Britain’s best carol services and Christmas concerts

Where to go for festive music this December

The Snowman

Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, December 15-16
Screenings of the beloved animated version of Raymond Briggs’ children’s book. The Hallé Orchestra accompany the screening with a performance of Howard Blake’s memorable score, including, of course, Walking in the Air.

Christmas at Sea

Cutty Sark, December 16
A spectacular concert performed under the hull of the Cutty Sark. Music by Mozart, Verdi, Puccini, and Gilbert & Sullivan will feature, as well as sea shanties and a reading of  Robert Louis Stevenson’s much loved poem Christmas at Seawhich is 150 years old this year. Tickets cost £25, with the price including a mulled cider and mince pie slice.

Messiah by Candlelight

St Martin-in-the-Fields, various dates
Handel’s masterpiece is a must at Christmas time, and a candlelit St Martin-in-the-Fields is the perfect setting to experience it. Performances take place on November 29, December 20, 22 and 29, and there are also a number of other classical concerts and carol services to pick from.

A chorister gets in the Christmas spirit (Getty)

Christmas at the Movies

Royal Festival Hall, December 16
The Philharmonia Orchestra, conducted by Pete Harrison, perform music from popular festive movies, including It’s A Wonderful Life, White Christmas and Die Hard (yes, it’s a Christmas film!)

A Choral Christmas

Birmingham Symphony Hall, December 16, 18 and 19
A family Christmas concert packed with popular festive music, readings and plenty of chances to sing-a-long. The music is provided by the Birmingham Symphony Orchestra, and Alan Titchmarsh (December 18 and 19) and The One Show’s Matt Baker (December 16) are the guest presenters.

Viennese Christmas by Candlelight 

St Giles’ Cathedral, Edinburgh, December 14
Chamber ensemble London Concertante perform a festive programme of classical music in what promises to be an atmospheric setting. Pieces include Strauss’s Die Fledermaus Overture and Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker Suite.

Charlie Brown does jazz at the Royal Albert Hall

Opera North Christmas Concert

Dewsbury Town Hall, December 20
Acclaimed touring company Opera North put on a Christmas concert that will feature a performance of Britten’s Ceremony of Carols, followed by a rousing selection of Christmas music and carols to sing-a-long to. Garry Walker conducts the Orchestra of Opera North and the Chorus of Opera North, Opera North Youth Chorus and Opera North Young Voices.

A Charlie Brown Christmas

Royal Albert Hall, December 14
A Christmas concert with a difference. This one, in the Royal Albert Hall’s Elgar Room, is a screening of the classic Peanuts cartoon followed by a performance by The Jason Frederick Cinematic Trio, who will draw upon the repertoire of Charlie Brown composer, Vince Guaraldi.

British Red Cross Festive Concert

St Paul’s Cathedral, December 20
A charity concert at St Paul’s promises to be a spectacular one with performances from the Kingdom Choir (who performed Stand By Me at the wedding of the Duke and Duchess of Sussex earlier this year) and readings from Jason Isaacs and Joanna Lumley. The concert will also feature the world premiere of a specially composed work by Sir Karl Jenkins.

Enjoy canine carols with the Dogs Trust concert

Christmas Oratorio

St John’s Smith Square, December 22
The Choir of Trinity College Cambridge is one of the world’s leading mixed-voice choirs and after sell-out performances at previous St John’s Smith Square Christmas Festivals, they return to sing Bach’s Christmas Oratorio, Parts 1, 2, 3 and 6. They are joined by the Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment and Stephen Layton conducts.

Dogs Trust Carol Concert

Chelsea Old Church, November 28
A carol concert to raise funds for the Dogs Trust, a charity that raises funds for dogs whose owners are either homeless or in housing crisis. All well behaved dogs are welcome!


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