Christmas Church Services and Carol Concerts

Published on: 06/12/21

You’ve done all the shopping, pre-cooked and frozen half the Christmas dinner, and all the presents are neatly wrapped, labelled and sitting under a perfectly-decorated tree that would make Kirsty Allsopp green with envy. Who are we kidding? We’re trying to find out if you can order the latest craze on Amazon! But amidst all the chaos and stress, it could be time to take a breather and connect with the true spirit of Christmas.

Whatever your connection to and belief in the Christmas story, it embodies important values that enrich our lives to this day: fellowship, compassion, peace and hope. It’s the perfect time to visit one of the stunning churches and cathedrals we’re lucky to have across our land, beautifully decorated, and ablaze with candles. Raise your voice to the rafters at a joyous carol service, or find peace in quiet contemplation, churches warmly welcome people of all faiths, or none.

We’ve selected a few experiences below to inspire you, whether a midnight mass or a walk among the towering trees of a natural ‘forest cathedral’ is your thing, your bound to find a little piece of “heaven”.

Lincoln Cathedral

Lincoln Cathedral is one of the UK’s top architectural treasures. The cathedral hosts Christmas concerts and various other fun activities during December. With an afternoon and evening performance in the stunning Cathedral Chapter House, their classic carol concert will feature the Lincoln Cathedral Choristers and harpist Thea Maund. There is also the very popular Carols by Candlelight service, hosted by the Friends of Lincoln Cathedral.

Eagerly anticipated after a two year break is the return of their annual big screen broadcast of Christmas classic Raymond Briggs’ ‘The Snowman’, accompanied by a live orchestra and soloists from Lincoln Cathedral Choir. Shown on a big screen in the knave, specially lit to create a magical atmosphere, this heart-warming story will make the most of the incredible acoustics of the Cathedra, for an unforgettable experience for adults and children alike.

Gloucester Cathedral

If you want a little magic during Christmas, Gloucester Cathedral was used in the Harry Potter movies. During the festive season, you can visit a multitude of carol services and classical concerts at the iconic venue.

The afternoon Christmas Coffee Concert will feature Gloucester Cathedral girl and boy choristers plus clarinettist Emma Johnson. Gloucester Choral Society accompanied by the Corelli Orchestra will then fill the rafters with music, performing Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, conducted by Adrian Partington. From the uplifting opening movement, enjoy a masterclass of sweet chorales and beautiful arias from our distinguished soloists.

Carols for All is Gloucester’s light-hearted Christmas celebration, packed with carols old and new, and plenty of opportunities for you to sing your favourites too. Held on 27th December, perfect for relaxing with the family after the bustle of Christmas Day, it’s a jolly afternoon in which Christmas jumpers and headgear are wholeheartedly encouraged. A free event, it’s also for good causes, with donations welcomed in support of the Gloucester Choral Society and Gloucestershire Action for Refugees and Asylum Seekers.

Blue Christmas - Christmas in Difficult Times- St Paul’s and others

Christmas is the epitome of happy families coming together and of bright jollity. This year, amongst all the losses and restrictions of the Covid pandemic, the expectations being put upon Christmas seem greater than ever, filling many with a sense of dread.

The prospect of Christmas can highlight the anguish of the losses and worries of the past two years, so St Paul’s Cathedral, one of the country’s architectural treasures, is leading ‘Blue Christmas’, a specially curated service to offer comfort and support in difficult times.

Churches participating in Blue Christmas include St Paul’s, St James’s, Piccadilly, and St Giles’, Cripplegate. Services will be filmed, live-streamed, and available to watch later. St Paul's is also hosting its annual series of carols, services and recitals, where visitors can soak up the incredible acoustics of Sir Christopher Wren’s masterpiece during Christmas in London.

Mindful that concerns mean not everyone can get together this Christmas, lots of charities and churches are working in partnership to stream services and concerts to offer something for everyone, including Marie Curie, The Alzheimer’s Society, Supporting Wounded Veterans, and Childline. Stay safe, join in and sing along from home, supporting a good cause at the same time.

Secular Christmas at The Crossing, Granary Square, London

Get ready to sing along as The School of Life presents their secular Annual Alternative Christmas Carol Concert, an evening of mulled wine, stories, great music and good company. One of Britain’s best-loved novelists, Jeanette Winterson, will share Christmas stories to take you away from the craziness of all that shopping and spending.

Expect peace and goodwill, mystery, and a little bit of magic, as Jeanette slows down time and transports you into the real spirit of the season. Music will be provided by the much-in-demand Lips choir, whose collaborators include artists as diverse as Goldfrapp and Leona Lewis, leading everyone in beautiful and rousing secular Christmas songs. No singing ability is required, but leaving with a dose of festive cheer is mandatory!

Christmas Carols at Peak Cavern, Castleton, Derbyshire

Celebrating Christmas doesn’t have to be at one of the grand cathedrals, it’s a time when all local churches will be offering a warm welcome to everyone. For a more natural, setting, it’s hard to imagine a more atmospheric and impressive venue than Peak Cavern, in the heart of the Peak District. With carol services held throughout December, on arrival you are greeted with mulled wine and mince pies.

Then enjoy an evening of enthusiastic singing to Christmas favourites, including traditional carols and modern songs, accompanied by famous Peak District colliery bands, including Castleton, Hathersage, Dronfield, Cressbrook, Rockingham and Fairfield (Buxton). While organisers advise warm clothes as it will be cold in the cavern, the warm mixture of humour and energy makes this the perfect festive fun in the run up to Christmas!

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