London Christmas Carols

 
 
 
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St Paul's

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St Paul's
Southwark Cathedral
St-Martin-in-the-Fields
Trafalgar Square
Royal Albert Hall
Southbank Centre
Royal Albert Hall Carols by Candlelight
Royal Albert Hall
Carols by Candlelight: Macmillan Cancer Care
Westminster Cathedral Christmas Carols, Concerts & Services
WaterAid Christmas Concert at St Mary Aldermary Church
Philharmonia Orchestra: Grand Christmas Classics
Christmas Carols with a Twist
Cancer Research UK: Carol Concert at St Paul's Cathedral
Christmas with King's College Choir
Ben Goldscheider is at Fanfare On The Square
 

 

There are few better ways to get into a festive mood than singing carols around the Christmas tree or in one of London's famous churches and cathedrals. To make sure you know when and where to go this Yule, read our feature on all the best carol singing, Christmas services and festive concerts in the capital - including the popular Midnight Masses at St Paul's and Westminster.

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Winter at Southbank Centre

The Southbank hosts a full season of festive entertainment.

 

There is a hefty schedule of festive fun at the Southbank Centre and on the South Bank over the Christmas period. Their Winter Festival features a whole host of events including dance, markets, music, poetry and magical encounters. Seasonal gigs include Rufus & Martha Wainwright's A Not So Silent Night (6th December), Ian Shaw & Claire Martin's Early Xmas Cracker (8th December) and Kate Rusby at Christmas (10th December). Enjoy carols and festive hits at Christmas with Alan Titchmarsh (14th Decemeber), Organoke: The Alternative Carol Service (8th December) and Jonathan Cohen's Christmas Carol Singalong on 14th December at Royal Festival Hall. On Sunday 15th December, the Philharmonia Orchestra presents Grand Christmas Classics and the Queen Elizabeth Hall foyer plays host to free events including a Caribbean Christmas, Gamelan Winter Chimes and Winter Choirs who do a rousing rendition of festive songs from 8th until 19th December.

 
 
 

St Paul's Christmas Carols & Services

The iconic cathedral hosts an extensive series of concerts throughout December.

 

Few places are better for traditional Christmas services and carols than St Paul's, the spiritual home of Great Britain. St Christopher Wren's great dome, which dominates much of the City, fills with the sound of the Cathedral Choir for a large part of the month. Kicking off with the dramatic Advent Procession on Saturday 30th November and Sunday 1st December, these special services and concerts include a candlelit procession and are both free and available to all. The cathedral also hosts charity concerts for Cancer Research UK and London Fire Brigade as well as a more informal carol service for families. The season peaks with the Christmas Carol Service on 23rd and 24th December and the excessively popular Midnight Eucharist on Christmas Eve.

 
 
 

St Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas Carols & Services

Try St-Martins-in-the-Fields for a Christmas helping of carols, candles and community spirit.

 

St Martin-in-the-Fields is a perfect venue for any kind of service or concert - especially when candlelit and on a cold winter's night - but it is really quite extraordinary during the festive period when it comes into its own with a generous dollop of Christmas carols and services. Located almost in the shadow of the towering Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, St Martin-in-the-Fields offers a seasonal glow throughout December. The line-up this year includes Festive Family Carols by Candlelight, string soloists with the Locrian Ensemble, the Complete Brandenburg Concertos at Christmas which sells out each year while services include the Parish Carol Service and midnight mass on Christmas Eve. The church also gets involved with the Lighting of the Christmas Tree and the Blessing of the Crib in Trafalgar Square - a dramatisation of the Christmas nativity with carols, music, prayer and a live donkey.

 
 
 

Southwark Cathedral Carols & Services

Catch a festive service at historic Southwark, located in the heart of Borough Market.

 

Southwark Cathedral, located in the heart of Borough Market, has a number of festive services open to the public throughout December including a special charity carol service for Mercy Ships on Wednesday 4th December. The Cathedral Choir Concerts on Sunday 22nd and Monday 23rd December offer traditional lessons and carols, no tickets required, and the bulk of the singing is done by the boys, girls and men of the Cathedral Choir. The congregation gets a chance to join in and sing some of their favourites while the festive music is interspersed with readings taken from the Bible around of the birth of Jesus. On Christmas Eve children help to build the crib at a family service, it's followed by Midnight Mass before a 9am service with carols on Christmas Day itself.

 
 
 

Westminster Abbey

Head to one of London's most famous landmarks for a traditional Christmas service.

