Brightlingsea At Christmas Magazine & Tree Festival Programme Is Back

Back by popular demand! This years Brightlingsea at Christmas magazines have arrived, and will be making their way out to homes across Brightlingsea in the next few days.

As well as a host of information about events and activities in Brightlingsea over the festive season, the magazine also incorporates the Brightlingsea Christmas Tree Festival Programme and copies will be available at All Saints’ during the Festival.

If you live in Brightlingsea and don’t receive a copy through your door you can pick one up free from Little Boat Gifts in New Street.

Alternatively if you are too far away to pick up a hard copy of the magazine you can view it online here or download a PDF version by clicking the link below.

Brightlingsea Christmas Tree Festival Is Back For 2021!

It seems a long time ago since our last Festival in 2019, but WE ARE BACK !!!!!

It is planned to hold the Festival over the weekend of 10, 11 and 12 December 2021, if there are no further restrictions or lockdowns.  The Festival will be a little different this year to ensure we act as Covid safely as possible. Face masks are optional, but recommended in closed areas and sanitiser will be readily available. 

There will be no refreshments served in the church and the Christmas Shop will not be open, but there will be refreshment stalls in the church yard serving hot drinks and snacks, and the pantry will be open in the church selling delicious festive treats.

The extra space this provides means that the trees can be more spread out and as far as possible a one-way system will be in operation.

There will be no voting this year, just the opportunity to look at all the wonderful decorated trees. In addition, the Holy Mowers, who look after the churchyard and keep it looking so good throughout the year will be decorating the churchyard with lights and other displays.

There will be a concert on Saturday night and the Festival will close with Carols with Chris on Sunday evening. Both events will be for limited numbers and further details on how to book tickets will be published here soon.

The entry price remains at £3.50 for adults and no charge for children under 16. To give extra time for visitors the Festival will open on Friday from 4.00 until 8.00 p.m. and then the usual times of 10.00 til 6.00 on Saturday and Sunday.

For those entering trees you will be asked to indicate at what time you will be bringing your tree into church so that there will not be too many people decorating their trees at the same time.

And The 2020 Brightlingsea Virtual Christmas Tree Festival Winners Are…

The votes have been counted and the winners of our special 2020 Brightlingsea Virtual Christmas Tree Festival are:

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Adult Individual – Andy Conroy (aka Mr Windows) “haP.P.E Christmas”
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Adult Group – Brightlingsea Food Bank “Elves on the Shelves”
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Adult Group – Runner Up – Special Commendation – Brightlingsea Museum “Shipwrights Tree”
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Individual Young Person – Florence Andrews – Elves of Advent Tree
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Youth Group – 4 YOUth “4YOUth Christmas Treats

Congratulations and thank you to everyone who took part in the competition and to everyone who voted. You can still view the virtual trees at although voting is now closed.

All Saints’ Festive Lights Go Live 12/13 And 19/20 December

Brightlingsea’s festive lights trail from All Saints’ to the Hard will be complete this weekend as the special festive lights display and attractions are lit at All Saints’ Church.

From 4pm to 7pm on Saturday 12, Sunday 13 and Saturday 19 and from 4pm to 5.30pm on Sunday 20 December walk through the beautiful All Saint’s historic churchyard and enjoy the festive lights.

Alongside our traditional Christmas lights will be additional special displays created especially for this year’s Lights Trail.

Father Christmas will be located in the porch to wave to the children and there will be Christmas music playing too.

We will also have a special Christmas Wishes Tree where your messages can be hung. Unfortunately Covid-19 cross infection control means that you cannot add your messages directly. Instead please email your messages to either Angela Herbert on or Sheila Crow on who will personally place them onto the tree for you.

So do please come and visit and enjoy our wonderful All Saints’ Church in a Covid-19 safe way at this very special time of year.

Please observe social distancing at all times and please ensure you carry masks with you to wear when distancing cannot be maintained.

