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Bumper Christmas tree festival sees record entries at Ipswich St Mary-le-Tower

PUBLISHED: 17:48 01 December 2017 | UPDATED: 11:34 04 December 2017

This year's Grand Tree Festival at St Mary-le-Tower church in Ipswich. Picture GREGG BROWN

This year's Grand Tree Festival at St Mary-le-Tower church in Ipswich. Picture GREGG BROWN

Join in the festivities at St Mary-le-Tower Church during its Christmas Tree Festival this weekend, and help support its chosen charities.

The Christmas Tree Festival at St Mary-le-Tower Church is an amazing spectacle, and returned to the town for its eighth year yesterday.

Opening most days from 10am to 6pm and running until Wednesday, December 6, this year’s festival is home to a record 110 real and artificial trees.

Interest in the St Mary-le-Tower festival, which is in the heart of Ipswich, has grown strongly each year, and this Christmas sees even more local businesses, charities, community groups and individuals joining in the celebrations.

Hundreds of beautiful Christmas trees in St Mary-le-Tower church in Ipswich. Picture GREGG BROWN Hundreds of beautiful Christmas trees in St Mary-le-Tower church in Ipswich. Picture GREGG BROWN

There are several ways in which the organisations and individuals involved in this year’s festival have done so. The most common way to get involved was for those interested in contributing to bring or pay for their own tree, and then decorate it in whatever way they wished.

Many trees are decorated to reflect the organisation that has placed them, and the church encourages variety and inventiveness.

The church has chosen three charities to support this year. A sum of the proceeds raised will first go to supporting the music of St Mary-le-Tower church. The church maintains an outstanding, cathedral-style choral tradition and faces a financial challenge to allow this to continue.

This year's Grand Tree Festival at St Mary-le-Tower church in Ipswich. Picture GREGG BROWN This year's Grand Tree Festival at St Mary-le-Tower church in Ipswich. Picture GREGG BROWN

The second charity is Lighthouse Women’s Aid, a charitable organisation based in Suffolk, which provides emotional support to women and children experiencing domestic abuse in their personal or family relationships.

Finally, Help Our Homeless Ipswich is a group of agencies that work in the town, helping those who are homeless or who are at the risk of being made homeless. This is the third charity chosen to benefit from the festival’s fundraising.

The festival is aimed at individuals of all ages, and hopes to provide entertainment for the whole family. Children are warmly welcomed to the festival and special trees and craft activities have been organised by the church team for them to participate in.

Celebrating this year's Grand Tree Festival at St Mary-le-Tower church is Donna Joyce. Picture GREGG BROWN Celebrating this year's Grand Tree Festival at St Mary-le-Tower church is Donna Joyce. Picture GREGG BROWN

The children’s space is often a hive of activity, while in a pop-up café nearby, parents and carers can grab a cup of tea or coffee, a slice of cake or a light lunch.

Last year there were around 3,000 visitors to the festival and given the growing interest, this year the church is expecting even more.

Entrance to the festival is free, however donations to the chosen charities are invited.

Celebrating this year's Grand Tree Festival at St Mary-le-Tower church is Donna Joyce. Picture GREGG BROWN Celebrating this year's Grand Tree Festival at St Mary-le-Tower church is Donna Joyce. Picture GREGG BROWN

The festival was kicked off before its public opening, with a ticketed opening event earlier this week.

The event was attended by the Mayor of Ipswich and was intended as a big thank you to all the participants, sponsors and volunteers supporting the festival.

The festival will also be closed to the public between certain times on Sunday, December 3 and Tuesday, December 5, due to services and a concert.

St Mary-le-Tower is located at Tower Street, Ipswich, IP1 3BE. 
For further details, visit the church’s website.

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