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Church announces return of tree festival

By Connor Steel

ST MARY’S CHURCH have invited residents to gather together in Alverstoke for their annual Christmas Tree Festival to be held over four days in December; which will showcase seventy-five festive decorations created by individuals, youth groups, schools, clubs, charities, local organisations, and businesses across the Parish.

Fresh from cancellations due to the Covid-19 pandemic, this festival will be held for its fourteen edition and has been organised by a committee whom have been tirelessly working between the scenes. This features advertising, finance, sponsorships, stewarding, church decorations, tree purchasing and finally installations.

They have secured sponsorship for 75 trees at the time of writing which will line the indoor perimeters of the church; all featuring different styles and themes depending on the decorators. Previous examples have seen Hampshire Police decorate their tree in crime tape, whilst Huhtamaki have used cups lids instead of baubles.

There will also be an opportunity for visitors to pay tributes and prayers to loved ones, with blank paper tags available to write upon before adding to a designated tree. This has become a popular feature of the festival and people are asked to be respectful of those paying remembrance; the tree often positioned near the altar.

Since its inception the festival has been enriched by live performances of Christmas music and this edition is no difference; six choirs and young soloists already booked to attend so far. A full music programme is due to feature across the whole four days including local schools and groups, many performing live for the first time.

One Globe reader stated their excitement at the festival’s return to normality, saying: “I cannot wait to attend the festival in two weeks time as it has become a personal family highlight – I have been lucky to attend this festival with grandparents, siblings and even my cousins; it really does begin the festive season for all of us.”

A short opening ceremony will be held on December 8 (Thursday) between 6:15pm and 7:30pm, whilst trees can also be seen from 3pm to 7pm the following day (Friday). It will further be open on Saturday (11am-6pm) and Sunday (12pm-6pm), allowing all scheduled church services to go ahead as normal through this period.

Entry to this festival will cost £3 per individual adult, whilst children aged under 16 years old will cost nothing if they are accompanied by an adult. Stewards will be available both inside and outside the church to protect against overcrowding, with visitors asked to remain patient at particular busy periods and to expect queuing.

With crowds expected to attend visitors are further encouraged to be mindful of parking in the surrounding streets and to avoid blocking access to Alverstoke residents. According to Google maps the nearest public car park can be found at Gilkicker, which is 0.6 miles from the church and takes ten minutes when walking.

All money raised will help support St Mary’s Church projects and readers can find out further information via this poster design. Questions can also be asked by contacting the Parish Centre through the details on this link or by visiting the Alverstoke Parish Church social media page on Facebook (available by clicking here),

PICTURED BY AISLING STEEL: The festival shows many branches, lights and greenery in 2019 edition at St Mary’s Church, Alverstoke; which saw thousands attend over four days of music, atmosphere and trees.