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‘What Christmas is all about’: 416 nativity scenes on display in Lethbridge

WATCH ABOVE: The Nativity scene is a sacred symbol of Christmas, and one local church has taken it to the extreme. Erik Mikkelsen reports.

LETHBRIDGE – It’s not every day that you can see over 400 different nativity scenes under one roof. The festival of nativities started Thursday and runs until Saturday afternoon at Lethbridge’s Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Scenic Drive South next to the Enmax Centre.

Exactly 416 intricate collections from around the world are beautifully displayed in the gymnasium, among a handmade set of Bethlehem. Festival chair, Traci Sherwood, said people from all walks of life are invited to take an hour out of the busy holiday season, to enjoy the calmness of the festival.

“It helps you get away from the hustle and bustle and it helps you focus,” Sherwood said. “You come in and you feel a sense of peace here. I think that’s why it’s important… who doesn’t need a feeling of peace?”

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The same festival was held 15 years ago, but hasn’t been in Lethbridge since. Wade Pierson said the community was ready to share the collections with others.

“It just brings a neat spirit,” Pierson said. “It helps you remember what life is all about, and what Christmas is all about. ”

Each display is different in some way, but all related back to the nativity scene most know very well. Sherwood said while walking through there is always something new to see.

“There are about 100 here that my eyes keeps going to,” Pierson said. “Every time I walk around I see a new one.”

Organizers said the festival is free to all community members, regardless of faith. It runs until 9 p.m. Friday and from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday at the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints on Scenic Drive South. Music concerts take place at 6 p.m. Friday and at noon on Saturday.