Things To Do


The Best Carols & Christmas Concerts in London This Year

It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…

…and sound like it too, so we’ve hand-picked the best places to sing carols, listen to some Christmassy music or watch a festive flick with a live soundtrack across the capital:

Carols at St Martin-in-the-Fields

St Martin in the Fields carols

With a grandiose, candlelit setting just off Trafalgar Square, St. Martin-in-the-Fields is an impressive arena at any time of year. But at this particular time of year, they’re inviting you to join in with some of the classics (Hark the Herald Angels Sing, O Come all ye Faithful) and serenading you with the likes of Away In A Manger.

Details: 1st December, 7pm St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ £9-26

Carols on Columbia Road


Every Wednesday in the run up to Christmas, Columbia Road‘s traders keep their doors open late for a little mulled wine-fuelled shopping. And to ensure the whole street is brimming with festive cheer, you’ll find singers (accompanied this year by a brass quintet) holding an open air carolling sesh.

Details: 1st, 8th, 15th & 22nd December, 5-9pm | Outside The Royal Oak, 73 Columbia Road, London E2 7RGFree

Kids for Kids Candlelit Concert

The charity Kids for Kids is bringing back its candlelit carol concert after a year’s hiatus, in aid of children in Darfur who face starvation. Thames Fanfare Brass will be providing extra pizzazz to the angelic trumpety bits, and you’ll spot a few famous faces in the audience this year.

Details: 2nd December, 7-8.30pm St Peter’s Eaton Square, 119 Eaton Square, London, SW1W 9AL | £17.50-35

Christmas at Southwark Cathedral

There’s plenty of carolling at Southwark Cathedral this month, including free services collecting donations to help the homeless and in aid of Mercy Ships; an evening of angelic-themed music sung by the Merbecke Choir; the traditional Southwark Cathedral concert with mince pies and mulled wine; and a casual lunchtime singalong with Christmas songs besides just carols.

Details: 2nd, 4th, 11th & 17th December Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, SE1 9DA | Free – £15

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Carols

All the usual carols, mulled wine and mince pies you could want, with the key distinction of having a guard of honour formed by some of the canine residents of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

Details: 2nd & 3rd December St Luke’s & Christ Church, Sydney Street, London, SW3 6NH | £22-32

Carol Singing in Trafalgar Square

The towering Norwegian spruce in Trafalgar Square has been an annual gift to London since 1947. And every afternoon this December, there’ll be various community choirs pitching up at its base to spread festive cheer with classic carols.

Details: Throughout December (dates TBC), usually 4-9pm weekdays, 2-7pm weekends Trafalgar Square Free

Christmas at The Royal Albert Hall

Christmas Royal Albert Hall

The RAH is holding far too many Christmassy concerts to list here, but they include a live orchestral play-along with The Muppet Christmas Carol, big band nights, Handel’s Messiah, relaxed singalong carols, performances by the London Community Gospel Choir, festive soul with Trevor Nelson, and The Nutcracker with Birmingham Royal Ballet.

Details: Throughout December Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP ~£12-90

Arty Farty Christmas Party

If you find angelic children’s choirs and candlelight bordering on twee, you’ll find an altogether more louche festive evening going on at Shoreditch Town Hall, where comedy & cabaret stars Le Gateau Chocolat, Lucy McCormick, Bourgeois & Maurice are hosting “an anarchic carol concert meets pub gathering meets Question Time on acid.”

Details: 4th December, 8-9pm Shoreditch Town Hall, 380 Old Street, London EC1V 9LT £20

Carols at The Ned

The Ned Christmas Carols

The cathedral-like interiors of The Ned make for a pretty epic setting for Christmas. This year, you can settle in for a festive meal at one of their five restaurants; enjoy a themed afternoon tea; or soak up the dulcet tones of Gareth Malone’s choir while you enjoy drinks and canapés at The Nickel Bar.

