10 Christmas Carols Not To Miss in London This December


 

There’s something magical about getting together to sing at some of London’s most iconic venues – Trafalgar Square, the Royal Albert Hall and St Paul’s Cathedral, to name a few. While the indoors provide a warm and cozy feeling, the outdoors can also be fun and emotive as the music propagates without limits. We can agree that singing beautifully, both indoors or outdoors, can be a delightful winter activity.

If you enjoy singing along to popular Christmas carols, why not join a classical music recital with a seasonal twist, or be entertained by star performers at festive concerts this winter? Stretching your voice up and down at some of the capital’s most iconic venues has never been so charming.

I’ve compiled a list of locations, events and prices so you can organise a couple of fun hours singing along with friendly strangers. Please note that this list of venues is arranged by popularity and that some of these require booking in advance, so it’s best to not leave things for the last minute.

Without further ado, let’s check the best Christmas carols across the British capital: From stunning historic locations to modern surroundings, here are London’s best outdoor and indoor carols happening this winter.

 

1. Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall

Royal Albert Hall – Image sourced from their website

Royal Albert Hall, the stunning venue commissioned by Prince Albert, has been entertaining audiences since 1871. This building was a key element in the sanitation of the badly regarded Knightsbridge area, which is now home to some of London’s most expensive homes and shops. The Royal Albert Hall is nowadays famous for its summer Proms and also for hosting atypical events such as a tennis match and even a marathon.

However, London’s fanciest concert hall really comes into its own at Christmas. Some of the highlighted events include: Christmas Carols with Bloodwise (3 December), Christmas with the Salvation Army (4 December), Christmas with The Royal Choral Society (10 December), London Community Gospel Choir (14 December) and Carols at the Royal Albert Hall (21-24 December).

When: Several dates
Where: Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP (Google)
Nearest Tube: South Kensington
Price: From £20

 

2. St Paul’s Cathedral

St Pauls

St Paul’s Cathedral Christmas Carols – Image sourced from their website

Besides visiting St Paul’s Dome, one can do many things inside the City of London’s only cathedral: attending the Thanksgiving service, going to Sunday mass and – my favourite – visiting the tombs of past celebrities such as Christopher Wren’s (the architect of St Paul’s) and Robert Mylne (architect of the former Hunterian Medical School in Piccadilly Circus).

Additionally, St Paul’s Cathedral has a full programme of Advent and Christmas events. It begins with the Advent Carol Service on 30 November and 1 December, with performances by the Cathedral Choir and a candlelit procession marking the start of Advent.

When: 30 November to 24 December
Where: St. Paul’s Churchyard, EC4M 8AD (Google)
Nearest Tube: St Paul’s
Price: Free admission but booking is required

 

3. Trafalgar Square

Christmas Carols in Trafalgar Square

Christmas Carols in Trafalgar Square – Image sourced from their website

Trafalgar Square, best known for its tree and carols, has added a Christmas Market to its festive activities; thus becoming the number one location you need to check this Christmas. From Monday 9 to Tuesday 24 December (except 14 and 22 December), over 40 carol singing groups will gather beneath the famous Christmas tree to entertain visitors of Trafalgar Square. Why not come along? Performances take place from 4-9pm on weekdays, and from 2-7pm at weekends.

Speaking of Trafalgar Square Christmas Tree, I’d like to explain why it has been described as looking ‘like a cucumber’ in the past. Due to a tradition dating back to 1947, Norway gifts a tree to London every year since then. This is to thank British support to the country during World War II. Lights on it are hung vertically, as is the Norwegian tradition.

When: 9-24 December
Where: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 5DN (Google)
Nearest Tube: Charing Cross
Price: Free

 

4. St Martin-in-the-Fields

St Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas Carols

St Martin-in-the-Fields Christmas Carols – Image sourced from their website

Towering over Trafalgar Square, St Martin-in-the-Fields has a packed Christmas programme, open to all. Some of the highlighted events include: Handel Messiah by Candlelight (28 November), A Christmas Celebration (4 December), Missing People carol service (9 December), The Joys of Christmas (23 December) and New Year’s Day Extravaganza by Candlelight (1 January).

The church is known for its regular lunchtime and evening concerts and support to homeless and vulnerably housed people. In fact, St Martin-in-the-Fields has raised money for vulnerable people in its annual Christmas Appeal since 1920. You can be sure that your money will go to good causes.

