With two young children, December is always a bit of crazy month for us. Even the excitement over the advent calendar every day is something to behold! I’m really keen for us to start developing some family traditions for this time of year: the things that we do and the places that we go. But I find it’s easy to get carried away with Christmas, or to feel that you should be doing more. My facebook feed is full of people asking about the ‘must have’ toys and unless you booked weeks in advance, it’s unlikely that you can go to see Father Christmas when you want to.
So when an event like the Christmas Tree festival at St Lukes Church happens right on your doorstep, it’s an amazing way to get all of the ‘Christmas feels’ without travelling for ages, battling crowds or spending a fortune!
We went for the first time in 2016, and I thought I would share my photos and experiences to encourage more of you to go and support the event.
This post was written in 2017, so please check the St Luke’s church Maidenhead website for up to date charity donation information and opening times, although I have included a 2018 section with times and dates.
What is the Christmas Tree Festival in Maidenhead?
Over the weekend lots of people visit St Luke’s church in Maidenhead to see the decorated Christmas trees and to enjoy the pre-Christmas warm-up atmosphere. All around the church you’ll see multiple Christmas real trees with bright lights and beautiful and quirky decorations. Each of the trees is sponsored by a local business, organisation, or voluntary group and they are challenged to get creative with their decorations! Next to each of the trees is a charity collection pot and visitors are invited to vote for their favourites with their small change. There are Christmas Tree Festivals all over the UK, but the Maidenhead event was started by Reverend Sally Lynch after she moved from Epping in Essex to Maidenhead.
“If I was to describe the event to someone that’s never been to our Christmas Tree Festival, I’d say it’s magical and beautiful. It really does evoke all the senses. It starts off Christmas. ” Sally Lynch: Reverend at St Luke’s Church
At the end of the event, the tree that has raised the most money is declared ‘the winner’. They receive a certificate, and a donation is made to charity. This year the chosen charity is Planets which is a new charity based at Southampton General Hospital, dedicated to defeating Pancreas Liver And NeuroEndocrine Tumours (NETs). They raise money to help the hospital provide world-class care for patients. Any other funds raised go towards the St Lukes church fund which helps to maintain the the church and supports projects in the community and beyond.
On the Monday following the event, you can even buy one of the trees by offering a minimum donation of £15. Just visit the welcome desk by the door to place your order.
This is the 7th year that the Christmas Tree Festival is running in Maidenhead, and they are hoping to beat last year’s totals of £1247 raised for charity and £2600 for St Luke’s church.
When is it?
The festival opens to the public on Friday 8th December at 10 and is open all day until 7 with stalls selling seasonal items and refreshments on offer too. In the evening, visitors can enjoy free entertainment by ‘Wind and Words’ at 7.30pm.
Across the weekend you can go on Saturday 10-7pm and enjoy a free concert by the River Saxes at 1 pm, or you can go on Sunday 12-6pm with a ‘Christmas Tree’ Service at 6 pm.
Parking is mostly on the street by the church so allow yourselves lots of time if you are visiting.
Full details about the event are available on the St Lukes Church website.
“It really took off last year with a stream of people passing through the church all the time – the best time to come is at dusk or when it is dim outside!” Sally Lynch: Reverend at St Luke’s Church
2018 times and dates for the Christmas Tree Festival
Friday 7th December 2018: The church opens to see decorated trees at 10am and there are stalls and refreshments. At 7.30 there is a ‘Winter Wonderland’ concert.
Saturday 8th December 2018: The church opens at 10am with stalls and refreshments. There are sandwich lunches available from 12 and a free concert at 1. The event closes at 7pm.
Sunday 9th December 2018: The church opens at 10am with stalls and refreshments and at 6pm there is a Christmas tree service.
Full information is available on the St Luke’s website.
Who should go?
The festival is open to everyone, and I would encourage you to go. Last year I was a bit worried about letting my tiny tot loose in there, thinking of the chaos he would cause. My husband carried him near the trees and then let him walk around a little at the end. But wow. How pretty it all is with the Christmas lights! It was definitely worth it.
My daughter was 4 when we went last year, and she liked the idea of making her own choices about her favourite tree and cutting money into the pot, so make sure to take a bag of any loose change you have at home.
Behind the scenes at the Maidenhead Christmas Tree Festival
After my visit to the festival last year, I was keen to find out more about the event. Although the event is only on for a few days, it takes a lot of planning:
“It takes all year to plan but we have it well under our belts now and just get on with it.There is a team of around ten people who do all the hard labour getting the trees into position and then the whole church helps out with staffing the weekend, making cakes, publicity and so on. Everyone contributes to the huge hamper which is the first prize in the raffle. We have got to know our tree sponsors well too and enjoy meeting them each year (and in between).” Sally Lynch: Reverend at St Luke’s Church
What did I think?
The Christmas Tree Festival at St Lukes Church in Maidenhead is utter genius. I loved the way each of the business had been creative and handmade decorations to represent their business: there was even one with cameras on it. That one got my vote for sure! I also liked the ‘remembrance tree’ where you could write a little message to someone that is no longer with you. My Nan had recently passed away and I thought this was great way to show that she was still in my thoughts.
The Christmas Tree Festival in Maidenhead is a community event that has something for people of all ages while raising money for good causes.
Definitely a lovely Maidenhead Moment. I’m looking forward to visiting over the next few days and taking more photos. I have included photos from last year’s Christmas Tree Festival in my 2018 Maidenhead Charity calendar which is on sale in the Maidenhead Heritage Centre and the Craft Coop now. You can also buy a Maidenhead Calendar online direct from me here.
If you would like to get involved next year then you can contact the Reverend Sally Lynch : email email@example.com
About this Blog
I write this ‘Maidenhead Mum’ blog to share my experiences of life here in Berkshire and beyond. I fit blogging into my ‘spare time’ around my day job and family life, but I love to share the beautiful things that I find to see and do. For more posts like this, you might like to follow my Maidenhead Mum page on Facebook or on Instagram as they are the most frequently updated. If you subscribe using the box below you’ll get my monthly newsletter with blog posts and updates delivered straight to your inbox.