BRIGHSTONE was lit up last night (Wednesday) at a service to mark the start of the 23rd annual Christmas Tree Festival.

Around 250 themed Christmas trees will be on show at eight different venues in and around the village over the weekend.

The Light up a Life Service was held at St Mary's Church and was attended by IW Lord Lieutenant Susie Sheldon, high sheriff Geoff Underwood and IW Council chairman George Cameron.

Organiser, Chris Goodman, said: "It was a fantastic occasion and the church was packed. Nigel Hartley, chief executive of Mountbatten, switched on the lights and also thanked the wonderful continued support of the Island.

"There was a retiring collection and this money will all be donated to the charity."

The service was celebrated by Rev Clive Todd, vicar of St Mary's and Rev John Izzard of Brighstone Methodist Church.

There were readings from Cllr Cameron and assistant priest, Linda Porter.

"We have an action-packed weekend lined up with craft fairs, a weekend mini market, concerts galore, a Santa's Grotto, face-painting, craft demonstrations and free park and ride from IW Pearl," said Chris.

"There is also lots of musical entertainment and, obviously, the sensational display of Christmas trees."

Tree will be on show at St Mary's Church; Brighstone Methodist Church; Wilberforce Hall; Three Bishops Pub; The Reading Rooms; Mottistone Church, the Isle of Wight Pearl and a new venue in The Sun Inn, Hulverstone.

Santa will be in his winter wonderland at the Isle of Wight Pearl on Saturday and Sunday.

Also on Saturday and Sunday there will be open air performances of Dickens' Christmas Carol with local actors depicting the age old classic in and around North Street.

There will be 15-minute performances on Saturday at 10.30am and 2.30pm, and Sunday at 3.30pm.

Free programmes, with full details of all events, including bus timetables, are available at all venues.