You could attend a carol concert every day in December, and still not experience all the Silent Nights and Away In A Mangers London has to offer. We've put together our pick of carol concerts in the capital, including stunning settings, charity fundraisers — and the service where they welcome dogs into church.
ST LUKE'S CHURCH, CHELSEA: The Royal Brompton Hospital Charity holds its Carols by Candlelight concert, with readings from patients and staff and singing by choir the London Oratory Schola. Money raised this year goes towards the charity's Next Generation Genetics Appeal. 30 November 2022
TRAFALGAR SQUARE: To coincide with the Trafalgar Square Christmas tree lighting ceremony, St Martin in the Fields hosts A Trafalgar Square Christmas, a candlelit evening of music by St Martin’s Voices and Strings (1 December 2022). That's the start of a whole flurry of festive events at the church including choral performances and family carol concerts.
ST PETER'S CHURCH, BELGRAVIA: Charity Kids for Kids holds a Magical Candlelit Christmas Concert, with Valerie Singleton OBE and Karen Jankel, daughter of Paddington Bear author Michael Bond on the line-up. Add in a trumpet fanfare, school choirs, mince pies and mulled wine, and you've got the full yule experience. 1 December 2022 (or online on 15 December 2022)
CADOGAN HALL: Around the corner from Sloane Square, Chelsea's Cadogan Hall has a busy programme of Christmas events running throughout December. Highlights include Childline's Merry Little Christmas Concert, Christmas with Barts Choir, West End Does: Christmas, and Carols by Candlelight. 1-28 December 2022
ANSPACH & HOBDAY: Prefer beer to mulled wine? South London brewery Anspach & Hobday host carols at their Arch House venue in Bermondsey, with a choir put together by musician and food & drink influencer Matt The List, plus a special festive pfeffernüsse stout on tap. The bar's open from 3pm, with carols starting at 7pm. 2 December 2022
BATTERSEA CAROLS: 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 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. Takes place at St Luke's Church, Chelsea. 2 and 9 December 2022
UP AT THE O2: Claiming to be the highest Christmas carol concert in London, Up At The O2 holds a series of special twilight climbs on 3 December. Book yourself onto a climb between 4.15pm and 6.30pm on this day to enjoy a performance on the 52m-high roof by Vocal Dimension Chorus, singing a selection of traditional carols and Christmas hits. A cup of hot chocolate is included, and you can get a close-up look at the new light installation on the roof. 3 December 2022
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 Musical Theatre Christmas, bringing together cast members from West End musicals to raise money for The Actors' Church Benevolent Fund. A selection of other carol concerts and Christmas celebrations take place throughout late November and December too. 4 December 2022
ST PAUL'S, KNIGHTSBRIDGE: This beautiful west London church hosts an evening of performances by its own choir, along with festive readings from as-yet unspecified celebrities, accompanied by champagne and mulled wine. 6 December 2022
ST PAUL'S CATHEDRAL: Sanitation charity WaterAid has bagged St Paul's Cathedral for its Christmas carol concert this year. The Cathedral's own choir performs, along with the City of London Sinfonia Orchestra, and classical singer Carly Paoli. You can also expect readings from Sir Tony Robinson and Angellica Bell, among others. 6 December 2022. Of course, St Paul's has its own programme of Christmas concerts and services, including Advent carol services, and there's a Guide Dogs fundraising concert there too.
ST MARYLEBONE PARISH CHURCH: The Sick Children's Trust charity celebrates its 40th anniversary with a Together at Christmas fundraising concert at St Marylebone Parish Church. Emilia Fox, Tim Downie, The Tootsie Rollers, Classical Reflection, and Christina Johnston are among the celebs on the programme this year, offering a mix of readings and solo and group performances. 7 December 2022
ROYAL ALBERT HALL: As ever, London's fanciest concert hall comes into its own at Christmas. Here are some of the highlights of its festive programme:
- Christmas with the Salvation Army includes performances by the charity's bands and singers, special readings and carol singing. (7 December 2022)
- Christmas with the Royal Choral Society, a group which has been performing at the RAH since 1872. They're accompanied by the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra as they perform traditional carols such as Silent Night, Hark! The Herald Angels Sing and O Come all Ye Faithful. (12 December 2022)
- Carols at the Royal Albert Hall is the final countdown to the big day, with up to three performances a day. Join in with festive favourites at the family-friendly events. (17-24 December 2022)
MACMILLAN CAROL CONCERT: Cancer charity Macmillan takes over St John's Smith Square for one night, hosting a family-friendly event with actor Amanda Abbington giving a reading. Music comes from Ryan Quigley, Northern Lights Symphony Orchestra, Luci Briginshaw and Konya Kanneh-Mason. 8 December 2022
PROVIDENCE ROW: East London homeless charity Providence Row host their carols in the beautiful St. Mary Moorfields Catholic Church in the City. Though free to attend, you're encouraged to make a donation if you can. 13 December 2022
NORDOFF ROBBINS: Roger Daltrey and Pete Townsend from The Who headline a carol concert at St Luke's Church, Chelsea, raising money for music therapy charity Nordoff Robbins. There are also celeb readings. 13 December 2022
MS SOCIETY: St Mary's Church in Marylebone is the place to head for the MS Society's Carols by Candlelight. Expect choral music, festive readings from Kit Harington, Rose Leslie, Scott Mills and Sue Perkins, and a musical performance from soul singer Junior Giscombe. 15 December 2022
WESTMINSTER CATHEDRAL: Over two consecutive nights, Westminster Cathedral presents A Christmas Celebration, one of the highlights of its festive season. The Westminster Cathedral Choir and Orchestra come together for celebratory readings and carols — and there are usually a few celebrity guests too. 20 and 21 December 2022
BARBICAN: Closer to the big day, head to Barbican for Christmas with King's College Choir, which sees the Choir of King's College, Cambridge teaming up with the Crouch End Festival Chorus for a programme of festive classics (21 December 2022). The venue also hosts Carols by Candlelight by the Mozart Festival Orchestra and Chorus (22 December 2022).
WESTMINSTER ABBEY: One of London's most popular services is Westminster Abbey's Service of Lessons and Carols. It's a traditional service, with Christmas carols sung, performances by the choir, and readings. It's free, but you need to book. If you're not lucky enough to get tickets, take a look at the other Advent and Christmas events at the Abbey. 23 and 24 December 2022