For a booklet containing pictures from last year's Christmas Tree Festival in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, and a list of opening times for this year's event, click here.
The countdown has begun...
I'm dreaming of a white Christmas, just like the ones I used to know....
Whoa! Hold on a minute. Haven't we just seen one of the hottest summers on record? Some people haven't even been on their holidays yet. Isn't it a bit too early to be thinking of Christmas?
And to that I say simply: Bah humbug! There are now only 21 weeks before Santa makes his annual visit so our thoughts should be turning to all things festive, including this year's Christmas Tree Festival in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, which takes place from Friday, 30th November to Tuesday, 4th December.
Well that's my excuse and I'm sticking to it!
Yes, that's right. 21 weeks. And, although that sounds like a long time, it will soon be upon us.
It's time to get in your loft or garage and rummage round to find your tree and all the trimmings and, more importantly, to decide on a theme for this year's event.
Last year visitors came from all over the country, and some from other countries, to see the fantastic range of ideas on how to dress a Christmas Tree.
Exhibits ranged from the traditionally decorated to those with striking innovative themes and even included a figure of former tennis player John McEnroe dressed in fairy lights. One tree which visitors came to see was that of Martin Copson, who had collected 120 baubles and ornaments from around the world for his entry.
Above and below: Pictures from last year's Christmas Tree Festival.
Among the other trees was one from Melton Breast Cancer Support Group, which was decorated with pink ribbons and the names of fondly remembered relatives. Melton Mowbray Photographic Society bedecked their tree with photos from the 70 years the group has been running and Leicestershire Police hung knitted policemen and women from the branches of theirs.
The Royal Air Force Association exhibited a wooden spitfire with a Christmas tree forming the body of the plane and Melton Lions displayed images of the various charitable activies it organises. People of all ages took part including two-year-olds from the Oasis Family Centre with their ‘Twinkle Winkle Little Star’ tree.
Visitors to the festival couldn’t help but be charmed as they entered to see around 1,300 trees twinkling throughout the church. The whole community takes part in this popular tradition now, with trees provided by large and small businesses, charities and youth organisations.
It genuinely only feels like five minutes ago that we were packing up at the end of last year's event. Last year was memorable for many reasons. We had only just got back into the church after having all the refurbishment work carried out and there was a race against time to ensure that the Christmas Tree Festival took place in our beautiful building.
Last year's trees were very impressive but one stuck in my mind for a different reason. One of the stonemasons working for Midland Conservation in the church just before the event was a bit of a joker. A lovely man named Phill Lefty Wright who liked a laugh.
I remember walking into the church when the trees had been put up to be called to one corner by one of the few workmen still in the building. He took me to one of the trees and there sitting on the top of the tree was an angel with a familiar face. His colleagues had the last laugh on joker Mr Wright by pasting his face on the angel.
Above: Joker in the pack... Phill Lefty Wright in serious pose in St Mary's Church during the refurbishment work and below his picture on the angel on one of the entries in last year's Christmas Tree Festival.
This, of course, caused much hilarity amongst the many workmen who came along to visit the Christmas Tree Festival with their families last year, and to one Mr Wright when he came round with his wife and grandchildren. As for the person whose tree had been hijacked to accommodate the picture? She hadn't even noticed, until it was pointed out to her, and she saw the funny side of it too.
And, of course, who could forget the "Christmas suit" worn by Melton Mowbray Team Rector, the Revd Kevin Ashby last year? Can he better it this year? I suspect he will certainly try!!
Last year Queen Victoria, alias Rita Clews from Ilfracombe, Devon, paid her usual visit to the Christmas Tree Festival. Members of "The Leicester Barbershop Harmony Chorus" also popped in to give us a tune or two and members of the New St George Morris put on an amazing dance display.
We are hoping that all of the above will be able to visit us again this year, so keep an eye out for them.
Another treat in store is when the popular Hathern Brass Band play music for the Carols of Praise amongst the Christmas Trees, this year on Sunday, 2nd December.
The Christmas Tree Festival is five days of festive fun for all the family. I've found the tree, and there's the baubles and tinsel. Now, what clever pun can I find with tree in it that hasn't been used before for this year's theme??? Mmmmm... struggling a bit with that one. I might come back to that later...
Phil Balding, 29/07/2018
|Fantastic festive fun!|
|O Christmas tree, o Christmas tree, how lovely are thy branches... and thy baubles, lights, decorations and wonderful themes which were on display at this year's Christmas Tree Festival in St Mary's Church, Melton.