The Revd Helen Thorp, set to dress the trees of the festival.
 The Revd Helen Thorp, set to dress the trees of the festival.

The Revd Helen Thorp, set to dress the trees of the festival.

A Tyneside community is preparing for one of the biggest and most colourful events in its calendar – a Christmas Tree Festival.

The festival, which was first held in the Anglican parishes of Blaydon and Swalwell two years ago, is back for a repeat performance on the weekend of December 13-15. Organised by St Cuthbert Church in Shibdon Rd, Blaydon, and Holy Trinity, Hexham Rd, Swalwell, in the Anglican Diocese of Durham, the event will include plenty of Christmas trees, spectacular lights and music and be held in St Cuthbert’s.

During the first festival two years ago (the event was not staged last year), the carol service alone attracted 400 people.

The Revd Helen Thorp, chair of the Festival Planning Committee, said: “We were astonished at the way the community appreciated the vision last time and we are looking to repeat that this time. “The planning of the event has involved all sorts of community organisations. It is a real community event and we are looking forward to it immensely. “The trees are amazing and the warden is a professional electrician so the lighting effects are spectacular. We currently have half a Kilometre of cables running underneath the church floor.” The event includes (with the exception of the Friday night, entrance is free):

Friday Night “Lights On!” 7pm for 7.30pm – with Sharon Barber from BBC’s Look North pressing the red button to bring all the trees into sparkling focus, and Roly Veitch with his Jazz Trio to give a swing to the seasonal buffet. This is a ticketed event. Tickets £5 (accompanied children admitted free).

Festival Saturday 10am – 4pm The building is open for viewing the trees. From 10.30 – 11.30 am there is opportunity for parents and children to get involved in the Festival Messy Church. A programme of live music begins at 12 noon, continuing through the afternoon. There will also be a Christmas gift stall and a craft demonstration. Community Carol Service 4pm Sunday Bring the whole family to a traditional Carol service and join civic dignitaries to enjoy:

  • Singing to the church organ and guest brass band

  • The music of Blaydon West Primary School Choir and Gateshead Youth Orchestra

  • Readings by community representatives

  • A Christmas Reflection from Liz Kent, Methodist Circuit Minister

  • Light refreshments afterwards served by the cadets of Blaydon 1509 Squadron

The event will raise money for two charities – SSAFA (supporting military families) and FACT (Fighting All Cancers Together). Both charities are active within the local community.

The programme of events and sponsors will be on sale at £2. To find out more and purchase tickets, please contact: Revd Helen Thorp

Tel: 0191 4142720, h.m.thorp@durham.ac.uk Facebook: Parish of Blaydon and Swalwell It is also possible to buy tickets on the door for the Friday pm.

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