Everything stops for tree as churches plan their Christmas spectactulars with festivals across North Herts and Central Beds

Christmas trees from Hitchin's Holy Saviour Church.

Christmas trees from Hitchin's Holy Saviour Church. - Credit: Archant

If you tend to leave things to the last minute and only drag the festive decorations down from the loft as the turkey is defrosting, spare a thought for the talented teams which have been beavering away in advance of this year’s Christmas tree festivals at churches across Stevenage and North Herts.

Christmas trees from Aston's St Mary's Church

Christmas trees from Aston's St Mary's Church - Credit: Archant

As the festive period begins, churches in the area are being transformed into forests of festive delight and there’s an open invitation for as many people as possible to go along and enjoy the varied creations conjured up by schools, youth groups, other organisations and crafty individuals.

Many festivals feature carol singing and music, too, as well as refreshments – it’s a great way to get into the spirit of the season.

Here’s a selection of the festivals which you can enjoy:

St Mary’s, Aston


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Friday, December 4, 6pm to 9pm and Saturday, December 5, 12 noon to 4.30pm. Admission £3, under 12s free. Organisers promise 21 decorated trees with contributions from village sports clubs, brownies, and the Women’s Institute. Mulled wine will be available, music will be played and there will be some games for children. Proceeds to maintaining the church.

St. Mary the Virgin, Baldock

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Saturday and Sunday, December 5 and 6, 11am to 4pm Admission £2.50, children free. Trees from youth groups, Baldock Community Minibus, Hartsfield School, the Red Hat Society and Baldock Festival.

Every year the church has a wooden tree where people can donate to the local homeless shelters – mince pies, chocolates and other festive items. The church also has a ‘toy tree’ where they ask for donations for parents who are unable to purchase toys for their children. All donated toys must be new.  

The ‘It’s Not Quite Christmas Yet’ service will be held at 5pm on Sunday.

Holy Saviour, Hitchin

Saturday and Sunday, December 12 and 13, 12 noon to 6pm. Admission is £3.50, accompanied children free.

There will be a wide range of hot and cold refreshments served.

There will be no fewer than 50 trees in total with 10 local schools, youth groups, charities, church groups, businesses and individuals and families all taking part.

Live music throughout the weekend by a variety of local musicians and Holy Saviour’s two choirs.

Organiser Clare Fleck said: ”Every year produces a wonderful range of themes and beautiful, amusing and thought-provoking trees.”

The weekend begins with a festival preview and concert on Friday, December 11.

Broadcaster and presenter Pam Rhodes will read Christmas extracts from her new book at the concert.

Call 01462 712212 or email toryevans@greatgreen.plus.com to ticket details if you would like to be there.

Letchworth Free Church

Saturday and Sunday, December 12 and 13 – 10am to 4pm on Saturday and 11.30am to 4pm on Sunday. Free admission, donations collected for Garden House Hospice.

Carol singing 3pm both days, live music throughout festival and refreshments available. There will be 30 trees in total with contributions from school, youth groups, Rotary and Women’s Institute.

St Michael’s, Shefford

Friday to Sunday, December 11 to 13 – 11am to 5pm Friday, 10am to 5pm on Saturday and 12 noon to 3pm on Sunday. Admission free.

Groups involved include the WI, Shefford Town Memorial Association, the Friday Morning Coffee Club, Shefford Town Council, and others.

The festival will finish on the Sunday with a carol service.

There will be refreshments served and a raffle. There is a vote for the favourite tree and the winner gets a trophy. All proceeds will go to the church restoration fund.

Shillington

Shillington Congregational Church’s festival will be held on Friday, Saturday and Sunday, December 4, 5 and 6. It will be open from 3pm to 7pm on Friday, 11am to 6pm on Saturday and from 1pm on Sunay, with a service at 5pm. Free admission.

Youth groups, Shillington Lower School, church wives’ and men’s groups have all registered to take part, and money raised will go to Leonard Cheshire Disability.

Minister’s wife Nola McCormick said: “It’s quite amazing what people come up with.

“We have a lot of traditional trees, but the groups make them their own. We always have refreshments and people can come along and have a sit down and a chat and look at the trees. We get such great support.”

Walkern

St Mary the Virgin church will host a festival on Friday and Saturday, December 4 and 5. It runs from 7pm to 9pm on the Friday night and from 1pm to 4pm on Saturday.

Admission is free and organisers expect around 20 trees with entries from Walkern Primary School, Walkern Players, the Royal British Legion and the Walkern Gallery all expected.

Friday evening will feature roasted chestnuts and hot sausage rolls and there will also be cake stalls, a raffle and tombola.

Visitors will be able to vote for their favourite tree – entries in previous years have included an upside down ‘Australian-style’ tree and a tree on a bicycle.

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