It’s starting. Mulled wine, mince pies, the smell of wrapping paper. You can nearly hear the sleigh bells ringing and the credit cards kerchinging. Christmas is nearly here. But if you need a little convincing before you go Full Tinsel, here’s a little roundup of the best carol services across London.
The carol services at Westminster Abbey are (as you’d expect) rather more traditional. They’re also one of the only times of the year that entry to this beautiful building is free. You’ll still need a ticket (they vanish quickly but returns do pop up if you watch like a hawk), and we don’t recommend drinking mulled wine beforehand. This isn’t a sing-along, there will be no Jingle Bell Rock, but Silent Night will never sound better.
Royal Albert Hall
Known for their Carols by Candlelight, the Royal Albert Hall is probably one of the most impressive locations to have a bit of a sing-along and attend a carol service (although really they just dim the lights a bit). They have hymns and readings from Dickens at some events, but at others singing and champagne is encouraged (we’ll be the out of tune ones screeching Away in a Manger from the back row). The varied carol service programme kicks off on December 14th with various dates and times throughout the month. Tickets start at £13.50.
The Corinthia Hotel
If you’re passing The Corinthia Hotel on a weekend in December, do pop in. Their courtyard carol services start on the 6th and continue on the weekends (between 5-7pm) throughout the month. The singing might be outside but they’ve got an open fire (for roasting chestnuts, as well as warming your cockles) and they’re offering a complimentary glass of mulled wine.
It’s going to be hard to miss carols in Trafalgar Square this year. More than 50 choirs and singing groups are taking part (as far as we’re aware, Jedward are not on the bill which is a Christmas miracle that we can all be thankful for). Performances are under that great big Christmas tree between 4-8pm on weekdays and 2-6pm on weekends. The tree has been sent from Norway and it’s part of a tradition that’s been taking place since 1947 so let’s go and do some brilliant singing under it. Thanks, Oslo.
Yep, you can hop from one carol service to another with a trip to St Martins-in-the-Fields over the road from Trafalgar Square. Chain-carols! We heartily approve of decking your bough with that much holly. The carols at St Martin’s start on the 30th and carry on right up to the end of December
Hampton Court Palace
There is no place more beautiful than Hampton Court Palace at Christmas. It’s the kind of place where you just cross your fingers for snow (in which case you’ll need a red cape and a sleigh). With their maze and the ice rink and beautiful grounds, you’re one verse of The Little Drummer Boy away from booking a flight to Lapland. Services start on December 17th and are just £7.50.
They’re selling out quickly. Take a hip flask and some gloves. Got some great carols happening near you? Tell us when and where so we can come and belt out a couple of bars of Good King Wenceslas with you.
Words by Sian Meades