 

Pack inside one of London's most famous landmarks for an old-fashioned service to take you right through to Christmas Day. Westminster Abbey has been at the centre of royal and religious life in Britain since the time of William the Conqueror, who was crowned here on Christmas Day 1066 following the successful Norman invasion of the British Isles. More recently, it was where Prince William and Catherine Middleton chose to get married. It's easy to lose sight of what Christmas is all about in the sea of commercialisation, but sitting in the majestic history of the Abbey's nave will help remind you of the religious message. These awe-inspiring surroundings provide a striking backdrop for an evening of lessons and carols. Most events do not need to be booked and are free to attend but for the popular services on 23rd and 24th December you will need to book free tickets in advance.

 
 
 
 

Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree & Carols

For a truly memorable Christmas experience it has to be carols in Trafalgar Square.

 

Since 1947, stately Trafalgar Square has received a majestic Norwegian Christmas Tree as an annual gift from the people of Oslo, thanking Britain for its support and friendship during World War Two. The enormous tree is a popular seasonal tourist attraction, particularly in the fortnight leading up to Christmas, when each evening (from 4pm to 8pm on weekdays, and from 2pm to 6pm at weekends) a different choir gathers there to sing carols and raise money for a range of voluntary or charitable organisations. Passers-by are welcome to come and listen to the carols in the square and join in the festive cheer. Nelson's Column is decorated with Norwegian white lights and the tree is illuminated from noon until midnight until the Twelfth Night of Christmas in early January. A few days after the official lighting of the tree there's a torch-lit procession on the steps of St Martin-in-the-Fields, as the choir and clergy bless the Crib in a special ceremony in Trafalgar Square. The tree actually goes up in late November if you want to see it in all its naked evergreen glory.

 
 
 

Fanfare On The Square

Penelope Wilton, Vanessa Redgrave and Simon Russell Beale give special readings.

 

With special readings from Dame Penelope Wilton, Vanessa Redgrave CBE and Sir Simon Russell Beale, the star-studded Fanfare on the Square concert raises funds and support for Parkinson's UK. Garry Matthewman conducts Mozart, Purcell, Handel, Mendelssohn and Strauss at St John's Smith Square with soprano Elin Manahan Thomas, baritone Dominic Sedgwick, Ben Goldscheider - "becoming a musical Bear Grylls, fearlessly leaping through dangerous terrain" (Huffington Post) - on horn and trumpeter Will Thomas. As a special extra on the night, Jane Asher, President of Parkinson's UK, will host a VIP reception where ticket holders can mingle with the stars of the show over drinks and canapes.

 
 
 

Christmas Carols with a Twist

Sing along to Christmas classics by The Pogues, backed by a 10 piece brass band.

 

Putting a twist on the traditional Christmas carols, here's a chance to belt your heart out to Christmas classics like The Pogues, Mariah Carey and Wham! backed by a 10 piece brass band. Box 9 Drumline,Secret Garden Party's house band who can usually be found roaming Glastonbury Festival, provide the beats while guest singers, rappers and DJs perform. This year's star performers have yet to be announced but in previous years writer and director of the podcast 'My Dad Wrote a Porno' Jamie Morton hosted the event with fellow narrator James Cooper and Soho Radio host GoldieRocks did the DJ sets. All in the name of a good cause - namely children's charity Hop, Skip and Jump - the evening includes a raffle where you could win a holiday to the South of France, among other prizes.

 
 
 

WaterAid Christmas Concert

Comedian Shappi Khorsandi reads 'How the Grinch stole Christmas'.

 

Enjoy favourite carols and mulled wine in the beautiful setting of St Mary Aldermary Church and join celebrities including comedian Shappi Khorsandi in raising money for WaterAid. Shappi who'll be reading 'How the Grinch stole Christmas' is joined by casualty actress Amanda Mealing, the Three Degrees singer Sheila Ferguson and other special guests while the stunning Some Voices Choir lead the singing. Get in the festive spirit with spiced hot chocolate and bunuelos - traditional seasonal treats enjoyed in Colombia, one of the countries WaterAid works in, striving to make clean water and sanitation available to everyone by 2030.

 
 
 

Cancer Research UK: Carol Concert at St Paul's Cathedral

Jeremy Irons, Dominic West and Emily Watson give seasonal readings in the majestic setting of St Paul's.

 

Celebrities including Jeremy Irons, Dominic West and Emily Watson come together with St Paul's Cathedral Choir and The Band of the Welsh Guard for a special Carol Concert in support of Cancer Research UK. Helen George and soprano Sophie Bevan are also among the actors, singers and musicians joining in the evening of festive celebration on Tuesday 10th December at St Paul's Cathedral to give seasonal readings and exclusive performances. One of the most spectacular of all the Christmas carol concerts in London, the fundraiser is a lovely way to get into the festive spirit. You'll not only enjoy music in magical surroundings but take comfort from the fact you're helping to prevent, diagnose and treat cancer.

