London Christmas Carols
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.
Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London, SW7 2AP
Tube: South Kensington Station
Dates: 13th to 24th December 2015
The climax of the Royal Albert Hall's Christmas carols programme is the dimly lit traditional Christmas celebration, Carols by Candlelight, a fun-filled jamboree of carols and Christmas hits. The climax of the Royal Albert Hall's Christmas carols programme is the dimly lit traditional Christmas celebration, Carols by Candlelight with readings from Dickens and the Scriptures by special guest Christopher Timothy, accompanied by the Mozart Festival Orchestra in full period costume. There are no actual candles, just an 'evocative candle-lit style setting' - but the hall is splendidly decorated to create a thoroughly festive atmosphere. For the sing-along shows irrepressible showman Jonathan Cohen leads you through festive songs including Let it Snow, O Little Town of Bethlehem, Jingle Bells and Santa Claus is Coming to Town. Fine dining packages are also available for most events. Check the Royal Albert Hall website for full details.
Performances: (times are for doors opening) Sunday 13 December - 12.15pm & 3.45pm - Christmas Carol Singalong Sunday 13 December - 7pm - Messiah Monday 14 December - 7.30pm - The BT Christmas Concert Tuesday 15 December - 6.45pm - Christmas Classics - with readings by Kevin Whately Wednesday 16 December - 6.45pm - King's College Choir Thursday 17 December - 1.45pm - Christmas Carol Singalong Thursday 17 December - 6.45pm - Classic Carols Friday 18 December - 6.45pm - Messiah Saturday 19 December - 12.45pm & 4.15pm - Christmas Carol Singalong Saturday 19 December - 7.30pm - Carols by Candlelight - with Christopher Timothy Sunday 20 December - 12.15pm & 3.45pm - Jingle Bell Christmas Sunday 20 December - 7pm - Carols by Candlelight - with Christopher Timothy Monday 21 December - 1.45pm - Jingle Bell Christmas Monday 21 December - 6.45pm - The Glory of Christmas Tuesday 22 December - 1.45pm & 6.45pm - Christmas with Aled Jones Wednesday 23 December - 1.45pm - Christmas Carol Singalong Wednesday 23 December - 6.45pm - Carols by Candlelight - with Christopher Timothy Thursday 24 December - 1.45pm & 6.15pm - Carols by Candlelight - with Christopher Timothy
The iconic cathedral hosts an extensive series of concerts, including the ever popular Midnight Mass.
St Paul's Cathedral, St Paul's Churchyard, City, London, EC4M 8AD
Tube: St. Paul's Station, Mansion House Station, Blackfriars Underground Station
Dates: 28th November to 25th December 2015
Few places are better for traditional Christmas services and carols than St Paul's, the spiritual home of Great Britain. To meet the increasing demand, this year St Paul's hosts a series of concerts throughout the month of December peaking with the excessively popular Midnight Mass service and carol concert. If you prefer not to queue you can see the services on 23rd December and Christmas Eve live on a big screen in nearby Paternoster Square. 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 and the most special services and concerts are free and available to all. The festive season kicks off with the dramatic Advent Procession on Saturday 29th November, with words and music focusing on the themes of light in darkness and hope in despair.
Saturday 28 and Sunday 29 November - 6pm - Advent Procession
Wednesday 2 December - 6.30pm - Messiah George Frederic Handel
Sunday 6 December - 1pm - Sunday Forum
Tuesday 8 December - 6.30pm - St Paul's Adult Learning: Light in the Darkness
Saturday 12 December - 5pm - Ceremony of Carols Benjamin Britten
Thursday 17 December - 6.30pm - A Celebration of Christmas
Saturday 19 December - 11am - Family Carols
Sunday 20 December - 3.15pm - Choral Evensong
Wednesday 23 December - 4pm - Christmas Carol Service
Thursday 24, Christmas Eve - 4pm - Christmas Carol Service
Thursday 24, Christmas Eve - 11.30pm - Midnight Eucharist (Communion will be served outside)
Friday 15, Christmas Day - 8am - Holy Communion
Catch a festive service at historic Southwark, located in the heart of Borough Market.
