The Top Christmas Carol Concerts And Services In London This Year

Laura Reynolds
By Laura Reynolds Last edited 21 months ago

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The Top Christmas Carol Concerts And Services In London This Year

Below are the details for 2019. We'll update this page with information for Christmas 2020 when it's announced, so keep checking back.

Christmas carol concerts and services at Westminster Abbey
Christmas carols at Westminster Abbey

Come December, you could easily attend a carol concert or service every day, and still not experience all the Silent Nights and Away In A Mangers that London has to offer. To help with your festive planning, we've put together our pick of carol concerts in the capital, including stunning buildings, carols with a gospel twist — and not forgetting the service where they let actual dogs into the church.

Carol concerts in central London

Christmas carol concerts and services at Westminster Abbey
Westminster Abbey hosts several events in the run-up to Christmas

ST PAUL'S CHURCH COVENT GARDEN: It's no surprise that a venue dubbed 'the actor's church' kicks off its festive season with A West End Christmas, bringing together cast members from West End musicals to raise money for the Make A Difference Trust. Following this, a selection of carol concerts and Christmas celebrations unfold throughout December. 1-19 December

ST JAMES'S PICCADILLY: A Blue Christmas service takes places at St James's Piccadilly on 8 December, aimed at anyone who finds Christmas a bit overwhelming. Shoppers are invited to take a break from retail on 18 December at a special carols for shoppers service, and there's an early evening carol service on Christmas Eve. 8-24 December

TRAFALGAR SQUARE: The Trafalgar Square Christmas tree is officially illuminated in a ceremony on 5 December. After this, a series of carol singing events take place around the tree throughout December, with more than 40 singing groups joining in. Wrap up, and head out to see them in action. 9-24 December (Mondays and Tuesday)

Carol singing concerts beneath the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree
Carol singing takes place beneath the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree

ST MARTIN IN THE FIELDS: The church towering over Trafalgar Square always has a packed Christmas programme, open to all. Of particular interest is the Missing People carol service, which keeps in mind families who are missing someone this Christmas. Share music and words and light candles for those who are missing, and help raise money for the charity's Home for Christmas Appeal. 9 December

WESTMINSTER ABBEY: The main Westminster Abbey Christmas concert takes place on 12 December, and is a traditional affair with festive choral works performed by the Choir of Westminster Abbey, interspersed with seasonal readings and traditional carols for everyone to join in with. Check the website for details of other festive services. 12-24 December

BARBICAN: For something a little less traditional, head to Barbican for a Christmas Carol Singalong, just three days before Christmas. Conductor Jonathan Cohen leads the audience in renditions of Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, Away in a Manger, Good King Wenceslas and The Twelve Days of Christmas. 22 December

Carol concerts in north London

Carols by Candlelight at St James's Church, Clerkenwell
Carols by Candlelight at St James's Church, Clerkenwell

ST JAMES'S CHURCH, CLERKENWELL: Infant bereavement charity The Lullaby Trust has chosen St James's Church in Clerkenwell for its Carols by Candlelight event. Journalist Dan Jones, food writer Giles Coren, sports pundit Mark Watson, and historian Tessa Dunlop are all scheduled to appear, with music from the Eaton Square school choir and BBC Gospel Choir of the Year 2016 finalists, Sing Gospel. 3 December

ST PANCRAS CHURCH: Head to the atmospheric St Pancras Church for blood cancer charity Anthony Nolan's Christmas Carols. The Lockers Park School Chapel Choir sing Christmas carols, and it's a rather special performance, as Lockers Park pupil and singer Rupert received a lifesaving bone marrow transplant through Anthony Nolan in 2016. B Positive Gospel Choir are also on the programme. 4 December

Anthony Nolan's Christmas carol concert at St Pancras Church
Anthony Nolan's Christmas Carols at St Pancras Church

UNION CHAPEL: Church-turned-events-venue Union Chapel hosts a rather unusual Christmas event. The Greenbelt Festival pulls together an evening of celebrities, spoken word, and poetry on a festive theme, culminating in a huge, uplifting mass-eoke session. 4 December

Carol concerts in south London

Southwark Cathedral exterior illuminated with Christmas lights for the Marie Curie Cancer Care Christmas carol concert
Marie Curie holds its carol concert at Southwark Cathedral

OLD ROYAL NAVAL COLLEGE, GREENWICH: The spectacular chapel of the Old Royal Naval College is the setting for Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice's Carol Concert. Begin with a festive drink and mince pie in the Queen Mary Undercroft before heading to the chapel for carols. 6 December

SOUTHWARK CATHEDRAL: Marie Curie's Carols in the City concert takes over Southwark Cathedral for a candlelit evening of music and readings. That's the first in a series of carol services at the Cathedral this year, both fundraising concerts for various charities, and performances by the Cathedral's own choir. Full programme here. 4-23 December

