A Festival for all ages
During the week of 7th to the 11th February we hosted a Narnia festival based on the book by C.S. Lewis, The Lion the Witch and the Wardrobe. From November 2017 we sent out invitations with the wording:
When Lucy opened the wardrobe door she and her sister and brothers discovered a world beyond their imagination. A world frozen by evil but a world not without hope. Together they help Narnia to rediscover faith, hope and inner strength.
We invite you to join us and walk through the wardrobe and experience Narnia yourself.
Never did we expect to welcome so many people and have such an incredible time putting on such an event.
Our aim for the whole festival was to welcome our local community into the church, to build friendships and share something of what we believe as Christians. Thinking it would be helpful to have a numerical target we aimed at welcoming 10% of our parish population through the wardrobe. This equates to just under 1,300.
On the Wednesday and Thursday we welcome into Narnia school groups from Pownall Green, Ladybrook, Moss Hey, The Valley School and Queensgate. We were also delighted to welcome packs of Brownies, Guides and Beavers from across Bramhall. On Friday we opened to the general public expecting a quiet day but the stream of visitors kept flowing steady. In the evening we hosted a gala evening with live music, drinks and evening tours. This was followed by two full days of visiting on Saturday and Sunday rounded off with a celebration service and fireworks on Sunday evening.
Guests were shown into the Professors Study where they were told of the story of Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy. The professor then invited everyone to enter into the wardrobe to experience the darkness and the collected coats and cases. As one door shut another opened to reveal a great forest that had appeared inside St. Michael’s. On leaving the wardrobe, guests were caught up in snow as they were greeted by Mr Tumnus who showed them to his house.
On leaving Mr Tumnus’ residence, tours met the White Witch, passed through Mrs’ Beavers hut, receiving Jellied Eels from her as they made their way to Father Christmas. Hearing of the gifts Father Christmas intended to give the children, those experiencing Narnia went on to discover the gifts, not toys, at Aslan’s Tent.
Then came the story of the stone table Aslan’s great sacrifice, and the stone Statues before having the opportunity to be crowned a King or Queen of Narnia. Narnian guides then carefully directed guests through spring, out of the wardrobe and back to Mrs Beavers Tearooms for refreshments.
The whole event went beyond most of the planning groups expectations. Planning had taken just over 12 months but it soon became clear, with it only taking an hour to clear the church of furniture, that any expectations would be met and surpassed.
- Whether it was the atmosphere created by what became a forest of Christmas trees,
- To the constant sound of wow as people entered the wardrobe
- To the family atmosphere of commitment from church members turning up whenever they could to help
- To the joy of having so many visitors that we ran out of space and time,
The Narnia Festival at St. Michael’s was a true success. It brought the church community and the wider community of Bramhall together. When the set up team arrived in Church on the Monday morning at the start of the festival they knew something great was going to happen, when they left the following Monday lunchtime, just like Peter, Susan, Edmund and Lucy, they couldn’t believe how great Narnia was.