Association of festival churches


A conference on Festival Churches focussing on Mission and Community will be held at Sheffield Cathedral on Mon, 25th March 2019

This event will be especially relevant to Diocesan Officers and senior clergy as well as incumbents, churchwardens and PCC members who are considering alternative patterns of worship, and how their church might widen its appeal to the local community.

To find out more and to book your attendance click on the link below 


An association of festival churches has been set up by the Church Buildings Council to give support and advice to parishes looking at the “Festival Churches” model. It has a standing committee based at Church House, London with members who have expertise in liturgy, law, and community outreach.

Parishes can choose to affiliate themselves (no cost) to the association, which means they will get regular updates and materials sent to them, and can benefit from the experience and mutual support of other members.

If you have questions about or for the Association, please contact us by email or telephone (020 7898 1875).

What is a Festival church?

The concept of “Festival Churches” (or sometimes Celebration Churches) has been gaining currency and was recommended in the Church Buildings Review Paper endorsed by Synod, and projects along these lines
have been launched or are being considered in several dioceses.

A Festival Church is a church building which is not used for weekly worship, but is still a local icon and community asset. It is valued and required by the community for local events and for the Festivals of the Church (most obviously Christmas, Easter and Harvest Festival, but also local festivals, Mothers’ Day, Remembrance Sunday, Rogation Days, etc) and for Rites of Passage (Baptisms, Weddings, Funerals).

A Festival Church can also accommodate appropriate complementary uses (community, cultural and commercial), which gives opportunities to reconnect the church building and congregation with the community if this connection has been weakened or lost.

Legal changes and changes to Canon B14(a) mean that a Festival Church can remain legally “open” as a parish church, while embracing this flexibility. Previously a parish church had to have its legal status changed by a closure scheme to be able to do this, which was unnecessarily expensive and complicated, and could cause pastoral harm.

This is emphatically not about “mothballing” – it is about using these buildings in a way that is appropriate to its community, and makes the most of the opportunities the building has to offer.

Common features of a Festival Church include:

  • Flexible and specialised church services as needed in that community
  • Open during the day for visitors and worshippers
  • Increased use of church building for community needs
  • Insurance and maintenance responsibilities may be delegated / pooled / outsourced
  • A Trust (local, diocesan or national) manage these responsibilities on behalf of PCC
  • Release of energy for outreach activity

A full list of festival is available here