A Christmas Tree festival is helping a Shinfield church get the festive party started as it welcomes visitors keen to see the decorations.
St Mary’s in Church Lane, Shinfield is the venue for an impressive collection of Christmas trees, both real and artificial and indoors and out. The displays are free to visit, and there are refreshments available.
Each tree has been decorated by a community group or village business and includes the Shinfield Players Theatre, the Women’s Institute and the church choir.
Children from the village primary school and toddler groups have made their own decorations including snowmen from lolly sticks and plenty of angels.
The church sees the weekend festival, held over Saturday, December 20 and Sunday, December 21, as the start of 10 days of Christmas celebrations.
The Revd Chris Leslie, assistant priest for the Loddon Reach benefice (of which St Mary’s is part), is delighted with the displays and the work that has gone into it.
“It’s kick starting our celebrations,” he explained. “Children love it – we get a lot of children here with their Mums and Dads.”
Chris explained that the groups taking part have spent a lot of time preparing for the festival, and it took a week to get the church ready. The weekend’s events also includes a hugely popular carols by candlelight service, which takes place from 6pm on Sunday.
On Christmas Eve the church invites people to a family carol service at 4pm and, at 11.30pm, a Midnight Eucharist.
“We’re very, very happy to welcome visitors, just turn up,” Chris said.
And there’s more to the festival than just the festive firs.
Chris said: “It’s bringing the community together and gives [the church] the chance to share the real message of Christmas. It attracts people in; the Church needs to be reaching out and this is a way of doing that.”
The festival is open from 11am to 6pm on Sunday, December 21. For more details, log on to the Loddon Reach Benefice website.