Festive Thrills Christmas Shop Supports Brightlingsea Christmas Tree Festival

The Festive Thrills Pop-Up Shop will be located at 33 Hurst Green from 11am to 3pm on Saturday 12 and Sunday 13 December 2020 selling wonderful festive goodies including:

Decorative goodies for the home and tree

Amazing Bargain Bags

Tempting Tasty Food for your Christmas Larder

Gifts for all the family

Something for everyone

Help us raise funds for the All Saints’ Church restoration fund

Please wear a mask and observe social distancing

For further information please contact Sally Owen on

Donate Online To Support The Festival

Brightlingsea Christmas Tree Festival is not only a festive celebration to mark the coming of Christmas, but it is also a vital fundraising event in support of Brightlingsea’s historic churches – St James’ Church in the High Street which was consecrated in 1836, and the 12th century All Saints’ Church on the outskirts of the town which has the honour of being listed in Simon Jenkins’ “England’s Thousand Best Churches” and which holds a very special place in the heart of Brightlingsea’s residents.

Covid-19 means that of course we cannot raise money at the church this year, but if you would still like to support us do please donate online by clicking here.

Online Entry For Lights Trail & Virtual Festival Now Open!

The online entry system for both the Virtual Brightlingsea Christmas Tree Festival and the Brightlingsea Christmas Lights Trail are open!

We might not be able to host our ‘in person’ festival inside All Saints’ Church, but you can still get your creative juices flowing and bring cheer to all by entering our Virtual Christmas Tree Festival instead. Entry is free and open to all and entries must be submitted by 10 December. The Virtual Festival will go live on Saturday 12 December, when online judging by the public will also commence. Click here to enter the Virtual Festival.

And you can also now enter to be part of the Brightlingsea Christmas Lights Trail, bringing joy to the town from All Saints to the Hard. Whether it’s a full on light show, a simply lit outdoor tree or a beautifully decorated window, everyone who arranges outside decorations as their home is invited to participate. Entry is free and open to all in Brightlingsea and entries must be submitted by 10 December. The Trail will open on Saturday 12 December. Click here to take part in the Trail.

Brightlingsea Christmas Tree Lights 2020 – From All Saints to the Hard

2020 has left a real impact on community events in Brightlingsea – Covid-19 restrictions have forced the cancellation of the Music Festival, the Blessing of the Waters, the Carnival, the Town Regatta, the Bonfire & Firework Night and many more local celebrations.

December’s Christmas Tree Festival is another event that can’t go ahead as normal. However, you will be pleased to know that the festival committee and other organisations in the town are planning an alternative event to bring some light in the darkest month, by lighting up Brightlingsea from All Saints Church down to the Hard and inviting everyone to get involved, even if they are isolating or keeping at a safe social distance.

Elements under discussion include:

  • All Saints’ Church Yard display
  • Virtual Christmas Tree Display & Competition
  • Residents’ Christmas Lights Trail
  • High Street Lights
  • A Christmas Tree and lights around the Hard
  • A Christmas Ferry Ride to Santa’s Grotto  (update 2 November – sadly the new lockdown restrictions mean that it will no longer be possible to go ahead with the planned Christmas Ferry Ride)
  • Rotary Club Father Christmas Sleigh tour

Provisional Dates: 

Activities will start early December with some events focused on the weekends of 12/13 December and 19/20 December. 

How can you get involved?

All Saints Church Yard

The Christmas Tree Festival Committee is aiming to have a display in the churchyard along with the usual metal sculptures. Contact details: Elizabeth Foss-Smith or Jackie Edmunds

Brightlingsea Christmas Lights Trail

Are you planning on putting a tree in your garden this year, or maybe decorating your house with lights?  If so, you are invited to add your address to the online Town Trail Guide and enter your tree in our Virtual Christmas Tree Festival too (see below.) Further details on how to add your address and details to the Trail will follow shortly.

