The Easter Festival is a day festival held on Easter Saturday in one of the squares in the centre of Lancaster. The festival is organized by several churches from across the city and aims to bring a visible celebration of the hope at the heart of the Christian faith - the resurrection of Jesus Christ; to the community of Lancaster. It is held outside the walls of the churches in the heart of the city.
The festival demonstrates to the people of the city that God's church in Lancaster is vibrant and alive and is for them, not just for religious people. Alongside the line up of 6 different local music bands on a stage in front of the Town Hall, there were exhibitions of different ministries offered by the churches throughout the city. These included stands from Street Pastors, the local CAP centre, the local food bank and many other organisations that work across several churches, offering services to people of faith or none, within Lancaster.
Other activities included face painting, henna painting and fair ground stalls such as Hook a Duck and Coconut Shy. There were puppet shows on a second stage at various intervals throughout the day and a local magicitian circulated through the crowds to draw peoples attention and act as a converstaion starter. A free BBQ served hundreds of burgers throughout the day and tea, coffee and cakes were also available all day long.
The festival, now in it's 4th year, is funded entirely by the participating churches and everything is free to visitors as a way of demonstrating that the message of Easter is free to those who will receive it. Leaflets were given out to explain what the festival was about, and why Easter is so important to Christains, and these included an invitation to various Easter Day services across the city. Over 100 volunteers from different churches make the festival possible, by performing various roles from serving burgers and running the games to just deliberately welcoming people and chatting to them about Easter.
The festival is branded simply as 'The Easter Festival, brought to you by the churches of Lancaster' and has been a great way of deepening relationships between churches within the city. It is supported by both the Hope and Churches Together networks within the city and has been a mechanism to enable churches to work together to offer a simple, non-threatening way of sharing the Gospel with the people of Lancaster. Previous years have seen over 5000 visitors attend the festival, although sadly the heavy rain and strong winds this year meant that just over 3000 people came through the gates throughout the day.
www.facebook.com/hope4easter contains more photos and videos of the event.