 
 
 
 

Carols by Candlelight: Macmillan Cancer Support

Samantha Bond supports the charity as carols are sung by award-winning choir Vox Cordis.

 

This enormously popular carol concert held to raise funds for Macmillan Cancer Support, now in its 29th year, takes place at the Grade II listed St Paul's Church, Knightsbridge. The Carols by Candlelight concert features well known carols for all to sing along to and includes performances and readings by celebrities. Familiar faces at this year's event include Samantha Bond, star of James Bond and Downton Abbey as well as a longstanding ambassador for Macmillan, Alistair Bunkall, Sky News Defence Correspondent and his colleague Sky News Presenter, Sarah Hewson. After the concert, with carols performed by award-winning choir Vox Cordis, guests can gather in the church courtyard for mulled wine and mince pies.

 
 
 

Philharmonia Orchestra: Grand Christmas Classics

Philharmonia Orchestra performs popular carols at Royal Festival Hall.

 

David Hill conducts the Philharmonia Orchestra performing 'Grand Christmas Classics' including works by Adam, Darke, Rutter, Schubert and Bach. Adam's O Holy Night, Darke's In The Bleak Midwinter, Rutter's The Twelve Days Of Christmas, Schubert's Ellens Gesang 3, Hymne An Die Jungfrau', 'Ave Maria' and Bach's Opening Chorus from Christmas Oratorio are all part of the programme. The concert also features Christmas popular carols like O Little Town of Bethlehem, O Come all ye Faithful, Hark! the Herald Angels Sing and Good King Wenceslas with soprano Mary Bevan and The Bach Choir.

 
 
 

Christmas with King's College Choir

The well known choir joins forces with the Philharmonia Orchestra.

 

The Philharmonia Orchestra joins forces with the world-renowned Choir of King's College, Cambridge, at the Barbican for a seasonal celebration, performing a selection of Christmas carols. Enjoy an evening of festive classics performed by the famous voices of the chapel choristers and the Crouch End Festival Chorus who have also sung with Andrea Bocelli at The O2 Arena and at the Royal Albert Hall. The concert is the first of a festive series at the Barbican Centre which runs from Monday 16th December until Wednesday 1st January and includes The Greatest Show Tunes, a concert by Aled Jones and concludes with the New Year's Day Prom.

 
 
 

Westminster Cathedral Christmas Carols, Concerts & Services

The choir of London's principal Roman Catholic Church performs two Christmas Celebration concerts.

 

London's principal Roman Catholic Church is running its annual Christmas Celebration concert on the Wednesday and Thursday before Christmas. Performed by the Westminster Cathedral Choir and Orchestra, the events also include some festive readings. On the night before Christmas, there will be a Vigil Mass and the annual Midnight Mass at 11.30pm, while on Christmas Day Mass is held at both 10.30am and 3.30pm. London's only example of neo-Byzantine architecture, Westminster Cathedral boasts a magnificent campanile that emerges 274 feet into the sky. While 12 million burnished terracotta coloured bricks adorn the exterior, parts of the interior remain poignantly bare a potent reminder of the lack of funding which plagued construction in 1895. Plain walls and simple candlelight form a stark contrast to the colourful mosaics and marbles, and Eric Gill's nave detailing the fourteen Stations of the Cross.

 
 
 

Carols at the Royal Albert Hall

Compere Greg Beardsell will lead you through mass sing-alongs.

 

Extending to the four days this Christmas, the Royal Albert Hall's Christmas Carols programme is a fun-filled jamboree of carols and Christmas hits where you can sing along to festive favourites in spectacular surroundings. Join the Royal Choral Society, National Youth Choir of Great Britain and Royal Philharmonic Orchestra for traditional carols, modern arrangements, and festive favourites. Compere Greg Beardsell will lead you through mass sing-alongs to your favourite carols and new versions of well known festive songs.

 
 
 

Christmas Cracker With Aled Jones

Aled Jones presents seasonal classics, festive readings and joyful song.

 

The TV presenter, who first found fame singing the soundtrack for the film 'The Snowman', introduces carols and other Christmas music at the Barbican with the London Concert Orchestra, The London Chorus and Southend Boys' And Girls' Choir. Aled Jones presents a wonderful concert of seasonal classics, festive readings and joyful song, all crowned by a selection of favourite carols for all. Conducted by Adrian Lucas with soprano Jennifer France, songs include Willcocks' Jingle Bells, Cullen's Joy to the world, Rutter's The Angels Carol and Blake's Walking in the Air - the song most closely associated with the young Aled Jones - among others.

 
 
 
 
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