Fakenham Christmas Tree Festival welcoming thousands
In his weekly Wensum column, Fakenham writer Jim Harding discusses the town’s Christmas Tree Festival...
Our annual Christmas Tree Festival is now well under way, welcoming hundreds, if not thousands, of visitors during its eight days. With just a few days remaining you still have a chance to enjoy this magical spectacle which has transformed the parish church into a Christmas winter wonderland.
Some 50 decorated trees representing dozens of charities, both local and national, sparkle their welcome and fill the whole church. Plenty of gift stalls complement the festival whilst fun and games can be had with a tombola and raffle.
Entrance is free and refreshments are available from 10am until 7pm, with the doors open until 8pm. Recent festivals have been heavily affected by Covid which has had such a negative impact on so many gatherings near and far.
This year looks to be well on the way to raising a good income for both the church, to help with paying its parish share and new work to improve the main entrance, and, of course, for the charities who play such an important role in our society and elsewhere around the world.
I’ve often played a minor role in all this, helping decorate a tree or run a stall and, as usual, it’s been a pleasure to greet so many visitors coming in and out. My best memory is of early evening families opening the door with the youngest exclaiming with excitement at the sight of so many sparkling Christmas trees, and then the rush to drop a coin in the donation bucket sitting beneath one or other of the charity trees.
After dark is, for me, when the church is displayed at its best. I’m reminded that the first festival was in 2001, instigated following the arrival in town of new rector, Adrian Bell. Plenty doubted it would become a big success but the past years have put that fear to rest.
Of course it requires a huge amount of voluntary work to make sure everything runs smoothly. In fact, the festival team meets weekly on market days for the best part of a year in the run-up. One factor which cannot be overlooked and which, I think, says a lot about the community in which we live, is the generosity of Fakenham Garden Centre which has donated all the trees for every festival. How special is that? If you are able to support this annual treat, even at the last minute, I know you will not be disappointed. Please do contribute what you can.
I am hearing news that a significant grant is being made to enable a new indoor swimming pool to be built here in the next few years. As someone who campaigned for this when teaching P.E. at Fakenham High school I am delighted, if still a bit wary, that the dreams of so many look like becoming a reality. As residents will know both our Junior and Academy schools no longer possess the pools which for so long served so many students at both places. I will follow this up later but the siting is reckoned to be adjacent to our Sports and Fitness Centre on Trap Lane which will make this whole complex a big addition to the town’s facilities. Let’s hope it’s no pipe dream...