Details: 5th, 12th & 19th December, from 7pm The Ned, 27 Poultry, EC2R 8AJ £40 standing, or £100 at the bar inc. drinks & small bites

A Choral Christmas

Chelsea’s Cadogan Hall looks eminently cheery at Christmas time, with lights strung up and a big sparkly tree behind the orchestra. That orchestra is none other than the Royal Philharmonic – and this year they’ll be playing a line-up of carols and classical Christmas music, with a little help from acclaimed baritone Njabulo Madlala.

Details: 7th December, 7.30-9.15pm Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ £15-45

Christmas Carols by Candlelight

Yes, it’s the most famous church in the city. Yes, it’ll have carols by candlelight. Yes, there’ll be mulled wine and mince pies afterwards. But also, it’ll have poetry written by Alexander McCall Smith especially for the evening, performances by the Royal Ballet, and world-class soloists singing alongside the Cathedral choir.

Details: 7th December, 7pm | St. Paul’s Cathedral, London EC4M 8AD £100 & £120 tickets remaining

Grand Christmas Classics

Listen to the Philharmonia Orchestra and Crouch End Festival Chorus give spine-tingling renditions of some of the more haunting carols, before joining in with a couple of classics.

Details: 9th December, 7.30-9.45pm Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX £16.50-50

St. Giles-in-the-Fields

St. Giles-in-the-Fields looks a treat at Christmas, with boughs of festive greenery and ribbons festooning the nave, and candles flickering overhead. And this year their carol service will be punctuated by readings from actors Charles Dance OBE and Simon Callow CBE, as well as performances by the London International Gospel Choir and award-winning soprano Katie Marshall. Plus, it’s all in aid of African Promise, a charity supporting rural primary schools in Kenya.

Details: 9th December, 6.30pm St Giles-in-the-Fields, 60 Saint Giles High Street, London, WC2H 8LG | £25

The Crick Crack Club Christmas Carol Show

The Crick Crack Club are great craic – their Christmas show involves carols accompanied by live sitar; festive tales from two professional storytellers; a Christmas wishing tree and a hearty dose of mulled wine & mince pies.

Details: 9th December, 7.30pm Rich Mix, 35-47 Bethnal Green Road, London, E1 6LA £12.50

The Nightmare Before Christmas

Nothing says Christmas like listening to a live orchestra play “This Is Halloween”. And this film screening with live play-along is a particularly special one, because Danny Elfman – the film’s songwriter and singing voice of Jack Skellington – will actually be performing.

Details: 9th & 10th December, doors at 6pm | Wembley Arena, Arena Square, Engineers Way, London HA9 0AA£46.50-£87.75

NOW That’s What I Call Christmas!

This is literally your favourite 90s Christmas CD incarnate: expect the likes of Fairytale of New York, Last Christmas and All I Want For Christmas Is You, stunningly rendered by Capital Voices and a full orchestra.

Details: 10th December, 7.30-9.45pm Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX £16.50-45

A Roaring 20s Christmas

The BBC Singers take you through a whistle-stop tour of festive jazz standards from the last ’20s, with classics from George Gershwin, Irving Berlin, Fats Waller and Noel Coward interspersed with jazzy takes on traditional carols.

Details: 10th December, 7.30-9.30pm Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | £12-25

Christmas Carol Singalong

If you’re nervous about anyone catching wind of your bung notes, this Christmas singalong is a safe bet – you’ll be trilling away in an audience of 2,000, alongside the London Concert Orchestra, who’ll be interspersing the traditional carols with Christmas hits and that song from Anastasia about bears.

Details: 11th December, 2.30-4.45pm | Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | £16.50-49.50 – book here
AND: 18th December, 2-4.15pm and 5.30-7.45pm 
Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS £18.50-48.50 – book here

Love Actually in Concert

“True love lasts a lifetime.” This, on the other hand, lasts just over 2 hours – but with a live orchestra playing the soundtrack alongside the film, there are far worse ways to spend them.

