CHURCH COLUMN: Thousands expected for annual Gosport Christmas Tree Festival
The Rev Andrew Norris, the rector of St Mary's Church, Alverstoke, looks ahead to one of the biggest events of the year at Gosport.
One of the best things about Christmas at Gosport is the Alverstoke Christmas Tree Festival.
Coming into a church full of decorated trees, with the smell of pine and the flashes of colourful lights always gets me into a Christmassy mood.
The sound of carols being sung and the taste of mince pies and mulled wine also helps.
This is the ninth year in succession that St Mary’s Church has held a Christmas Tree Festival. We try to get the community to work together to make it a success, with trees sponsored and decorated by more than 80 individuals, local organisations and businesses. Each of those groups feels like they are part of the festival, and so it does really feel like a joint effort across the whole community.
This year, it’s happening from December 7-10, starting off with an opening ceremony and lighting of the trees at 6.15pm on the Thursday (December 7). The church is then open from 3pm-7pm on the Friday, 11am-6pm on the Saturday and 12pm-6pm on the Sunday.
One of the things that also adds to the festive mood are the live performances of Christmas music by children, adults and music groups from across the area.
As last year, the music programme covers all three days of the festival, offering a wide range of music, musicians, instruments and singers, including many young children who will be performing in public for the first time.
The numbers involved speak for themselves. Last year, there were 50 ‘Festival Makers’ – our volunteers who help run the festival – and 150 sponsors and assistants who came to decorate 80 trees.
We welcomed 4,214 visitors, and there were also 772 separate musicians and singers who performed.
This year, we’d love to welcome even more people to share in the joy of Christmas. Why not come along and find out why this time of the year is such a big deal for us? We love to remember the good news that God’s rescue plan for humankind involved a tiny baby being born in squalor. And we hope our festival is a good way for us all to celebrate that fact.
•St Mary’s Church, Green Road, Alverstoke. stmarysalverstoke.org,uk.