Let’s face it dear reader – Christmas is probably the only time that us Londoners actually want to listen to a group of people loudly singing outside Charing Cross tube station… and that’s because carolling is basically an integral part of the whole festive shebang – even if you’re not religious. You know, like sloshing down some mulled wine, eating until you’re fit to bursting and arguing with that one family member who might’ve hit the wine slightly too hard on Boxing Day. From choir singers projecting to the rafters in St. Paul’s Cathedral to a concert with rescue dogs from the actual Battersea Dogs & Cats Home, here’s our rundown of the best carol concerts in London this year:
1. Christmas Carols at St. Paul’s Cathedral
Now, if you’re looking to watch a carol concert in London this festive season, then you couldn’t really get more magical than this one. After all, what’s more magical than bloomin’ St. Paul’s Cathedral, hey?!
Taking place on Christmas Eve from 4 to 5pm, this spellbinding service will be a traditional one, re-telling the story of the birth of Christ in words and music. The music in question will be provided by none other than St. Paul’s Cathedral Choir, with readings and lessons provided by the local community. Tickets are free, though you’ll have to keep your eyes peeled on their website to see when others become available.
📍St. Paul’s Cathedral, London, EC4M 8AD.
🚇 Nearest station is St. Paul’s.
📅 December 24, from 4-5pm. Get your tickets here.
Another one of the best carol concerts in London here, this one will give you the chance to experience the magic of Christmas like never before with a captivating musical evening featuring the sensational Piccadilly Singers, alongside leading London orchestral ensemble players.
Set within the beautiful and historic St. James’s Church in Piccadilly, the venue will be aglow with the soft flicker of candlelight – a beautiful setting to listen to a selection of popular Christmas carols and songs that will no doubt transport you to a winter wonderland. Expect plenty of joy, warmth and festive cheer – get a hold of your tickets here.
📍St. James’s Church, 197 Piccadilly, St. James’s, W1J 9LL.
🚇 Nearest stations are Green Park and Piccadilly Circus.
📅 December 19, from 8-9pm. Get your tickets here.
3. Battersea Dogs and Cats Home Christmas Carol Concert
Dogs, cats and Christmas carols? Name a better trio than that for some feel-good, festive cheer! Once again, the wonderful team at the Battersea Dogs & Cats Home are putting on a carol concert in the beautiful surroundings of St Luke’s & Christ Church in Kensington and Chelsea.
Guests will be welcomed by some of the home’s amazing rescue dogs, and you’ll also be able to enjoy popular carols and beautiful music from the Collegium Musicum of London Chamber Choir (CML) as well as West End actor and singer, Nardia Ruth. Add in mulled wine, mince pies and the chance to get your mitts on some Christmas gifts, and you can see why we love this one. Even better, all the money raised will go directly towards the charity itself, meaning that more dogs and cats will receive all the love and expert care that they need.
📍St. Luke’s & Christ Church, Sydney Street, London, SW3 6NH.
🚇 Nearest station is South Kensington.
📅 December 7 & 8, from 7pm. Get your tickets here.
4. All Souls, Langham Place Christmas Carols & Orchestra
‘Oh come all ye faithful’ and have a merry sing-a-long at one of the West End’s most vibrant (and free!) traditional carol services in the beautiful All Souls Church in Langham Place this December.
Taking place at various times throughout the day on December 16, 17, 21, 23 and 24 respectively, this family-friendly service lasts about an hour and will be accompanied by a live choir and an orchestra too, both performing some of the nation’s most loved carols. There’s also free mince pies and even some Christmas punch after the service – winner, winner!
📍All Souls, Langham Place, London, W1B 3DA.
🚇 Nearest stations are Regents Street, Oxford Circus and Great Portland Street.
📅 December 16, 17, 21, 22 & 23 are various different times. Get your tickets here.
5. Christmas at the Royal Albert Hall
Now, when it comes to impressive buildings within the capital, then we’d argue that the Royal Albert Hall is right up there with the best of the best. And for good reason too – after all, it’s the home of the BBC Proms and annual Cirque du Soleil showcase and has seen everyone from Winston Churchill and Muhammad Ali to Shirley Bassey and Elton John take to the stage here.
