THE annual Festival of Lights at St Mungo's Parish Church is proving to be a beacon of hope for people in Alloa.

The festival, organised by the church's Marie Campbell and Graham Hunter, features 30 sponsored and decorated trees in the church hall with people given the chance to take a look at the weekend.

Due to ongoing restrictions, organisers had to be careful in controlling the number of people inside the building at the one time, but many were happy to queue to see the spectacle.

Young and old were both keen to see the display after what has been a difficult 2020, owing to Covid-19, for many.

The weekend's event was well attended and even Santa made a surprise appearance.

Session clerk Marie told the Advertiser: “A lot of people loved the trees because they felt this was the most positive place they have been in for such a long time – it was just full of hope, which was really what I think everybody needed.

“That's one thing that was very strong.

“A lot of trees carried the theme of what has happened in 2020, many were supporting NHS workers, delivery people and more.

“One of the local hairdressers', their tree is all dressed up with face masks and gloves and all the things they had to adapt to in their working life now.”

Another popular element was the Memory Tree, taking centrepiece in the church.

People were invited to leave a card and messages to remember those who are no longer around to brighten up their days.

Also in the church, Marie's husband chef Billy Campbell was busy serving up treats at St Mungo's Café, which has been growing in popularity since it opened earlier this year.

He will continue to work until December 19, taking a break to recharge his batteries before returning in early January next year.

Church minister Sang Y Cha added: “More than ever, in a year like this, what we needed was to have lights and also the sense that Christmas is coming.”

As the event was in full swing, the Christmas tree lights were also switched on in the town centre, organised by Alloa First.

Many families took advantage of both events, breaking the boredom of lockdown Saturdays.

Diane Brown, project manager at Alloa First, said: "Due to Covid-19 restrictions we were unable to hold our usual Christmas Tree Switch On event but Christmas isn’t cancelled completely.

"We still have the lovely tree and street lights up.

"We’d also encourage families to shop local this Christmas and take part in our Naughty Elf Trail searching for 30 mischievous elves hidden in locations around the town centre.

"Santa’s special post box is located beside the Christmas tree for letters to the North Pole and we’re running a shop local competition where the lucky winners can win gift vouchers to spend locally."

More details are available on or the Alloa First Facebook page.