UK Christian conferences: A guide for 2019

As daylight hours increase minute by tiny creeping minute, many of us will begin turning our thoughts towards the promise of long summer days ahead. What better time than now to settle in for the evening with a mug of hot chocolate and begin hatching your escape plans? Whatever kind of adventure you prefer, you'll be spoilt for choice with the many Christian conferences, festivals and events happening in the UK during 2019. Here's a round-up of just a few:

The Keswick Convention takes place in the inspirational setting of a world heritage site, the English Lake District, located in the north west of England. It began in the town of Keswick, on the vicar's lawn in 1875, and has grown to be a globally recognised Christian event attracting around 12,000 visitors over the varied all-age three week programme. In addition to a wide range of speakers and worship musicians there are activities tailored for children and young people. The ancient town of Keswick is a pure delight to explore with lovely cafes, quirky shops at every turn, dramatic scenery and an impressive range of outdoor activities on offer locally.

Wikimedia CommonsKeswick with its famous Moot Hall.

During last year's convention, Steve Clifford, general director of the Evangelical Alliance commented on Twitter: 'Great to spend today at Keswick convention, thousands opening God's word asking Him to speak to them. Such a beautiful part of the country.'

Week One is July 13-19, Week Two July 20-26 andWeek Three July 27-August 2. Details about the Keswick Convention and other conferences and courses are here.

Spring Harvest is a Christian conference that takes place four times a year across three different UK locations. Butlins Holiday Park at the seaside town of Skegness on the north-eastern coast of England hosts one conference. Two conferences are hosted by Butlins Holiday Park in Minehead on the south-western coast. And a fourth conference takes place at the swish Harrogate Convention Centre in Yorkshire. Spring Harvest boasts a packed programme of teaching, worship, kids and youth programmes, entertainment, celebration and a range of facilities for visitors staying at the Butlins resorts.

Christian TodayWorship at Spring Harvest.

Riding Lights Theatre Company commented on Twitter: 'We're so excited to be heading to Spring Harvest Harrogate this year!'

Minehead is April 9-13 and 13-18,Harrogate is April 13-17 and Skegness is April 15-19. Details of these and other Spring Harvest events are here.

United 19 is a New Wine Christian Conference which takes place twice a year at the East of England Showground, Peterborough. The showground has facilities for campers and for non-campers and there are more than 1,000 hotel rooms nearby. United 19 offers teaching and worship and says it is a space for 'our church network to spend quality time together' and 'helps resource and commission the local church'.

During last year's conference, research administrator Ruth Wills commented on Twitter: 'Busy day at United 18, great teaching from @josaxton and @nicolanealug both reminding us that we create worlds with our words/words create worlds. It matters what and how we speak over people as we go through life.'

United 19 runs from July 27–August 2 and August 4–10. Details are here.

The Gathering for Men is a weekend festival for men which takes place 'in a field near Swindon' in the south west of England. Visitors can stay in local accommodation, stay in their own tent, caravan or motorhome, or rent a pre-pitched tent. The Gathering has a programme of speakers, worship and a wide range of fun activities tailored especially for men. It's a popular event for Christian men wishing to bring along their non-Christian friends.

Worship was part The Gathering 18 experience.

During last year's conference, Zeo Men, a Christian men's group based in Hitchin commented on Twitter: 'The Iron team, a band of brothers from @HCClatest who have just shared Communion after an amazing weekend with 2100 blokes at @cvmTheGathering growing in Christ together. Fellowship, fun, learning and journeying together all with Christ at the heart of it #TG18.'

The Gathering runs from June 21-23. Details are here.

Cherish Women's Conference is a popular women's event which takes place in the First Direct Arena in the city of Leeds, in the north east of England.

During last year's conference Jenny Betts, a wife and mum from County Durham commented on Twitter: 'Already put Cherish 2019 into my diary after a fab conference of 7,000 ladies worshipping together this year! Had the most amazing time with sisters in Christ.'

Cherish runs from May 30–June 1. Details are here.

Big Church Day Out is a two-day event that takes place in the rural location of Wiston House, West Sussex. Accommodation is on a campsite or glamping village. Big Church Day Out boasts a range of family fun activities including fairground rides, juggling jesters, puppets, owls, a zoo, family entertainment, artisan stalls, food vendors, bars and cafes, and a bazaar with a selection of Christian ministries and traders. The main stage hosts a number of big name Christian worship bands.

Maresa SmithBig Church Day Out is held in West Sussex.

During last year's event Sally Thompson, a herbalist from Sussex, commented on Twitter: 'Starting to get ready at #BCDO Big Church Day Out tomorrow. Looking forward to 20,000 plus people to smile as they come through the ticket gates!'

Big Church Day Out runs from May 25-26 (with additional days either side for campers to set up and pack down). Details are here.

Edgefest is a family-friendly camping festival that takes place in an area of outstanding natural beauty at Taunton Racecourse Conference Centre located in the south west of England. The event offers a main social space in a central lounge, evening meetings, coffee bar, inflatables, games, a range of activities for children and youth, bookstore, hot food, teaching, all age worship sessions, seminars and pastoral care. Edgefest bills itself as 'An easy festival to invite family and friends to.'

Alastair Weller attended Edgefest 2018. He commented on Facebook: 'It's a bible weekend for everyone, but it's a bit different as well; some of the craziness of The Gathering, brilliant worship, solid teaching, Gospel message, time to spend together as a family having fun or just chilling in the lounge. A big value of the festival is also creating the opportunity to give people a holiday/bible week experience who wouldn't otherwise be able to have one.'

Edgefest runs from August 3-9. Details are here.

Creation Fest s a free music festival with a week of faith talks, family fun, skate and much more held at the Royal Cornwall Events Centre in Wadebridge, Cornwall. There are dynamic speakers and teachers offering a full programme of Bible teaching, seminars, discussions and workshops, UK and international bands with folk, rock, pop, rap, worship and other genres – and a massive skate park. 

Creation Fest runs from from August 3-9 and details are here

Perhaps you're not able to make it for the whole of a particular conference. Would a day trip fit the bill? Many conferences also welcome day visitors.

It's well worth visiting the relevant websites to get an overall flavour of what each event has on offer. Arrangements and programmes vary considerably as do the options for accommodation, availability, travel and costs.

Val Fraser is an author and journalist. Follow her on Twitter @ValFraserAuthor.

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