More than 150 nativity cribs from all over the world will fill the church of Goosnargh St Mary the Virgin for a four-day festival marking the start of Advent, also raising funds for Derian House Children’s Hospice.
The figures of Mary, Joseph, Baby Jesus, the Three Kings, the shepherds, sheep, donkeys and angels of all shapes and sizes, crafted in anything from wood, glass, pottery and plastic to china, Duplo, wool and clay will be on display. Some are ducks, some meerkats, but most important of all, they are loved.
Organiser Delphine Burn, whose dream it has been to stage the festival, says: “Some are traditional, some are modern, but all are loved.”
The cribs are kindly being loaned to the church by parishioners, friends and others and will fill every nook and cranny of the beautiful, medieval church, which has recently been refurbished.
Parishioner Sylvia Smith has been madly knitting a fabulous set of figures since June, while fellow church member Fliss Pemberton has created a Mary, Joseph and baby out of beer bottles and both ladies are members of the team helping lay reader Delphine.
St Mary’s Nativity Crib Festival opens with a special service at 6pm on Thursday, November 30 and will be open on Friday and Saturday, December 1 and 2 from 10am-4pm and on Sunday, December 3 from 1pm-4pm. Entry is free, but donations will be gratefully received for Derian House.
Delphine says there will also be “a heavenly host of Angels hovering over the church”, seasonal refreshments, the organ will be played from time to time and there is a fancy dress corner where children can dress up to be part of the nativity scene.
Sylvia says: “There are many Christmas tree festivals, but very few nativity crib festivals, Fliss adding: “The interest the festival has generated has been incredible.”
Delphine came up with the idea after visiting Bath just after last Christmas. She went into a church that had just held a Christmas crib festival and although she didn’t see it, the idea struck her as being a very good one, saying that in the troubled times of our day it would be “nice to remember that God gave his son to us because he loves us”.
She adds: “I am so grateful to those who have put this together and helped me to realise the dream I had.”