Christmas tree forest with a difference opens

An image from the show
An image from the show

Love them or loathe them, there is no avoiding Christmas trees at a rural church outside Omagh where more than 90 have ‘taken root’.

Last night a forest of Christmas trees – “one more exciting than the last” – opened at the Light of the World Christmas Tree Festival at Holy Trinity Church Lislimnaghan.

Jean Smyth, a church committee member involved in the festival, said earlier in the week “we ran out of room and had to put up a marquee which is like a winter wonderland”.

She added: “I am not personally into putting up Christmas trees, but this is just incredible.

“Some of the primary school Christmas trees are fabulous.

“The ideas people have come up with are incredible.

“Your imagination is the only thing stopping you from creating a fantastic tree. We have had all sorts of trees at the moment including ones made with bicycle wheels and other kinds of things.

“There are even ones with wellies on the top, farm products, and items from every business including stone breakers.

“There is mood lighting for the display - which is all indoors - and the Christmas tree lights quite literally set them alight. Now all we need is good weather so people can reach our little church which is at the top of a hill.”

Ms Smyth said the event was being held “on a cross-community basis with fundraising for different charities”.

“We are hoping to raise funds for our own church which is in a bad state of repair - the church refurbishment fund - and charities including Pancreatic Cancer through Action, St Vincent de Paul and the Bishops’ Appeal which is a global poverty appeal.” she said.

“Many businesses have come onboard to help with the event and have supplied trees, many of which are amazing.

“Lots of schools have also got involved and again their trees are full of imagination.

“This is a truly cross-community event with trees from the GAA and the rugby club.

“There is no fee to see the trees but the idea is that you give a donation in a glass jar if you enjoy the display.”

The Christmas Tree Festival was officially opened last night by His Grace the Duke of Abercorn and will run until November 29.

Last night children from Gortin and Gortnagarn primary schools sang at the opening ceremony while pupils from the South West College took their own angle on the tree theme by baking shortbread tree biscuits for visitors.

Ms Smyth added: “I would encourage people to come along and see our forest of Christmas trees because they are a joy to behold.

“Families are very welcome to come along, see our exhibition and get into the Christmas spirit.”