Basically, it’s a big bloody deal, so it’s no surprise that we’ve added this one to this roundup of the best carol concerts in London for 2023. Each show will feature a presenter and soloist who will bring a selection of incredible carols to life. This year, they’re thrilled to announce British saxophonist Jess Gillam and conductor Greg Beardsell as presenters and Cleopatra Rey and Zara McFarlane as our soloists. This is one you really don’t want to miss out on!
📍Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, South Kensington, London, SW7 2AP.
🚇 Nearest station is South Kensington.
📅 December 16, 17 & 21, 22, 23 & 24 at various different times. Get your tickets here.
Have you braved the climb at Up At The O2 yet? No? Well, there’ll be no better time to ascend the London landmark than on Saturday, December 9, and Sunday, December 10 for a rather special, festive edition of the exhilarating activity. Over the course of two nights, you’ll be able to enjoy the panoramic views of London’s skyline as you enjoy a festive treat and listen to a live Christmas choir (the Vocal Dimension Chorus) perform much loved carols.
At the 52-metre-tall summit, the carol singers – donning Santa hats, of course – will lift your spirits even higher than where you’re standing with renditions of favourites like ‘Jingle Bells’, ‘Merry Christmas’, and even the semi-haunting ‘Carol of the Bells’. With an Aero hot chocolate in hand, you’ll feel super festive. After the carol performance is over, you’ll have time to snap photos, with the stunning backdrop of the city and just take it all in. One to remember certainly!
📍Up at the O2, Peninsula Square, London, SE10 0DX.
🚇 Nearest station is North Greenwich.
📅 December 9 & 10 at various different times. Get your tickets here.
7. Advent and Christmas at Westminster Abbey
Another spectacular building here, Westminster Abbey has been a place of worship since 960 AD, and it has seen the coronation of over forty monarchs – and countless burials and royal weddings too – in its thousand-year-plus history. One of the capital’s four UNESCO World Heritage Sites, it seems fitting that they’re putting on services that feature traditional carols, family-friendly events and festive readings throughout the month of December.
While it’s all pretty magical here, we’d probably opt to go and see ‘Handel’s Messiah’, where the prestigious Choir of Westminster Abbey and leading period-instrument orchestra Academy of Ancient Music herald the start of the Christmas season with a performance of Handel’s most famous oratorio. Taking place on Tuesday December 5 at 7pm, it promises to be one of 2023’s best carol concerts in London and a truly enchanting night out.
📍Westminster Abbey, Dean’s Yard, London, SW1P 3PA.
🚇 Nearest stations are Westminster and St. James’s Park.
📅 December 3, 5, 9, 20, 23, 24 & 25 at various different times. Get your tickets here.
8. Raymond Gubbay Christmas Festival 2023 at the Barbican
It’s almost ‘the most wonderful time of year’, and the landmark Barbican Centre is once again pulling out the stops this year with their ‘Raymond Gubbay Christmas Festival’, which runs from December 16 all the way until New Year’s Day.
There’s a whole host of exciting events happening throughout this period, from a showing of everyone’s favourite Christmas film, Love Actually, with a live orchestra, as well as the music of Game of Thrones, Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and more with a choir. But where they’re really pulling out all the stops is with their three carol concerts, which include performances by none other than the King’s College Choir, as well as with conductor Jonathan Cohen and acclaimed singer Louise Dearman. It’s certainly going to be a magical time of year!
📍Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS.
🚇 Nearest station is Barbican.
📅 December 17 at 2pm and 5.15pm, December 20 at 7.30pm and December 22 at 7.30pm. Get your tickets here.
9. Carols by Candlelight at the Landmark Arts Centre
A festive favourite on the beloved Landmark Art Centre’s yearly calendar, Carols by Candlelight is returning on December 16 and 17 in Teddington’s favourite arts venue.
Words and music will be performed by the Surrey Brass ensemble, with narrator Giles Abbott and local choirs providing added festive cheer. There will be carols to sing-along to throughout, and mince pies and mulled wine to really help you get into the Christmas spirit. Tickets sold out in record time last year so early booking is advised!
📍Landmark Arts Centre, Ferry Road, Teddington, TW11 9NN.
🚇 Nearest station is Teddington.
📅 December 16 at 7.30pm and December 17 at 3.45pm. Get your tickets here.
10. Christmas at St. Martin-in-the-Fields
Ah yes – St Martin-in-the-Fields. An architectural gem set just a stone’s throw away from Charing Cross station and Trafalgar Square, you couldn’t really get more central than here, and as well as gigs and musical performances, they also regularly have art exhibitions on here too. Not to mention that cosy café hidden in the crypt.
They’ve got loads on during the month of December, including multiple carol concerts and even a gingerbread-making workshop! You can find out more via their website here – there’s even a cocktail here too for the winter months, and you know how much we love them…
📍St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square London, WC2N 4JJ.
🚇 Nearest station is Charing Cross.
📅 Various dates throughout December. Get your tickets here.
Brought to you by the famous ‘City Music Promotions’, experience a truly extraordinary musical evening in the enchanting days leading up to Christmas at this candlelight concert, featuring an unmissable performance by the exceptional musicians of The Piccadilly Sinfonietta. Prepare to be captivated as they accompany some of the most talented singers and sopranos in the UK, presenting a delightful programme of beautiful Christmas carols and song arrangements, along with other exceptional works. Get your tickets here.
📍St. Mary le Strand Church, The Strand, London, WC2R 1ES.
🚇 Nearest station is Temple.
📅 December 15 at 8pm. Get your tickets here.
12. Christmas Carols at Embassy Gardens
On Tuesday December 5 from 6.30 to 8pm, award-winning music academy World Heart Beat opens the doors to its beautiful concert hall venue at Embassy Gardens, Nine Elms – close to Vauxhall – for an special evening of Christmas carols. Open to local families and visitors, this festive celebration will feature singing and performances from World Heart Beat’s very own line-up of young musical talent, as well as a complimentary drink and a mince pie for all. Good reason for adding it to this list of the best carol concerts in London we say!
Tickets cost just a fiver, with all booking proceeds and a matching donation from Embassy Gardens going directly to the local Nine Elms food bank charity Bags of Taste.
📍Embassy Gardens, 3 Viaduct Gardens, Nine Elms, London, SW11 7AY.
🚇 Nearest station is Nine Elms.
📅 December 5 at 6.30pm. Get your tickets here.
13. Columbia Road Christmas Wednesdays
Everyone’s favourite Christmas event is back – the carols on Columbia Road! Taking place every Wednesday up until Christmas, you’ll get to enjoy some late-night shopping as well as carols chaired by a local vicar who wheels a piano down the street and sets up shop for you to accompany him singing. Expect dancers on top of pianos (!) and people singing from outside their windows – as well as the chance to get loads of bits and bobs for Christmas of course! There’s no tickets required for this one – you just have to show up!
📍Columbia Road, London, E2 7RG.
🚇 Nearest stations are Hoxton and Bethnal Green.
📅 Every Wednesday until Christmas. Carols usually start at 5/6pm. Free!
14. Christmas at Southwark Cathedral
Rounding off this list of the best carol concerts in London is all those set within another pretty mesmerising venue – the mighty Southwark Cathedral, a beautiful Gothic building right by the Thames which has, like Westminster Abbey, been a place of worship for over 1,000 years.
There’s a whole lot on the roster this Christmas, with carol services dedicated to the charities ‘Crisis’ and ‘Marie Curie’ as well as a service dedicated to those who might be missing their loved ones on the winter solstice – the shortest day of the year. If you’d like to find out more about your favourite carols, then don’t miss ‘Deck the Halls’ on December 14, where composer and conductor Andrew Gant will reveal the fascinating musical and social history behind our favourite Christmas carols. You’ll also get some mulled wine and mince pies to boot – winner, winner.
📍Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, London, SE1 9DA.
🚇 Nearest station is London Bridge.
📅 Various dates throughout December. Get your tickets here.
So there you have it – a selection of the best carol concerts in London for you and your loved ones to enjoy this festive season. Best get practising on warming up that voice then!