Southwark Cathedral, Bridge, Bankside, London, SE1 9DA
Tube: London Bridge Station
Dates: 29th November to 24th December 2015
Southwark Cathedral has a number of festive services open to the public throughout December. For the Cathedral Carol Services no tickets are required and the bulk of the singing is done by the boys, girls and men of the Cathedral Choir. The congregation will get a chance to join in and sing some of their favourites while the festive music will be interspersed with readings taken from the Bible around of the birth of Jesus.
Programme (check website for latest listings):
Sunday 29 November - 6pm - The Advent Procession
Wednesday 2 December - 5.30pm - Christingle Service
Thursday 3 December - Mother's Union Advent Service
Saturday 5 December - 7.30pm - Merbecke Choir Concert
Sunday 6 December - 6pm - Advent Vigil
Friday 18 December - 7.30pm - Christmas Carol Concert
Sunday 20 December - 6.30pm - Cathedral Carol Service
Tuesday 22 December, 6.30pm - Cathedral Carol Service
Thursday 24 December - Christmas Eve - 4pm - Crib Service
Thursday 24 December - 11.30pm - Midnight Eucharist
For a truly royal Christmas, a trip to Westminster Abbey is essential.
Westminster Abbey, Dean's Yard, Westminster, London, SW1P 3PA
Tube: Westminster Station, St James's Park Station
Dates: 29th November to 25th December 2015
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. Best to book in for the Services of Lessons & Carols on 23rd December and Christmas Eve which are especially popular and require (free) tickets.
Sunday 29th November - 4pm - An Advent Liturgy by candlelight
Tuesday 1st December - 7pm - Handel 'Messiah'
Thursday 17th December - 7pm - John Lewis Concert
Wednesday 23rd December - 6pm - Service of Lessons & Carols
Thursday 24th December - 4pm - Service of Lessons & Carols
Thursday 24th December - 12noon - Crib Service. The Christmas story for families
Thursday 24th December - 11.30pm - First Eucharist of Christmas
Friday 25th December - 8am - Holy Communion
Friday 25th December - 10.30am - Sung Eucharist
Friday 25th December - 3pm - Evensong
Check www.westminster-abbey.org for full details and ticketing information.
Try St-Martins-in-the-Fields for a Christmas helping of carols, candles and community spirit.
St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, Covent Garden, London, WC2N 4JJ
Tube: Charing Cross Station, Leicester Square Station, Embankment Underground Station, Covent Garden Station, Piccadilly Circus Station
Dates: 28th November to 29th December 2015
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 with a range of services and carols that would get even Scrooge singing O Come, All Ye Faithful!
Saturday 28 November - 4pm - Advent Carols by Candlelight
Thursday 3 December - 7.30pm - A Christmas Celebration
Friday 4 December - 7.30pm - A Norwegian Concert at Christmas
Saturday 5 December - 4pm - Family Christmas Concert
Saturday 5 December - 7.30 pm - Christmas Concert with Audience Carols
Thursday 10 December - 7.30pm - The Glory of Christmas
Friday 11 December - 7.30pm - Bach Christmas Oratorio by Candlelight
Saturday 12 December - 4pm - Carols for Shoppers
Saturday 12 December - 7.30pm - A Festival of Carols
Monday 14 December - 7.30pm - The Joys of Christmas
Thursday 17 December - 7.30pm - The Spirit of Christmas - The Annual Celebration
Friday 18 December - 7.30pm - Handel Messiah by Candlelight
Saturday 19 December - 4.00pm - Christmas with the English Chamber Choir
Saturday 19 December - 7.30pm - Handel Messiah by Candlelight
Monday 21 December - 7.30pm - Christmas Gala by Candlelight
Tuesday 22 December - 4pm - Festive Family Carols by Candlelight
Tuesday 22 December - 7.30pm - London Octave Christmas Cracker
Wednesday 23 December - 4pm - Festive Family Carols by CandlelightWednesday 23 December - 7pm - Carols for Christmas by CandlelightMonday 28 December - 6pm - Beethoven Moonlight SonataMonday 28 December - 7.45pm - Viennese Christmas by Candlelight
Tuesday 29 December - 7pm - Handel Messiah by Candlelight
Tuesday 29 December - 9.30pm - A Ceremony of Carols by Candlelight
For a truly memorable Christmas experience it has to be carols in Trafalgar Square.
