Melton’s spectacular Christmas Tree Festival is now officially open after thousands of twinkling lights were switched on last night (Thursday) by a brave little girl who twice battled leukaemia.
Evie Moore, who is seven, was the special guest at a wine and buffet launch evening for the stunning display at the town’s St Mary’s Church.
Evie was just three when she was first diagnosed and she had a life-saving bone marrow transplant when it returned.
But in April this year she proudly rang a bell at Sheffield Children’s Hospital to signify the all-clear from the disease.
And there is even a special display created for her - Evie’s Tree - which was made by fellow pupils at St Mary’s Primary School and which features lots of bell ornaments.
Before last night’s launch ceremony, when the church was plunged into darkness before Evie swtiched on the Christmas tree lights, there was a welcome and introduction by Melton Mowbray Team Parish Rector, the Rev Kevin Ashby.
This was followed by a reading, prayers and then members of Melton Mowbray Choral Society led the singing to the carol O Little Town of Bethlehem.
Visitors to the festival, which opens to the public this morning at 9am with last admission at 8pm, will be able to see more than 1,300 festive trees decorated by community groups, businesses, schools, clubs and other organisations.
Refreshments are served all day with mulled wine and mince pies available from 5pm.
Tomorrow (Saturday), the festival is open from 9am until 4.30pm, and on Sunday from 9am to 4pm, with Songs of Praise amongst the Christmas trees at 6.30pm led by Hathern Band.
The festival will also be open to the public on Monday and Tuesday with refreshments sold all day.
It costs £2 to visit the event and accompanied children are admitted free.