Astbury Live Nativity (and other similar events)

Where: Astbury, Cheshire, starting at the Village Hall
When: Evenings in early December
Time: 6.30 pm


Holy Family & Guests

Nativity Plays are a widespread pre-Christmas custom, particularly common at Church schools when children take on the roles of the characters in the story of Jesus’ birth; the lead roles include Mary & Joseph, the Innkeeper, Herod,the Magi and Shepherds,and they are usually supported by a wide cast of angels and animals. In many cases, the nativity play is a child’s first experience of the performing arts. In recent years a number of locations around the UK have produced live nativity plays, in which the audience follow the cast (which for these plays are usually adults or older children) around  a set route which ends at the Stable for the birth of Jesus. Real animals will be encountered en route and as the plays often take place during the evening, torchlit processions are common, and warming refreshments are provided. One of the best known of these Live Nativity Plays is the one at Astbury in Cheshire which has been well established for several years and is organised by the Glebe Farm shop. The play begins at the Village Hall, then moves on to the local pub the Egerton Arms (where, of course, there is no room at the Inn), then through the fields to the church for the Angel Gabriel’s message and ending up in the barn as the stable. Expect real shepherds and sheep, the visit from the Magi with their gifts, Christmas carols and prayers, and mulled wine & mince pies to finish. There are now events like this held in most parts of the country, often organised by rural businesses.

Helpful Hints

In 2017 the Astbury plays take place on Monday 18th and Tuesday 19th December. It’s a popular ticketed event – in 2015 tickets were £5 for adults with special deals for families, and the tickets are available from the Farm Shop.

If you can’t get to Astbury, check your local press for similar events around the UK as there are others, though not all happen every year.

The photos are from the Wheelbirks Live Nativity near Stocksfield in Northumberland, which is a charity fundraising event held usually every other year. In 2016 the Wheelbirks event was on Tuesday 20th and Thursday 22nd December – 2018 dates are yet to be confirmed.

Click here for the Astbury event Facebook page:

and the Farm website:

and here for Wheelbirks:

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