Don't miss the festive fun!
Lights, camera, action... yes, this year's Christmas Tree Festival in St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, is fast approaching and it's going to be a real cracker!
Months and months of hard work and planning have gone into this year's event to be held in the beautiful Grade 1 Listed building from Friday, November 30th until Tuesday, December 4th.
The popular festival, now in its 16th year, has attracted many new entries this year including Jeld-Wen, Radio Leicester, Le Solidarity, Midshire Trike Tours, the Prostate Cancer Support Group, Advance, Amwell, Melton Caravan and Motorhome servicing, Sandicliffe, Melton Smart Dogs and Rebels Stockcars.
Youngsters have been busy writing their wishes to Santa at the Saturday activities mornings in the church recently and these will be hung on the Saturday AM tree at the festival.
There are seven entries this year dedicated to Remembrance and four marking the 100th anniversary of the end of World War One including that of St Mary's Church Bell Ringers. Some 1,400 bell ringers are known to have died during World War One and the "tree" aims to honour their memory. It is a bell made out of board on a stand and decorated with bells, ropes, poppies and silhouettes of soldiers.
One tree which is sure to be a talking point is that of Masterpane, who have requested an 8ft wide by 8ft high wall space with the theme A step closer to Christmas!
Unusual themes this year include Peace be the Inspiration, chocolate from Weightwatchers, Royal Tea, Between the Crib and The Cross of Christ, Arborists getting Festive, and Recycled Saw Tree.
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.
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 activities 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, as our pictures here show. The whole community takes part in this popular tradition now, with trees provided by large and small businesses, charities and youth organisations.
Last year Queen Victoria, alias Rita Clews from Ilfracombe, Devon, paid her usual visit to the Christmas Tree Festival... so keep an eye out for Her Majesty this year.
Another treat is when the popular Hathern Brass Band play music for the Carols of Praise amongst the Christmas Trees, this year on Sunday, 2nd December.
*There will be chance to see all the trees at a preview evening on Thursday, November 29th, at 7.30pm. The evening will consist of a short opening service and the switching on of the lights by The High Sherriff of Leicestershire, Diana Thompson, followed by a buffet supper with a glass of wine. Tickets for the evening are now on sale in the Samworth Centre and cost £8.50.
*The rotas are now up in the North Transept of St Mary's Church, Melton Mowbray, for signing up to help during this year's Christmas Tree Festival. We need your help to make the weekend run smoothly. Please sign up if you are available to help.
*Please note: The Carols amongst the Trees Service on Saturday, December 1st starts at 5pm and not 5.30pm as stated in some recent publicity.
Christmas Tree Festival 2018 Programme
Tuesday, 27th November from 8am until 8pm. Decoration of Window Sills.
Wednesday, 28th November from 8am until 8pm. Decoration of Trees on the Floor.
Thursday all day. Church closed to prepare for the evening, fixing of individual signs and photographs by official photographer.
Thursday, 29th November - 7.30pm. Wine & Buffet Evening to Launch the Festival including Opening Service and the switching on of the tree lights by Diana Thompson, High Sheriff of Leicestershire. Tickets £8.50 per person available from the Samworth Centre.
Friday, 30th November 9am - Church open to the public until 9pm. Last admission 8pm. Refreshments all day. Mulled wine and mince pies will be available from 5pm.
Saturday, 1st December - Open to the public 9am – 4.30pm. Carols amongst the Trees 5pm. Refreshments all day.
Sunday, 2nd December - 8am Holy Communion Service in St Mary's Church.
St Mary’s Church open to the public 9am – 5pm. Last admission 4pm. Refreshments all day.
6.30pm - Songs of Praise in St Mary’s – singing led by The Hathern Brass Band.
Monday, 3rd December - Open to the public 9am – 9pm. Last admission 8pm. Mulled wine and mince pies will be available from 5pm. Refreshments all day.
Tuesday, 4th December - Open to the public 9am – 4pm. Last admission 3pm. Refreshments all day.
4.00 pm Festival closes with prayers from Revd Kevin Ashby.
4.15 pm Trees removed from Church.