Virtual Christmas Tree Festival & Competition

The Christmas Tree Festival may be cancelled – but you can still show off your decorated trees and enter the usual competitions in our Virtual Christmas Tree Festival. Just take some pictures and we will be able to add them to our Festival pages (details of how to do this will follow shortly). You’ll be able to donate to local charities online, too.

            Competition categories include:

  • Favourite Indoor tree submitted by a group
  • Favourite Indoor tree submitted by an individual
  • Favourite Indoor tree submitted by a young person’s group
  • Favourite Indoor tree submitted by a young person

High Street Lights

The Town Council always put up the large lights on High Street Businesses and lights around Victoria Place Fountain Gardens. In addition, a large decorated Christmas tree is traditionally donated by a local business and placed in the war memorial gardens by the council workmen.
These displays will be up in early December and local businesses and organisations are invited to dress their windows with a Christmas Display which will be judged by the Brightlingsea Mayor and Cinque Port’s Deputy, on behalf of the Shop Brightlingsea. The categories will be:

  • Best Local Business Lights
  • Best Local Organisation Lights

Harbour Lights and Christmas Tree

The Colne Yacht Club is working with businesses and individuals in and around the Hard to produce a display of lights for everyone to enjoy. This will include a specially donated 15 ft high tree decorated with lights, as well as decorations on the Hard and boats and a Santa’s Grotto.  Anyone wishing to get involved by either making a display, lighting up their boat, or sponsoring a display in this area should contact

Rotary Santa Sleigh Tour

From 1 to 24 December the Rotary Club of Brightlingsea & District will once again be helping Santa on his visits to the streets of Brightlingsea and surrounding villages. Santa will have a brand-new sleigh this year and the reindeer have all been to summer boot camp, so do look out for him visiting your area and give him a wave! To find our more please contact Fiona Brown on

Also happening in Brightlingsea this Christmas:

Church Services in Brightlingsea 

Throughout the pandemic, local churches have adapted with the times and now offer a wide range of services that can be accessed either by booking a place in a church for a particular service, to ensure social distancing, or by allowing the public to joining via You Tube and Zoom. Exact details of services at all churches are still being defined and more information will be provided nearer the time.

Deputy’s Gift Fund Christmas Lunch

Brightlingsea has always been very proud of its 50-year tradition of providing lunch for those who would normally be alone on Christmas Day. Given the natural order of things, this is predominantly the elderly but some couples and younger people have benefitted too.  Sadly, this year it will not be possible to hold the event at Brightlingsea Sailing Club but the organisers are working hard to ensure that a delicious, freshly cooked Christmas Lunch will be delivered to those involved on Christmas Day. Please contact for more details.

Ringing In Christmas

On Christmas Eve at 6pm we are asking everyone to come outside and ring a bell for 2 mins to spread Christmas spirit and to help Santa fly that sleigh. After a tough year it would be an amazing memory for the kids and communities. End 2020 with a bit of magic, hope and togetherness!

Brightlingsea Food Bank

Christmas is going to be particularly hard for those on low incomes this year and the support of our local Brightlingsea Food Bank (an offshoot of the Colchester Food Bank) will make all the difference to many families and individuals. To find out more about how you can help visit or put a donation into the Food Bank basket at the Coop Sampsons Road.

Watch out for more details coming soon. This is a very unusual year, so let’s try and make it one to remember in a positive way and give everyone in Brightlingsea a winter treat – while keeping them safe and socially distanced, of course!

And the 2019 Winners Are

GROUP – Brightlingsea Beach School “Drift-ing home for Christmas”
Runner-up Child group  –  2nd Brightlingsea Rainbows “Elves on Shelves”
CHILD INDIVIDUAL – Florence Andrews “O Pasta tree, O Pasta tree”
ADULT GROUP – Brightlingsea U3A “Electronic Circuit tree”
ADULT INDIVIDUAL – Mr Windows “I saw three ships”
The winners of the Nativity Figure Hunt at the Christmas tree festival were:
Finley Grant ( aged 10)
Daisy Kemp ( aged 7)
They each win a prize of a book.