A PACKED St Mary's Church took part in a Lights of Love carol service to officially open the 22nd annual Brighstone Christmas Tree Festival.

The service was in aid of Mountbatten and its chief executive, Nigel Hartley, switched on the Brighstone tree lights outside the church.

There were readings by Isle of Wight High Sheriff, Gioia Minghella-Giddens, and Cllr Lora Peacey-Wilcox, chairman of the Isle of Wight Council, and the service was led by Revs Clive Todd and John Izzard.

Tree festival organiser, Chris Goodman, was unwell and unable to attend but Reg Hunt stepped in to welcome the guests.

He said: "The place was rammed and it was a splendid service.

"There was a real Christmassy feel about the whole occasion and you could see the smiles on people's faces as they came into the church to see all the different trees on show.

"Everyone thoroughly enjoyed the evening and joined in with the carols to make it a memorable occasion."

There will be 220 trees on show at a variety of venues over the weekend.

The main focus of a packed schedule of events is Brighstone itself, with tree displays at St Mary's Church, the Methodist church, Wilberforce Hall, Three Bishop's pub and Reading Rooms.

There will also be trees at Mottistone church and Isle of Wight Pearl.

In addition, there will be children’s trees in Brighstone Community Library and, today (Saturday) and tomorrow, Santa will be appearing in a Winter Wonderland at the Exchange in New Road (halfway between the Parish Church and the Methodist Church).

Over the weekend there will be concerts, carol singing, handbell ringing, craft fairs, mini market, lace making demonstrations, cake and biscuit raffles.

A free park and ride will operate from the Isle of Wight Pearl and Brighstone Holiday Centre on the Military Road into Brighstone village with a further free shuttle service to Mottistone and back.