Grab your coat and head out for this year’s choice of Merry Christmas Matinees

What better way to get in the festive mood than by getting yourselves down to the Phoenix Picturehouse cinema in Walton Street, Oxford, to enjoy its annual three-day, feel-good film festival for senior citizens?

The only catch of course is that you have to be over 60 to qualify.

But if you are and fancy a free cuppa, a mince pie or two and the chance to win some fantastic Christmas goodies courtesy of Sainbury’s Kidlington and Westgate in Oxford, then just sit back and enjoy the show.

And particularly so as this year’s yuletide stocking of cinematic delights boasts three award-winning films especially chosen to put a smile on your face.

Jeremy Smith, entertainment’s editor for both The Oxford Times and Oxford Mail, which co-sponsors the annual event, said: “We hope this little touch of movie magic proves just the ticket for the city’s over-60s.

“This is our sixth year of staging the festival with the Phoenix, and for the first time we are especially delighted to welcome the support of Sainsbury’s Kidlington and Westgate, who have donated some very generous gift vouchers, champagne and boxes of chocolates for us to give away.

“It’s friendly, fun and should put everyone in a festive mood and your ticket is simply a copy of that day’s Oxford Mail, which you can also buy on the door for 45p.”

Matt Taylor, acting manager at the Phoenix Picturehouse, said the festival was a great chance to get into the festive spirit.

He said: “Each film is screened at 11am so no-one has to worry about travelling to or from the cinema in the dark, and as far as I’m concerned, this event kicks off Christmas for all of us here.

“There’s a really great atmosphere, and our films this year are perfectly wrapped Christmas treats.”

Christine Norburn and Louisa Bucciero of Sainsbury’s, who for the first time are helping organise this year’s festival, say they are really looking forward to seeing everyone there.

Christine said: “It’s a wonderful opportunity to spread some Christmas cheer and it is a humbling experience to be able to help those in our community who are in a less fortunate situation. We hope everyone attending enjoys the films and good luck with the prize draw!”

The mini-festival kicks off next Tuesday morning with a screening of this year’s runaway comedy hit The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel (12A), starring Dame Judi Dench (‘M’ in the James Bond films and star of TV’s hit comedy As Time Goes By), Dame Maggie Smith (Downton Abbey), Bill Nighy (The Constant Gardener), Celia Imrie, (Calendar Girls and Bridget Jones’s Diary) Tom Wilkinson (The Full Monty and Shakespeare In Love) and Dev Patel (Slumdog Millionaire).

The story of British retirees traveling to India to take up residence in what they believe is a newly-restored hotel proved not only a smash at the box office both here and abroad, but also drew huge critical acclaim.

Wednesday’s film is the charming and quirky Salmon Fishing In The Yemen, starring Ewen McGregor, Emily Blunt and Kristin Scott Thomas.

From the Oscar-winning screenwriter of Slumdog Millionaire comes a tale of vision – a sheik who believes his passion for the peaceful pastime of salmon fishing can enrich the lives of his people, dreams of bringing the sport to the not so fish-friendly desert. Willing to spare no expense, he instructs his representative (Emily Blunt) to turn the dream into reality, an extraordinary feat that will require the involvement of Britain's leading fisheries expert (Ewan McGregor) who happens to think the project both absurd and unachievable. Unmissable.

And finally on Thursday, we bring the festival to a spell-binding close with the multi-Oscar winning The Artist, starring Jean Dujardin and Bérénice Bejo.

Scooping five Academy Awards including Best Picture and Actor, seven BAFTAs and three Golden Globes, the film – set in 1920s Hollywood – focuses on the relationship between a silent star and a rising young actress as silent cinema is replaced by “talkies”.

* For more information, call the Phoenix cinema after noon on 01865 316570 or Jeremy Smith at the Oxford Mail on 01865 425435.