Recreating the nativity with our four-legged star cast

“Never work with children and animals” – so the showbiz saying goes…but that’s exactly what we’ll be doing at our living Farm Nativity, a dynamic re-telling of the Christmas story that is part of our festive entertainment programme.

It’s that slightly unpredictable element that we think makes it so compelling and ensures that every year is different.  Created and directed by Maidstone Family Church, the cast is made up of some of our four-legged farmyard animals – donkeys, goats, sheep and pigs – with the well-known Christmas story characters played by volunteers from the church’s congregation wearing authentic, custom-made costumes. All of our visitors young and old are encouraged to dress up and join in to ensure that there are always a host of angels, a flock of shepherds, several Roman soldiers and plenty of Bethlehem dwellers.

Our historic farm, nestled on the edge of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, provides a peaceful, pastoral backdrop to the Nativity story, bringing people of all ages together to be part of one of the world’s oldest, most enduring stories.

Mary and Joseph’s journey is actively re-imagined by moving the action around the farm to different locations representing different settings, where actors await to deliver their lines:  the hoppers’ huts represent Bethlehem, Dotty’s tearoom is Herod’s Palace and the all-important stable is located next to the Oast house – if in doubt just follow the star!

The performance includes musical renditions of soothing festive favourites Away in a Manger and Silent Night.  Everything is done at a gentle pace – in wellies – and if the animals are having an off day then the show must go on without them. There’s no room for divas here!

We’ve heard rumours of some farmyard jostles in recent days as the time comes to see who will make the director’s cut. It goes without saying that there’ll be a donkey or three and well, the shepherds would be lost without their sheep – or is that the other way around?   As for the goats, they’ll have a starring role too.

But even the donkeys can’t steal the show from the real-life baby, who always lands the leading role – an enduring symbol of hope at Christmas.