Light pours from every corner of Askrigg in the lead-up to Christmas: from the tree in the market square, the Advent windows – now an annual tradition – Christmas trees in the church and churchyard, and even the village craft shop with its festive window display.
Many village events are inevitably centred on the church as it anticipates and celebrates the birth of Jesus, but people of all faiths and none are keen to bring much-needed warmth and light to the dark and wintry streets.
An Advent window is decorated and lit each night until Christmas Eve (the final one appears in the window of St Oswald’s Church) and a map points the way to the many interpretations of the winter season: from nativity scenes to Santa Claus, from angels to reindeer.
In church this Sunday, December 10, from 3pm-5pm, Reeth Brass Band will play a selection of Christmas and other popular music. There is no charge for the concert but donations are welcome for the repair and upkeep of the 13th-century church’s fabric.
The annual Christmas tree festival, meanwhile, starts on December 16 and runs through to early January. Villagers donate and decorate trees in their individual style, which are lit from dusk each night and placed around the churchyard and in the church itself.
On Sunday, December 17, there is a service of nine lessons and carols in church at 10.30am, and on Christmas Eve there will be community carol-singing round the tree in the market square. Everyone is encouraged to bring a lantern or a candle. As the singing ends, Father Christmas will pay his traditional visit bearing gifts for the children.
At 11.30pm Midnight Mass will be celebrated in St Oswald’s.