feel so excited, I'm really lucky to work here," said waitress Namtip Annie, who said the novelty had not warn off and she still can't stop taking photos of the staggering exterior.

The Christmas decorations will be left up until mid-January, after which the trees will be recycled.

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