First held in 2003, Brightlingsea Christmas Tree Festival has been a huge success growing from just fifty-seven trees in the first year to nearly a hundred trees today. Individuals, families, charities, churches, schools, shops, businesses, clubs and societies – all with links to Brightlingsea – bring trees to decorate in the church, some on a Christmas theme, some funny and some to reflect a business or organisation.
For 2021 the festival will be a little different to ensure it is a Covid safe 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 Peter and Olivia will have plenty of their lovely Christmas stock for sale in The Little Boat Gifts Shop on New Street. 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. We will also be extending the opening times of the festival to include Friday 10 December from 4pm to 8pm, as well as the traditional opening from 10am to 6pm on Saturday 11 and Sunday 12 December, to help reduce the risks of crowding.
There is no fee for displaying a tree, but a small entrance charge for coming to look at the display – although children under 16 are free.
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 will be published on the website shortly.
As well as providing one of the town’s best loved festive events, Brightlingsea Christmas Tree Festival raises much needed funds to support the upkeep of the historic All Saints Church and St James’ Church. As of the 2020 festival some £140,000 has been raised by the event.
In all, over 300 people are involved in organising and running the Festival. Throughout the Festival choirs, soloists, organists, pianists and instrumentalists play and sing for visitors in the Lady Chapel adding to the delights.
A Festival Shuttle Bus operates on both days (see Festival Bus/Park & Ride page).
There are no toilet facilities within the church, but a Portaloo is installed near the Lych Gate.
Come and see for yourself! You will find something to interest all ages – from the winter wonderland effect of the decorated church grounds, to the clever jokes and elaborate decorations that sparkle on the trees and the age-old glory of the nativity figures.