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Seven ways for families to see and hear the story of the first Christmas

PUBLISHED: 15:17 14 December 2017 | UPDATED: 15:48 14 December 2017

A nativity scene in St Mary's Church, Snettisham. Picture: Ian Burt

A nativity scene in St Mary's Church, Snettisham. Picture: Ian Burt

Nativities with real animals in stables, churches and a Bethlehem village, in Norfolk and north Suffolk

1 Step back 2,000 years and wander the streets of ancient Bethlehem as the Christmas story unfolds all around you. An outdoor live nativity includes real animals, costumed actors and lots of hands on activities at the Fountain of Life Church in Ashill, near Watton, on Sunday, December 17.

The Christmas Alive event is free and for all the family with the Biblical village opening at 4pm, and the live nativity and carols from 5-6pm, followed by mince pies and mulled wine.

2 A Lion for the King is a musical based on an ancient legend that the three wise men travelled to Bethlehem from China.

This Nativity play with a difference at Holy Trinity Church, Blythburgh, has a cast of local children and is free, with a retiring collection. Saturday December 16, 4pm.

3 Real donkeys sheep, rabbits and hens are part of the nativity stable scenes at Church Farm, Stow Bardolph, near Downham Market until December 23. Then at 3pm on Christmas Eve the stable will be the setting for a magical family crib service, retelling the story of the first Christmas with all the animals and lots of carols.

No charge to attend the Christmas Eve event but donations can be made to the charity SPANA which helps working animals all over the world.

4 The traditional nativity has been given a wonderful woolly makeover at Aldeburgh. A “knitivity” of life-sized knitted figures has moved into Aldeburgh parish church. The figures were all made by local knitters and the original Mary, Joseph, Jesus and the three wise men will be joined by more of the cast of the Christmas story each year. Visit the woolly holy family at the Suffolk church during daylight hours.

5 Animals from Snettisham Park Farm will join the congregation at St Mary’s Church, Snettisham, near Hunstanton, for a living nativity and carol service at 3pm on on Sunday, December 17.

6 Join in as the Christmas story is told in song on Market Hill, Woodbridge, on Wednesday, December 20.

The annual open air Rotary Club of Woodbridge Christmas carol service runs from 6.30-9pm, and includes a visit from Father Christmas, who will be handing out treats for the children after the carols. Money from the collection will go to Macmillan to support their work with young people in Suffolk.

7 A Christmas Tree and Crib Festival at Great Yarmouth Minster runs until Sunday, December 17, 10am-3pm. £2.

Hear Handel’s Messiah in the Minster at 4.3pm on Friday, December 15.

8 Get into the spirit of Christmas at St. Mary’s Church, Bentley, near Ipswich, on Saturday and Sunday December 16-17.

The church will be full of festive scenes and sparkling Christmas trees, 11am-4pm Saturday and 1-4pm Sunday.

Minimum donation adults £2 , children free.

9 Children are invited to dress as a nativity character and help retell the story of the first Christmas, alongside two real donkeys, at churches in the new Mitre benefice in Norwich. Join in the Christmas Eve services at Grove Walk from 3pm and Earlham Road from 5pm.

Norwich Cathedral also invites children to dress as a nativity character for its crib service at noon on Christmas Eve.

10 Hear children singing carols as part of the free Christmas bonfire event at Tuddenham Mill, Tuddenham St Mary, near Newmarket, on Friday December 22. Reindeer and an owl will join the free festive fun from 6-10pm.

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