SACRED HEART CHURCH, WIMBLEDON: Choral ensemble Sonoro Music hosts an evening of choral and festive music. Everyone's invited to join in with the likes of O Little Town Of Bethlehem, In The Bleak Midwinter, and Ding Dong Merrily On High. 17 December

Carol concerts in east London

WaterAid hosts its first Christmas carol concert in London this year
WaterAid holds its first Christmas concert

ST PAUL'S CATHEDRAL: As you'd expect, St Paul's Cathedral has a full programme of Advent and Christmas events. It begins with the Advent Carol Service on 30 November and 1 December, with performances by the Cathedral Choir and a candlelit procession marking the start of Advent. Celebrities join in with A Celebration of Christmas on 12 December, and other carol services take place right up until Christmas Eve. 30 November-24 December

CANCER RESEARCH: In addition to its own events (above), St Paul's Cathedral is the venue for Cancer Research UK's fundraising carol concert. Actors including Call The Midwife actress Helen George, Emily Watson OBE and Dominic West give readings, and world-class singers and musicians including the St Paul's Cathedral Choir perform. 10 December

ST MARY ALDERMARY CHURCH: Sanitation charity WaterAid holds its first ever Christmas concert, headlined by the lively Some Voices Choir. Join in with Christmas classics, and try traditional seasonal treats from some of the countries where WaterAid works. 10 December

Carol concerts in west London

Christmas with the Royal Choral Society Concert at the Royal Albert Hall
Christmas with the Royal Choral Society is a longstanding tradition

ST MARYLEBONE PARISH CHURCH: This beautiful church is getting involved with the Church of England's Christmas 2019 campaign, #FollowTheStar, which sees thousands of services taking place in the run-up to Christmas. Full details of the Advent, Christmas and Epiphany schedule are on the St Marylebone Parish Church website, and include charity events for Age UK and Blind Veterans UK, and local school services (not open to the public). 29 November-20 December

ROYAL ALBERT HALL: London's fanciest concert hall really comes into its own at Christmas. Here are some of the highlights of its festive programme:

  • Christmas Carols with Bloodwise has an impressive line-up, including the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Natalie Rushdie, Ruby Turner MBE, Rick Astley and Kerry Ellis. Expect Christmas carols and traditional singalongs.  (3 December)
  • Christmas with the Salvation Army includes performances by the charity's bands and singers, special readings and carol singing. (4 December)
  • BT, which sponsors the Royal Albert Hall's Christmas 2019 season, hosts its own Christmas concert with special guests, Good Morning Britain presenters Richard Arnold and Charlotte Hawkins. Performers include the London Community Gospel Choir and a military band. (9 December)
  • The Royal Choral Society has been performing at the Royal Albert Hall since it first opened in 1871, and has sung at the Hall every Christmas for over a hundred years — and 2019 is no exception.  (10 December)
  • London Community Gospel Choir takes over the Royal Albert Hall for an evening of lively festive tunes, singalongs, special guests, and musical accompaniment from the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra. (14 December)
London Community Gospel Choir's Christmas carol concert at the Royal Albert Hall
London Community Gospel Choir at the Royal Albert Hall

ST PAUL'S, KNIGHTSBRIDGE: This beautiful west London church hosts an evening of performances by its own choir, along with celebrity readings (names TBC), accompanied by champagne and mulled wine. 3 December

ST PETER'S CHURCH, BELGRAVIA: Kids for Kids holds a Magical Candlelit Christmas Concert, with Joanna Lumley hosting proceedings, and Miriam Margoyles and Timothy West also on the star-studded line-up. Add in a trumpet fanfare, school choirs, mince pies and mulled wine, and you've got the full festive experience. 5 December

Dogs in church at the Battersea Dogs and Cats Home Christmas carol service
Image: Battersea Dogs & Cats Home

ST LUKE'S CHURCH, CHELSEA: We shouldn't have favourites, we know, but we do have a soft spot for the Battersea Christmas Carol Concert, not least because they bring actual dogs into the church to form a canine guard of honour. Naturally, money raised goes back into the work Battersea does for dogs and cats, and there's a chance to purchase Battersea gifts at the end of the concert. Really though, we're here for the dogs. 5-13 December

ROYAL BROMPTON CAROLS: It's another west London appearance for Joanna Lumley, this time at a fundraiser for Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospitals Charity. Lumley performs a festive reading, along with carol renditions by the ICOSA Choir. 18 December. (The same charity hosts another carol concert out in Harefield on 12 December, minus Joanna Lumley).

Find other things to do in London at Christmas, including ice skating, Christmas markets and light switch-on ceremonies.

Last Updated 06 January 2020

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