Nativity festival must be scene to be believed at Chipping Sodbury church

Gazette Series: Archdeacon on Gloucester, the Venerable Jackie Searle, and St John's Church vicar the Rev Jane Kenchington at the launch of Chipping Sodbury's annual crib festival Archdeacon on Gloucester, the Venerable Jackie Searle, and St John's Church vicar the Rev Jane Kenchington at the launch of Chipping Sodbury's annual crib festival

MARY, Joseph, a baby in a manger – if anything says it’s Christmas it’s a Nativity and a Chipping Sodbury church is this week recreating that most famous of scenes by the hundred.

The annual Crib Festival opens today at St John’s Church for public viewing following an official preview for the Archdeacon of Gloucester, the Venerable Jackie Searle, on Tuesday evening.

The exhibition includes Nativity cribs from around the world from miniature sets to life-size knitted figures, created by volunteers from St Peter’s Hospice which is the festival’s chosen charity this year, as well as some scenes made by local children after visiting the festival in previous years. They are made from all sorts of materials including banana leaves, stone, wool, terracotta, porcelain and pipe cleaners.

One of the highlights of this year's exhibition is a glass display created especially for the festival by members of a stained glass club at Kingshill House in Dursley.

Rev Jane Kenchington said: "We are very grateful to all the people who have lent us their crib sets and to those of you who have made cribs especially for this festival.

"We are thrilled that local groups and schools have found the time to make some very interesting exhibits."

The festival was first held in 2011 with the aim of communicating the Christmas story with more people.

It runs until Sunday (December 8) and is open every day for public viewing and special events including arts and crafts, lantern making, refreshments and a clown’s children’s show throughout the day on Saturday (December 7).

To coincide with Victorian Evening this Friday (December 6) donkeys will be in church for children to meet and there will be toddler craft activities. Chipping Sodbury School Choir will perform at 6pm and there will be drumming workshops throughout the evening.

The festival closes on Sunday at 4.30pm with a special contemplative reflection at 5pm. Everyone is welcome.

Public viewing times are 10am to 5pm Wednesday, 11am to 5pm Thursday, 10am to 9pm Friday, 10am to 5pm Saturday and 11am to 4.30pm on Sunday.

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