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From a festive food fair to a talk on World War 2 evacuees
Christmas is coming early to the National Memorial Arboretum with a series of events for families to gather during the festive season. Visitors to the 150-acre site at Alrewas in Staffordshire can enjoy a host of seasonal activities, guaranteed to instil the festive spirit, including a Christmas Food and Gift Fair, traditional carol concert, illuminations, and a series of free memorial talks. The free to enter food and gift fair starts the programme of festive events on Saturday 30 November and Sunday 1 December. Running from 9am to 4pm, it will feature dozens of stalls offering an array of artisan products, ensuring visitors can find the perfect handmade Christmas gifts and tasty festive treats. A selection of free themed children's craft activities will also be available. This will be followed by Illuminated Arboretum, which returns to the Arboretum between December 11 and 20, offering people the chance to explore a meandering mile-long route at night to marvel at the winter light experience.
The World War 2 evacuees memorial. Photo The National Memorial Arboretum
The Arboretum's memory tree will be installed in the Remembrance Centre on 1 December and as part of the Empty Chair Christmas Campaign, visitors are encouraged to write a memory or message to someone no longer able to join them at their table and entrust it to the embrace of the memory tree's branches. There is a suggested donation of £2 per tribute and the tree will be on display until the New Year. Heroes' Square will host a traditional Christmas Carol Concert on 21 December at 6pm. The Burton on Trent Salvation Army Band will play a selection of festive favourites from a stage set among hundreds of glowing candles. The free service also features the Lichfield Cathedral Chamber Choir. Early arrival is recommended due to expected large numbers. The Arboretum's 12 Days of Christmas Memorial Talks are also returning, starting on December 25 with a Facebook broadcast looking at the Second World War evacuees. Between December 26 and January 5 next year there will be a different talk each day at 10.30am and 2.30pm, discussing one of the 380 memorials at the Arboretum, exploring the personal stories that led to their dedication and the symbolism incorporated in their design.
A silhouette feature at last year's Illuminated Arboretum
Sarah Oakden, Head of Marketing at the National Memorial Arboretum, said: "As Christmas approaches many people are looking for the perfect place for family to gather and share in the festive spirit. Positioned in the heart of the country and with easy access to all Midlands' motorways, we're an ideal meeting spot for families travelling from all corners of the UK. Our programme of festive and seasonal activities means that whether you're looking to learn, pick up a beautiful hand-crafted gift, or simply take a stroll among the trees there is something here for everyone."