THERE’S nothing quite like the feeling you get from walking into a beautiful church that is decorated with twinkling Christmas trees.
The aroma of pine, the sight of the Christmas lights and the gentle sound of Christmas carols all combine to make you feel incredibly Christmassy.
So I’m really looking forward to this year’s Alverstoke Christmas Tree Festival, which will see around 80 individually decorated trees inside St Mary’s Church from December 9-12.
Each of the trees has been sponsored by a local group, charity, business or person, and so no two trees will be decorated alike.
The event started a few years ago with about 50 trees, and has become an annual treat. It really brings the community together.
While everyone is decorating their trees, the church is full of chatter, hustle and bustle, with everyone helping each other. Friendships build up between people who didn’t know each other before.
Then over the weekend, more than 3,000 visitors pass through the church. The trees give the place a real ‘wow’ factor. And there is continuous live music of all kinds. More than 600 musicians, including school and adult choirs, soloists, hand bell ringers, pianists and instrumentalists perform. They all give their time for free, and they really enhance the atmosphere.
It all starts with a carol service at 6.15pm on the Thursday night, led by the Lowry Girls Choir. The Mayor of Gosport will press the button to switch on the lights, after which we’ll enjoy mulled wine and mince pies.
Then the church is open during the day on Friday, Saturday and Sunday. The whole family can come for a day out, and enjoy some lunch over in the parish centre.
We hope it reminds you of the reason that we celebrate at Christmas each year. The fact that God decided that the best way to save our world was to become one of us is something worth marvelling at.
We’d love to see you there, so that we can all enjoy the start of the Christmas season together. We’re sure you’ll leave with a smile on your face and a Christmas song in your heart.
n Alverstoke Christmas Tree Festival, St Mary’s Church, Green Road, Alverstoke, begins Thursday, December 8, from 6.15pm. It will be on December 9 and 10 from 11am-6pm and December 11, from midday-6pm
Entry is £3 for adults and £2 for children and seniors.
For more information please visit our website at: stmarysalverstoke.org.uk.
Rev Andy Norris is the rector of St Mary’s Church, Alverstoke