Christmas carol concerts: London sing-alongs to book in 2018
Culture Whisper select the best Christmas carol concerts London has on offer, from majestic performances in stunning settings to intimate local gatherings in churches near you.
Whether you’re an aspiring chorister or someone who rarely warbles outside the shower, there’s no better place than London to welcome the season with song. The capital offers an enormous array of carol services throughout December – here’s our pick of the best.
BREATHTAKING: A Service of Lessons and Carols
Does it get more magical than Westminster Abbey at Christmas? Choirs, cloisters and poets' ghosts make for a breathtaking backdrop to the ever-popular Christmas carol services. The free tickets for this enchanting evening are always snapped up in flash so set a reminder for Tuesday 13 and Thursday 15 November when tickets will be released in batches at 9:30am and 2:30pm
When: 24 December 2018, 4:00pm
Where: Westminster Abbey
ON A GRAND SCALE: Carols by Candlelight
The Royal Albert Hall's extensive and varied Christmas programme culminates in two carol concerts in spectacular surroundings on the 23 and 24 December. Attraction will include the Royal Choral Society, the National Youth Choir of Great Britain, the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the fanfare team of Her Majesty’s Coldstream Guards, with compère Greg Beardsell to lead the crowd through mass sing-alongs.
When: Various dates from 4 December 2018
Where: Royal Albert Hall
Cost: Prices vary
FAMILY FESTIVITIES: Festive Family Carols by Candlelight
If you’d like to take your kids a-carolling, this hour-long service at St Martin-in-the-Fields is perfect for little children with short attention spans. St Martin’s Voices, a vocal ensemble made up of choral scholars past and present, will sing a whole host of Christmas classics inviting everyone to join in, as well as entertaining the crowd. This vibrant church has hosted classical concerts for over 250 years and this special concert will be lit by candles.
When: 23 December 2018, 4:00pm
Where: St Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square
Cost: £7 - £18
RIVERSIDE CATHEDRAL: Christmas Carol Concert
This charming candlelit carol concert in atmospheric Southwark Cathedral is in support of Feed The Minds, a small charity supporting communities across Africa and Asia through education projects. This family concert includes many sing-alongs alongside classic carols from Quorum Chamber Choir. The last three years were completely sold out. This year, book now to avoid disappointment.
When: 11 December 2018, 7:00pm
Where: Southwark Cathedral
Cost: £11.10 - £34.51
GOOD CAUSE: The Lullaby Trust's carols by candlelight
Listen to the choir of Eaton Square School, with more musicians to be announced before the event. Join in for old favourites in between festive readings and enjoy visiting St James' Church Clerkenwell for the Lullaby Trust's Carols by Candlelight. Readers will include TV historian and Lullaby Trust Ambassador Dan Jones, comedy writer Adam Kay and Call the Midwife star Helen George. Sit bathed in candlelight under the beautiful modern chandelier, made by Tom Dixon for Clerkenwell Design Week as you listen to the service. Proceeds from this concert go to bereavement support and research relating to SIDS (sudden infant death syndrome).
When: 4 December 2018, 6:45pm
Where: St James' Church, Clerkenwell, Clerkenwell Close, Clerkenwell, London EC1R 0EA
Cost: £10 - £20
THE WAY TO WESTMINSTER: Carol Concert
Westminster Cathedral is a simply stunning building, oft-overlooked in Victoria. White stone and red brickwork make up its patterned neo-Byzantine exterior. The interior is massive and majestic and the perfect setting for a carol service of large proportions. This year, go along to the Westminster Cathedral Choir's Christmas Celebration, with currently undisclosed celebrity guest readers and traditional music.
When: 19 and 20 December 2018
Where: Westminster Cathedral
DOG LOVERS: Battersea Dogs and Cats Home Christmas Carol Concert
Head to St Luke's church for the Battersea Dogs' and Cat's Home Christmas Carol Concert. With a 'doggy guard of honour' made up of residents of the charity, you can't take your own pets.. but with these canine ambassadors joining in with the chorus, you don't need to. A child friendly concert featuring all the favourites. All together, now: A-dog in a manger, no crib for a bed.
When: 7 December 2018, 7:00pm
Where: St Luke's Church, Sydney Street, Chelsea, London SW3 6NH
OXFORD STREET CASUALTIES: Carols for Shoppers
St James's Piccadilly has yet to announce their December programme, but it's reliably packed with great events. Its central position by Jermyn Street makes it particularly great for a stop in and a rest from the rages of present-panic, and this is where its yearly 'carols for shoppers' comes in. It shouldn't be the only service you do this year, but it will be fun, bustling, and rustling with shopping bags. When you're inside, look up at its stunning gallery, a Christopher Wren design.Through the clear glass windows you can see the tops of double-deckers sailing by – it's a very London church.
When: 30 November onwards
Where: St James's Piccadilly, 197 Piccadilly, W1J 9LL
KIDS FOR KIDS: Candlelit Christmas Concert
Celebrities join a brass band and school choir to create a lovely loud charity carol concert in Belgravia. St Peter's is a beautiful classical style church with an airy, spacious interior – a good thing, as it's bound to be full to the brim with carollers. The event is run by Kids for Kids, the charity aiding children in Darfur, Western Sudan, where conflict and poverty have impacted thousands of families. Eamonn Holmes is patron of the charity and will be there to sing along, as will Timothy West and Lord Cope, with a trumpet fanfare courtesy of Thames Fanfare Brass. Of course, there's mulled wine and mince pies afterwards.
When: 29 November 2018, 7:00pm
Where: St Peter’s Eaton Square, London, SW1W 9AL
FURTHER AFIELD: Royal Holloway Lessons and Carols Service
This extraordinary gilded chapel at Royal Holloway, part of the University of London, is a magical setting for a traditional lessons and carol service. But it's very popular and you'll absolutely need to pre-book. Tickets are released on Thursday 1 November at 9am and you may book up to a maximum of four. Tickets will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.
When: 8 December 2018, 6:00pm
Where: Royal Holloway, University of London, Egham, TW20 0EX
…AND IF YOU ONLY DO ONE: Advent Season at St Paul’s Cathedral
St Paul’s Cathedral is at its most magical during the festive season. Its Christmas schedule is full of concerts and events, culminating in the cathedral’s world-famous carol services on the 23 and 24 December. There’s a great atmosphere on both afternoons, as keen carollers queue around the building, warming up their vocal chords with flasks of tea while mince-pie sellers make their way up and down the line. Doors open one hour before the start – get there as early as you can. If you don’t make it in, fear not – the whole service is beamed live on a screen in Paternoster Square next to the cathedral.
When: 23 & 24 December 2018, 4:00pm
Where: St Paul's Cathedral, London EC4M 8AD
Cost: Free and not ticketed, doors open 45 minutes before services begin