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Christmas Tree Festival 2023

An amazing maze walkway welcomed and guided visitors to the Christmas trees, garlands, lights and stalls of this year's festival in St. Petroc's Church, Bodmin.

Photo credit: Paul Kenealy, Bodmin Camera Club

Photo credit: Paul Kenealy, Bodmin Camera Club, bauble and trees

Hundreds of visitors come to the festival and many return year on year; some live locally while others are mostly from nearby towns. During the day school children cheerfully rehearse readings and songs for their Christmas celebrations and local groups hold afternoon carol services. Concerts amidst the trees have been tremendous.

Handbell Ringers of Great Britain, South West Region and Loveny Male Voice Choir

Josh Curnow with supporting act Matilda & Stan, Callywith College

Bodmin Town Band with Bodmin Way Community Choir

Photo credit: Paul Kenealy, Bodmin Camera Club, band and choir

Many families and friends perused the 62 trees, decorated by the community, and enjoyed morning coffee with delicious cake, a light lunch or an afternoon cup of tea, served by Rob and Roland with help from Kimberley, Sadie, Joy, Margaret and members of Bodmin’s Inner Wheel. Prices were purposefully kept low to hopefully allow everyone to enjoy festive food.

Two friends, Christine Jolliffe, from Bodmin and Marion Hill, from Blisland, were asked why they had come to the Christmas Tree Festival. Between them they said: “Tradition. We meet up here every year and make a point of doing so, to support the festival. It’s something special and local. It’s very well worth a visit.”

Kimberley, volunteer and member of the Tree Team, running the raffle and name the bear stall, was asked why she volunteers. She said: “I enjoy being amongst the trees and helping at the church.” Bryony, Dorothy, Colin and Pam took their turn at this stall. The bear’s name is Bailey!

Joanna Dingle, churchwarden and volunteer, runs the market stall with the help of volunteers Brenda, Jan, Rosemary, June, Sue and Peter. She said: “I support the Christmas Tree Festival for the joy it gives to the community.” In between jobs, Peter Dingle was asked why he volunteers at the festival. He said: “For the beauty of the trees.”

Volunteer, Mo Tandy, ran the popular pick-a-parcel stall. As she wrapped more presents, she said: “I’ve wrapped hundreds of gifts. It’s been manic. I’m starting in January for next year’s festival!”

Member of the Tree Team and volunteer, Sadie Oakley, explains why she is part of the festival. She said: “Especially this year, when money is sparse for many and a lot of families are struggling, to be able to do this for the community and share something special, helps disperse the gloom. You can’t come here and be amongst all the trees and not feel Christmassy.”

"It’s a huge achievement that the festival has been going as long as it has. It’s a privilege to be part of the planning team and continue the tradition. This year people have said the church looks fantastic, best ever, and the walkthrough is amazing.”

“All the trees are beautiful. The uniqueness of each one, represented by the effort and creativity of a local group or business, makes every tree special. However, my favourite tree is the Community Tree as it represents the whole community in one place.”

Photo credit: Paul Kenealy, Bodmin Camera Club

It was Sadie’s idea to introduce the Community Tree to the 21-year-old festival and it looks set to become one of its customs. The hope is to make visitors feel part of the festival by placing a decoration on the communal tree. Due to space, not everyone who requests a tree is able to have one. The Community Tree is there for individuals, families, groups and businesses to have a least one decoration on one of the festive trees.

Creating a walkthrough at the festival entrance is another one of Sadie’s bright ideas. It was very well received when it was new for last year and this year the walkway includes an extra room. Sadie’s plan for this year’s entrance was dreamt up last year and she already has next year’s in mind. It’s down to Roland Oakley to turn Sadie’s vision into reality.

Sadie said: “It's been a pleasure to welcome so many visitors, see excitement on children’s faces and delight in peoples’ eyes. I hope we’ll still be doing the festival in another 20 years from now.”

Roland Oakley was asked why he leads the Tree Team and gives his time to the festival. To put it in a (Christmas!) nutshell, he said: “For the community. It’s all about the community.”

Roland and Sadie also arranged a Craft Day and Film Night especially for children.

Church is not just for Christmas! St. Petroc's Church is there for the community all year round. Both church and community volunteers support its projects, such as, Community Larder, Community Circle, Time Together friendship group, Community Space, Community Choir, youth activities and events including festivals, concerts and services. Anyone in the community who'd like to be a part of this, please contact the team office on 01208 809 601.

Volunteer Tree and Prayer Tree

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