THE Ilkley Christmas Tree Festival brought the community together for a festive celebration. Visitors were invited to visit St Margaret’s Church on November 21, 22 and 23 to enjoy the spectacle of 25 real Christmas trees on display, each decorated individually with many trees themed to the interests of the charity or community group.

The festival was officially opened by a ceremonial ‘cutting the tinsel’ by Ilkley Town Mayor, Cllr Mark Stidworthy and Canon Philip Gray, Vicar of St Margaret’s Church. This was followed by a new Children’s Story-time session which was generously sponsored by the two Rotary Clubs of Ilkley.

For the rest of the festival, a programme of live Christmas music was provided voluntarily by local music groups and singers, and visitors were encouraged to stay for a cup of tea and a mince pie, and vote for their favourite tree. As part of the Ilkley Grammar School Community Leaders programme, the festival benefitted from extra assistance on the door as pupils came to the festival to donate an hour or so of voluntary help.

Booths and Mortens supplied trees and batteries for the lights respectively. The winning tree that received the most votes was also the previous winner at last year’s Festival: Nell Bank Outdoor Education Centre. Their ‘Sense-ational’ tree was decorated with the theme of senses and included decorations that could be seen, smelt, felt, heard and even eaten.

Organiser Jessica Jeffrey said: “Once again, thanks to so many kind volunteers, the already breath-taking St Margaret’s Church was transformed into a magical twinkling Christmas tree wonderland. So many people helped to make this happen: from the transport of trees at the start, right the way through to the clean up at the end. Although Nell Bank won best voted tree with their incredible nature-inspired sensory tree, the voting part of the Festival is just a bit of fun. Everyone agrees that all the trees are winners – such an amazing effort from all the groups involved. I’m so grateful to all the visitors too. Generous donations given on the door meant that we even managed to raise money for worthwhile causes too”

Donations given raised £500 to be split between the two chosen charities Young Minds and Churches Together CTI 2000.

Tree decorators this year were: Rombalds District Girlguiding; Volunteering Ilkley; Ilkley and District Good Neighbours; Motor Neurone Disease Association; Ilkley Amateur Operatic Society; Friends of Martin House; Nordoff Robbins; Ilkley Flower Club; St Margaret’s Mothers’ Union Branch, Ilkley; Cauda Equina Syndrome Association; 50 Things To Do Before You’re 5; The Two Rotary Clubs of Ilkley; AWARE - Airedale & Wharfedale Autism Resource; Wharfedale Tackles Plastics; Mind Bradford; Dan’s Den; Ilkley Soroptimists; Nell Bank Charitable Trust; Ilkley INSIGHT Group; WI Bluebelles; Ilkley Candlelighters; Upper Wharfedale Fell Rescue Association; Marie Curie Helper Service; Outside The Box; The Wishes and Prayers Tree.

If anyone would like to find out more about the Ilkley Christmas Tree Festival information and contact details can be found via the website or Facebook page:, Facebook: Ilkley Christmas Tree Festival.