When: 28 November to 1 January
Where: Trafalgar Square, WC2N 4JJ (Google)
Nearest Tube: Charing Cross
Price: Several prices

 

5. Barbican Christmas Carol Singalong

Barbican Christmas Carols

Barbican Christmas Carols – Image sourced from their website

The Barbican complex, a Brutalist council estate and cultural centre, has become a pilgrimage spot for architects. This built utopia of the late 70’s is up and running but what not many people know is that the cultural program during winter is also impressive beyond its beautiful concrete walls.

For something a little less traditional then, head to the Barbican for a Christmas Carol Singalong, just three days before Christmas. Conductor Jonathan Cohen leads the audience in renditions of Jingle Bells, Frosty the Snowman, Away in a Manger, Good King Wenceslas and The Twelve Days of Christmas. If you love singing and architecture, this will feel like heaven.

When: 22 December
Where: Barbican Centre, Silk Street, EC2Y 8DS (Google)
Nearest Tube: Barbican
Price: From £18.50

 

6. St Paul’s Church Covent Garden

St Paul's Covent Garden

St Paul’s Covent Garden – Image sourced from their website

St Paul’s Covent Garden, a church by Inigo Jones, is best known as ‘the actor’s church’. Completed in 1633, St Paul’s has had a connection with the theatre as early as 1663 with the establishment of the Theatre Royal (Drury Lane), and further assured in 1723 with the opening of Covent Garden Theatre (now the Royal Opera House).

It should be no surprise that St Paul’s kicks off its festive season with A West End Christmas, bringing together cast members from West End musicals to raise money for the Make A Difference Trust. Following this, a selection of carol concerts and Christmas celebrations unfold throughout December (free and paid).

When: Several dates
Where: Bedford St, WC2E 9ED (Google)
Nearest Tube: Covent Garden
Price: Free and paid

 

7. St James’s Piccadilly

St James's Piccadilly

St James’s Piccadilly – Image sourced from their website

St James’s Piccadilly, a delightful brick church by Christopher Wren, is famous for its concerts. Big names of the music industry such as as R.E.M. and Laura Marling have performed here and the variety of genres played assures to cater to all tastes.

A Blue Christmas service takes places at St James’s Piccadilly on 8 December, aimed at anyone who finds Christmas a bit overwhelming. Shoppers are invited to take a break from retail on 18 December at a special carols for shoppers service, and there’s an early evening carol service on Christmas Eve.

When: Several dates
Where: 197 Piccadilly, W1J 9LL (Google)
Nearest Tube: Piccadilly Circus
Price: From £20

 

8. Westminster Abbey

Westminster Abbey Christmas

Westminster Abbey Christmas – Image sourced from their website

Westminster Abbey, no longer an abbey or a cathedral since 1560, is where all coronations of English and British monarchs take place. In addition, there have been 16 royal weddings here since 1100 and it’s the burial site of more than 3,300 people. However, the most wonderful time of the year has to be around Christmas, when the abbey begins its significant festive services.

The main Westminster Abbey Christmas concert takes place on 12 December, and is a traditional affair with festive choral works performed by the Choir of Westminster Abbey, interspersed with seasonal readings and traditional carols for everyone to join in with.

When: 12-24 December
Where: 20 Deans Yd, SW1P 3PA (Google)
Nearest Tube: Westminster
Price: From £15

 

9. Old Royal Naval College

Old Royal Naval College Christmas Carol

Old Royal Naval College Christmas Carol – Image sourced from Twitter

The Old Royal Naval College is another building by Christopher Wren and hence, wonderful things happen inside. The spectacular chapel of the Old Royal Naval College is the setting for Greenwich & Bexley Community Hospice’s Carol Concert. Begin with a festive drink and a mince pie in the Queen Mary Undercroft before heading to the chapel for carols.

In addition, you can visit the chapel with a tour and learn more about its interesting history and interior design, including the expertly crafted plasterwork and mouldings, black and white marble flooring, 17th century altarpiece and organ.

When: 6 December
Where: King William Walk, SE10 9NN (Google)
NEAREST TRAIN STATION: CUTTY SARK FOR MARITIME GREENWICH DLR STATION
Price: Free (donations welcome)

 

10. Southwark Cathedral

Southwark Cathedral Carols

Southwark Cathedral Carols – Image sourced from Twitter

Last but not least, Southwark Cathedral is taken over by Marie Curie’s Carols in the City concert, with a candlelit evening of music and readings. That’s the first in a series of carol services at the Cathedral, both fundraising concerts for various charities, and performances by the Cathedral’s own choir.

When: 4-23 December
Where: London Bridge, SE1 9DA (Google)
Nearest Tube: South Kensington
Price: From £20

I hope you enjoyed this list and are able to visit some of these wonderful Christmas ice rinks across London. Make sure you check other Christmas plans, shows and activities in London: