In the spirit of Christmas, Centenary United Methodist Church prepares to unveil its 11th annual Festival of the Nativities.
Either contributed or permanently donated to the event by Centenary members and those in the Lawrence community, the Nativity sets encompass a vast array of cultures.
Nancy Atchley, co-chair of the planning committee, said she expected more than 300 Nativity sets to be displayed.
"We have all varieties of Nativities from all over the world," said Atchley, a longtime member of Centenary.
"Each one has a different depiction of the holy family."
In addition to the traditional portrayal of Joseph, Mary, baby Jesus and the Wise Men, angels and animals will also be featured.
Set to the backdrop of delicate lighting, poinsettias and trees, event-goers can expect a variety of mediums used to express the Nativity scenes, including ceramics, wood, bamboo, coal and paper.
Soft Christmas carols resonating throughout the venue will set the tone for visitors to enjoy spiced cider, cheese and crackers.
"When people enter, things are quiet," Atchley said.
If you go
What: Festival of the Nativities When: noon-4 p.m. Dec. 3-4, 10-11, 17-18 Where: Centenary United Methodist Church, 245 N. Fourth St. Admission: Free; donations appreciated
"It's a time to slow down and reflect."
To keep variety in the mix, a different arrangement of the scenes is showcased each time.
"We try to do a different display layout every year," Atchley said. "It's beautifully done."
With such an undertaking comes a breadth of preparation.
"We started at the end of October to get the display space ready," Atchley said.
One attraction Atchley is particularly fond of is a tree decorated with Nativity items.
In addition, a holiday gift shop and home baked goods will be available to those on hand.
- Gifts worth giving
- Something special can be found at art fair
- Health Care Access benefit will take participants on Lawrence Holiday Homes Tour
- Festival of supporters undertake Shelter Inc. benefit
- Seasonal sounds
- Community contributions give multicultural touch to Festival of the Nativities
- Sweet projects
- The 75th year
- Lawrence Arts Center, community help bring 'A Kansas Nutcracker' to life
- Toasting tips for New Year's
- Homemade wreaths simple holiday project
- Tradition alive
- Upcoming holiday events
As well as helping to plan the event, Atchley, an avid collector of Nativity scenes, will display her own pieces.
She plans to show between 80 and 90 scenes.
"It's a great activity," Atchley said.
Chris Jump, an event organizer, is involved for similar reasons.
"It's festive, yet relaxing," Jump said. "For me, it's kind of reminding us of what Christmas is about."
Jump plans to display between 30 and 40 pieces of her own, including one from the Philippines made of pine needles.
In addition to the pageantry, Jump finds profound meaning in the festival.
"It's a worldwide phenomenon, and everyone sees it a little differently," she said.
"Everyone's depicting the same event, yet everyone has their own take on it."
Jump noted cultural diversity as a catalyst for the event.
"I really like seeing the representations of the different cultures and how everyone sees religion from their own perspective and God from their own point of view," Jump said.