Amid the onslaught of commercialised Christmas messages, from the John Lewis ad to haute couture Christmas trees, it’s sometimes difficult to recall exactly why we’re all doing this in the first place. While it may come as a surprise to discover that the origins of Christmas aren’t in rampant consumerism, you can at least refresh your memory as to the real meaning (the clue’s in the name), by heading to one of London’s many magical carol services.
Date: Sunday 17th December
It doesn’t get more trad than the Tower of London, one of the oldest and most iconic buildings in London. The annual Street Child charity carols are a great chance to both see a fantastic venue, but also to help a charity doing incredibly important work around the globe. Street Child aims to support the 121 million school-aged children who are currently out of education. Working in remote, often war-torn, regions across the globe, they acknowledge that the best route out of poverty is education and their projects focus on education, child protection and livelihood support to help address the social, economic and structural issues that underpin today’s education crisis.
The choir of the Chapel Royal will bring timeless Christmas carols in what will be an evening of inspirational readings from special guests, accompanied by incredible music and all followed by mulled wine and, of course, mince pies.
Where: The Tower Of London, London, EC3N 4AB, United Kingdom
Nearest station: Tower Hill (0.2 miles)
Date: Saturday 7th & Sunday 8th December
Chester Square, one of Belgravia’s finest squares, a stone’s throw from Victoria Station or shopping on Elizabeth Street, plays host to one of London’s best carol services. A combo of a powerful address, an impressive organ and all the classics make this a traditional (and free) service not to miss.
Date: Tuesday 10th December
Great Ormond Street Hospital (GOSH) has been making sick kids better for over a century; it really is one of the best causes in the capital and you can support their work, and enjoy a top-notch carol service to-boot, by attending their carol concert.
Held at St Paul’s Church, Knightsbridge, join with over 750 people to enjoy beautiful music, popular carols and professional performances along with celebrity turns. Along with the concert, there’s a champagne and canapé reception afterwards nearby at The Berkeley Hotel, with all proceeds going to Great Ormond Street Hospital.
Date: Saturday 14th December
Apparently described by no less than The Guardian as a ‘carol concert with bells on’ (surely any concert with Carol of the Bells would qualify?) the City of London Choir is back at St John’s Smith Square with classic carols, old and new favourites and, it would appear, a harp. They’re also big into audience participation, so if that’s your bag then you won’t want to miss carols at this charming Westminster church.
Date: Thursday 12th, Sunday 15th, Tuesday 17th and Sunday 22nd December
If you work in the city, why not get your Christmas carols fix during your lunch break? St Helen’s, Bishopsgate, are holding a series of carol concerts, with some falling on weekday lunchtimes, which is ideal for city workers.
The magical Church, a piece of the ancient juxtaposed with the modern (it’s surrounded by the glass towers that make up London’s financial centre) will be honouring the birth of Christ with a mix of biblical truths, fabulous music and mince pies with mulled wine. All in enough time to escape and return to the office no questions asked!
Date: Monday 9th December
Breast Cancer Now are holding their carol concert at St Paul’s in Knightsbridge and, for good measure, will be throwing Fortnum & Mason mince pies into the bargain. Enjoy mulled wine, roasted chestnuts and, of course, an uplifting carol service.
Date: Tuesday 10th December
In aid of Cancer Research, St Pauls will be putting on a star-studded carol concert. Hosted in one of the world’s most recognisable buildings, St Paul’s is the quintessential church building and makes for a truly memorable Christmas carol concert experience. The event will include readings by some of the country’s most beloved actors (including Emily Watson and Dominic West) and performances from musicians and singers as well as, of course, St Paul’s Cathedral Choir.
Date: Tuesday 24th December
Like Last Night Of The Proms but without the EU flags. And Rule Brittania. Actually, nothing like LNOTP but nevertheless carols at The Royal Albert Hall promises to be spine-tinglingly rousing. Sing along to all the faves, ancient and modern accompanied by the Royal Choral Society, National Youth Choir of Great Britain, Royal Philharmonic Orchestra and conductor Richard Cooke.