Trafalgar Square, Central, Westminster, London, WC2N 5DS
Tube: Charing Cross Station, Leicester Square Station, Embankment Underground Station, Piccadilly Circus Station
Dates: 3rd to 23rd December 2015
Since 1947, stately Trafalgar Square receives 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 (9th-22nd Dec) 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 even 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. The tree actually goes up in late November if you want to see it in all its naked evergreen glory.
Dame Diana Rigg reads at this year's Macmillan concert in the grade II listed Guards Chapel.
The Guards Chapel, Wellington Barracks Birdcage Walk, London, SW1E 6HQ
Tube: St James's Park Station
Dates: Thursday 3rd December 2015
One of the most prestigious events in Macmillan's annual calendar, Dame Diana Rigg will read at this year's Guards Chapel Christmas Carol Concert. There will also be performances from classical pianist Janina Fialkowska, baritone Benjamin Appl, and accordionist Martynas Levickis, supported by London Contemporary Orchestra, in the grade II listed Guards Chapel, the spiritual home of the Household Division at Wellington Barracks . Hosted by Macmillan vice president and BBC presenter Martyn Lewis CBE, the soiree will include readings from a variety of Macmillan's celebrity supporters. It's a lovely way to kick off the Christmas season and the audience can join in with the Royal Military Chapel Choir singing festive carols.
David Suchet and Richard Wilson appear at this charity concert hosted by ITN's Julie Etchingham.
St Peter's Church, Eaton Square, 119 Eaton Square, London, SW1W 9AL
Tube: Victoria Station
Dates: Thursday 3rd December 2015
BAFTA award winning David Suchet, currently appearing on the London stage as the formidable Lady Bracknell, is one of the celebrity readers at the Kids For Kids Christmas Concert. The Poirot actor is joined by Richard "I don't believe it" Wilson who is also reading at the Candlelit Carol Concert hosted by ITN's Julie Etchingham. Enjoy the star-studded concert in Eaton Square followed by mulled wine and mince pies, and raise money for the children of Darfur - there's no better way of embracing the true spirit of Christmas.
A very special service with Vanessa Redgrave, Anita Dobson and Downton Abbey's Penelope Wilton.
St Marylebone Parish Church, Marylebone Road, London, NW1 5LT
Tube: Baker Street Station, Regent's Park Station
Dates: Thursday 3rd December 2015
Actors Vanessa Redgrave, Anita Dobson, Downton Abbey's Penelope Wilton and Ben Aldridge will be among the A-list celebrities at a very special Christmas Carol Service at St Marylebone Parish Church on Thursday 3rd December to raise funds for The Sick Children's Trust. As well as readings by celebrities the service will be accompanied by Irish soprano Margaret Keys and the choir of Boutcher Primary School and a wine and mince pie reception follows the service.
Juliet Stevenson reads at the service attended by VSO patron The Princess Royal.
Central Hall Westminster, Storey's Gate, London, SW1H 9NH
Tube: St James's Park Station, Westminster Station
Dates: Thursday 10th December 2015
Voluntary Service Overseas is hosting a Christmas Carol Concert at Methodist Central Hall in Westminster this December, making it 20 years of annual concerts. Entertainment comes from the City of London Choir, youth chamber choir Inner Voices and guest solo artists such as Grammy Award-winning singer-songwriter Angelique Kidjo, Indian violinist Jyotsna Srikanth, and star of X Factor China Mary-Jess Leaverland. Celebrity readers include Juliet Stevenson and VSO's patron, HRH The Princess Royal, will also be in attendance. VSO returned volunteers will share stories of their work and impact in developing countries. There will also be a pre-concert drinks reception from 6pm in the Library at Methodist Central Hall where guests can mingle with celebrities, VSO returned volunteers and staff.