Christmas trees brings hope and smiles to Balerno

This year’s Balerno Christmas Tree Festival, organised by Harmeny, was an outdoor spectacular.

Trees were displayed in five venues around the village. Visitors could follow a route from the Scout Hall and St Mungo’s via the parish church and Moore’s up the hill to Mansfield Road. Along the way, the most intrepid trail trekkers collected letters to solve a festive anagram. (The answer? “Deck the halls with boughs of holly.”)

Long before dawn, volunteers had been setting up trees, and decorators putting final touches to their displays. Because of pandemic restrictions, we couldn’t set up indoors this year (even the trees were socially distanced!). However, the dreich weather didn’t put visitors off. If anything, with the Farmers’ Market also in full swing, the trees got even more passing visitors than usual.

Harmeny’s interactive “tree of kindness” (spot the clever Q codes)

Inspired by the outdoor settings (and the need to be waterproof!), there was a strong eco theme running through this year’s decorations – from baked orange segments to nuts, berries, and a cheeky banana reindeer.

Timely messages of hope were there too, for example in the Scottish Women’s Institute rainbow-hung “tree of hope”, runner up in the People’s Choice vote for favourite tree.

Award winning Scottish songwriter Mike McKenzie awarded the judge’s prize this year to

Tiphereth Camphill Edinburgh. He especially liked “the individuality of all the different elements put together”.

Mike McKenzie announces this year’s Judge’s Choice

Mike also praised Harmeny’s own tree, with its interactive Q code, linking users to our amazing animated story of kindness, The Mice and the Bakers. He was also thrilled by Dean Park Primary School’s “dressed up” fir apple potato decorations, which Mike said were “the most delightful things I’ve ever seen in my life!”

Other visitors agreed, and voted Dean Park’s tree winner of the People’s Choice award.

Huge thanks to volunteers, venues, decorators and all the visitors. Over £1,000 has been raised to support our Learning for Life Appeal. Above all, it was a really enjoyable day on which Harmeny School and Balerno village could get to know each other just that bit better. Roll on next Christmas!

Reindeer from Dean Park Primary School were a hit with visitors