Press Report – The 2016 edition of Brightlingsea Christmas Tree Festival, which took place over the weekend of 10th and 11th December, brought record numbers of visitors from as far afield as Australia and Lithuania flocking to the town’s 13th Century All Saints’ church. With some 100 trees on display, of which more than 70 had been entered for the Festival competition by members of the local community, the church offered a sumptuous visual feast for visitors.
Around 2,300 people visited the church during the Festival and a further 560 people attended one of the three associated evening concerts, bringing the total number of visitors to a record breaking 2,860. Alongside the spectacular trees, visitors were able to pick up unusual and often handmade decorations, gifts and goodies in the Gift Shop and Pantry, listen to live music from a host of volunteer performers, enjoy delicious homemade refreshments, mulled wine and roasted chestnuts, and for the children there were special competitions and the chance to meet one of the Nativity shepherds.
The standard of the entries was particularly high this year with some truly innovative designs from entrants of all ages. This year’s official charity tree was presented by Acorn Village, a residential community based in Mistley which provides a secure future for people with learning difficulties, whose residents also provided some of the live musical entertainment during the Festival.
On arrival each visitor is given a competition judging form and asked to vote for their favourite trees. The competition winners this year were:
Isabelle’s Christmas Tree – Isabelle Day
Owl I want for Christmas – Brightlingsea Junior School
Child/Runners-up (Highly Commended)
It all begins with ABC – Childminding Group and
A Fishmas Tree – Brightlingsea Infant School Kids Club & Nursery
Angel Delight – Zoe Aldridge
A Christmas Tree-t – WoolyBuly Craft Group
Adult/Runners-up (Highly Commended)
Notes on a Tree – “Sing Brightlingsea” and
Helping Hands at the Heart of the Community – First Responders
As well as providing a much loved festive community event, Brightlingsea Christmas Tree Festival plays an important part in helping to fund the upkeep of Brightlingsea’s two Anglican churches, All Saints’ where the festival is held and its sister church St James’ in the town centre. Current priorities for fundraising include essential restoration work on All Saints’ church tower, which was built in 1250, and construction of permanent toilet and kitchen facilities to ensure AllSaints’ can be used as widely as possible for appropriate community events as well as formal services. The Festival has raised almost £100,000 since it was launched in 2003 and this year’s event is expected to add around £11,000 to that total.