YORK Minster is holding the city centre's first Christmas tree festival to capture a festive community spirit.

Adjacent to the new Winter village in the cathedral's grounds, the festival marquee opens tomorrow (Thursday, November 18) and will showcase 40 trees decorated by local businesses, charities, and schools.

They will each compete in two 'Best Dressed Tree' competitions, allowing visitors to vote for their favourite tree via a QR code.

One competition is between the schools, for a chance to win £200 for their school, and the other is between the businesses to win £200 for a charity of their choice.

Neil Sanderson, director of the York Minster fund which organised the festival, said: "We're excited to be opening our new Christmas tree festival, which we hope will help spread some seasonal cheer while supporting one of the world's most magnificent cathedrals.

"The tent looks atmospheric in the dark as the tree lights are lit, and round the corner of the tent will be another tree where visitors can light a candle, say a prayer, and take part in family craft activities, such as making Christmas tree decorations, on Saturday, November 20."

Festival-goers will walk through the Christmas tree trail to admire the creativity of the local community.

Neil explained that the festival has given local businesses a chance to get involved in a communal project, with many coming after their working day to decorate their tree.

The Minster's own tree has been decorated with miniature handcrafted casts of the stonemasonry inside the Minster.

Neil said: "A small pupil from St Paul's C of E Primary School placed the large star on the top of their tree, and many schools made their decorations from recycled or natural materials.

"Homelessness charity Carecent decorated their tree with recycled food wrappers made into stars, and Thorpe Dental Group decorated theirs with little toothpaste tubes and brushes."

The trees have been provided by York Christmas Trees, who supplied 10, Downing Street with their 2020 tree.

Admission is from 10am-3pm, costs £2.50 and does need to be booked in advance via www.yorkminster.org.