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23 December 2009

Beach hut open their doors for an 'advent pilgrimage'

Beach hut open their doors for an 'advent pilgrimage'

There may not have been chocolate behind these advent calendar doors, but people in Brighton found something far more powerful as they peered behind into beach huts for a life-sized variation on the Christmas tradition.

The Advent Beach Hut Calendar saw 12 huts in Brighton and Hove host art exhibitions, performances or decorations focusing on the true meaning of Christmas, with each hut using a different carol for inspiration.

Up to 120 people showed up every night between December 1 and 24 - a few hardy souls even battled to get there on the heavy snow days - to see the unveiling of each hut, which can be seen on the calendar's blog.

The events included a local choir performance, a silent disco, a book launch and more.

The calendar was financed by the Church of England's Diocese of Chichester and organised by Beyond, an initiative which uses creativity and the arts to stimulate people to think about spirituality.

Martin Poole, who runs Beyond, said: "I have talked to lots of people who treat the advent calendar as an escape from the commercialism of Christmas, and they really appreciate the chance to think about the true meaning of Christmas and feel spiritual.

"One person described it to me as an 'advent pilgrimage' and has been coming as many times as they can."

Brigton's Advent Beach Hut Calendar began last year, and Christians in other towns are now catching the vision.

This year, Pioneer minister Ben Norton, of Emmanuel Church in Bridlington, also started an alternative advent calendar in beach huts on the seafront there.