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!

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