From sing-along carol concerts to the return of a critically-acclaimed ballet, here’s what to catch at the Royal Albert Hall this Christmas.
The showstopper: Birmingham Royal Ballet's The Nutcracker
Following hugely successful runs in 2017 and 2018, Birmingham Royal Ballet returns to the Royal Albert Hall with its charming production of the Christmas classic, The Nutcracker. It’s a visually stunning, accessible production which focuses on making the narrative absolutely clear to the youngest members of the audience. Specifically created for the Royal Albert Hall, the production features gorgeous period costumes and impressive projections by Tony Award-winning 59 Productions. This year, Tchaikovsky’s enchanting score is being brought to life by the Royal Ballet Sinfonia
WHEN: 28 – 31 December
TICKETS: £31 – £95
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Festive favourites: Christmas sing-along concerts
On Friday 6 December, you can Spice Up Your Life at Emma Bunton’s Christmas Party. Don’t expect golden oldies, though, Bunton is performing her own material from her latest album My Happy Place, plus everyone’s favourite Christmas songs.
The festive cheer continues Saturday 14 December when the London Community Gospel Choir return to the Royal Albert Hall with a brand-new show featuring gospel classics – 'Joy to the World' and 'Oh Holy Night' among them. Look out for special guests on the night.
Then on Monday 16 December, Trevor Nelson’s Soul Christmas gives the venue’s Christmas programme an RnB twist. The award-winning BBC Radio 2 and Radio 1Xtra DJ promises a ‘sophisticated orchestrated live soul show’ in which a host of guest vocalists will perform re-imagined versions of classic tracks, backed by the BBC Concert Orchestra.
London Community Gospel Choir
Next, let the Royal Albert Hall transport you on a journey through some of Hollywood’s best-loved festive scores. On Tuesday 17 December, A Hollywood Christmas with Mark Kermode sees the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra perform film scores from much-loved classics including It’s a Wonderful Life (1946), Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone™ (2001), Polar Express (2004) and more.
Finally, the festive programme culminates in a first for the Royal Albert Hall: a Christmas Variety Show, held on Friday 20 December. Oscar-winning Hollywood composer Michael Giacchino is leading the night, which features guest performances from a yet-to-be-revealed celebrity line-up. Expect festive tunes from popular TV shows and movies, plus musical cameos from VIP guests.
Family entertainment to impress wide-eyed little ones
Keep your eyes peeled: Father Christmas is coming to the Royal Albert Hall (5 – 22 December). In this immersive experience, families will enjoy an exclusive tour around the 19th-century Hall and have the chance to interact with a range of North Pole characters along the way. Kids will learn about Christmas, the characters, the venue – and even pick up some exciting secrets from the elves – before meeting the big man himself. This Santa's grotto experience includes a mix of storytelling, puppetry and live music, and lasts an hour. Plus, children not only get to meet Father Christmas one-to-one, they get to make their very own stuffed toy to take home.
Those with a penchant for the supernatural, meanwhile, won’t want to miss a one-off performance of ET the Extra-Terrestrial in Concert (8 December). Director Steven Spielberg’s heartwarming masterpiece about 10-year-old Elliott and his alien friend is being projected in high definition on the big screen, while John Williams’ Academy Award®-winning score is being performed live by a full symphony orchestra.
TICKETS: £39.24 for Father Christmas / £40.50+ for ET the Extra-Terrestrial
Choral concerts steeped in tradition
The annual production of Handel’s Messiah returns to the Royal Albert Hall on Wednesday 18 December, with performances at 2:30pm and 7:30pm. Christmas concerts in London rarely carry as much history: the sacred oratorio has featured on the venue’s Christmas programme since it first opened its doors in 1871. The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and the Philharmonia Chorus are joined by special guest vocalists Elgan Llŷr Thomas, Katie Bray, Natalya Romaniw and William Thomas. Tickets for Handel's Messiah are £20+.
Sing along to festive classics at Carols at the Hall, a magnificent carol concert running at multiple times from 21 – 24 December. The concert features all the traditional carols you know and love, reinvigorated with modern arrangements and brought to life by world class musicians. There are two carol concerts on Saturday 21 December – 2:30pm and 7:30pm – and Culture Whisper Gold members can enjoy a free pair of tickets to the 2:30pm concert (doors open at 1:45pm).
|What||The Royal Albert Hall: Christmas season highlights|
|Where||The Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP | MAP|
|Nearest tube||South Kensington (underground)|
05 Dec 19 – 31 Dec 19, Performance dates and times vary depending on event
|Website||Click here for more information and to book|