Details: 11th December, 1.30pm and 6.30pm Eventim Apollo, 45 Queen Caroline Street, London, W6 9QH From £51.80

Carols by Candlelight

For a Christmas gig with all the trimmings, this concert should fit the bill – it’s performed entirely in 18th century costume in a ‘candlelit-style’ setting. The line-up includes plenty of baroque and classical bangers – Zadok the Priest, Joy to the World, Let the Bright Seraphim, etc. – and is rounded off with some old-school carols, like O Little Town of Bethlehem and Good King Wenceslas.

Details: 11th December, 7.30-9.45pm | Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | £16.50-49.50 – book here
AND: 19th December, 2.30-4.45pm and 7.30-9.45pm | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS £16.50-44.50 – book here
AND: 23rd & 24th December, 3pm & 7.30pm
 | | Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ £27.50-49.50 – book here

Christmas Cracker

The Royal Philharmonic Orchestra loosen things up a bit for their second festive concert, with singalong carols and more modern Christmassy tunes performed by West End singers Emma Hatton and Alex Gaumond.

Details: 11th December, 3pm and 7.30pm Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ £25-55

A Dickensian Christmas

What the Dickens can you expect at this concert? Well, a load of Victorian Christmas carols played by a full brass band and the City of London Choir, interspersed with snippets from A Christmas Carol read by Kevin Whately off the telly.

Details: 12th December, 3pm and 7pm Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ £27.50-49.50

Christmas At The Movies

In what is probably the most efficient way to enjoy all of your favourite festive flicks in one night, the Philharmonia Orchestra are going to be playing through the theme tunes from some of the best, including Home Alone, Miracle on 34th Street, and White Christmas.

Details: 12th December, 3-5pm | Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | £19.50-50

A Baroque Christmas

Mariah Carey’s all very well, but where are the top 40 hits from the 18th century, we hear you ask? Well, they’re here, in the stunningly beautiful gothic surrounds of Strawberry Hill House, with a pre-lash of mulled wine and mince pies.

Details: 12th December, 7pm Strawberry Hill House, 268 Waldegrave Rd, Twickenham TW1 4ST £20

Westminster Abbey Christmas Concert

Westminster Abbey Carols

Join Elizabeth I, Charles Dickens and Sir Isaac Newton for a festive bonanza in an iconic setting. Granted, they won’t be doing much singing, but you and the Westminster Abbey choir will probably make up for it.

Details: 14th December, 7-8.15pm Westminster Abbey, London, SW1P 3PA £15-40

Kansas Smitty’s Big Band Plays The Nutcracker Suite

This event’s a triple threat: 1) It’s taking place in the eternally atmospheric Ronnie Scott’s jazz club. 2) The ‘Nutcracker Suite’ in question is actually the jazz arrangement by the great Duke Ellington, and 3) It’s being played by the barn-storming Kansas Smitty’s big band, with brass for days.

Details: 15th & 16th December, 5.30pm & 8.30pm Ronnie Scott’s, 47 Frith Street, London W1D 4HT £40-55

HNCF Carol Concert

As settings go, this one’s pretty impressive – it’s the royal chapel inside the Tower of London, and is famous for being the final resting place of Anne Boleyn, Catherine Howard and Lady Jane Grey. This year, it’ll set the stage for carolling in aid of the Head and Neck Cancer Foundation, and you can expect mulled wine and mince pies throughout the service, plus the chance to ask a Beefeater any burning questions.

Details: 16th December, 7-9.30pm St Peter ad Vincula Royal Chapel, 35 Tower Hill, London, EC3N 4DR£30

The Actors’ Church

As you’d expect, The Actors’ Church in Covent Garden has no shortage of talent to draw on for their festive concerts. This year you can catch West End stars singing musical theatre songs & carols alongside charity carol services in aid of Sarcoma UK and The Food Chain; a relaxed Christmassy singalonga traditional carol service with mince pies & mulled wine; a charity concert with festive classical music and carols with a brass band; and carols & Dickensian readings with guest performers (who have previously included Dame Maggie Smith and Sir Derek Jacobi).

Details: Throughout December St. Paul’s Church, Bedford Street, London, WC2E 9ED Individually ticketed

The Rat Pack at Christmas

Ok, so it’s not The Rat Pack, but it’s a bloody good tribute act comprising Stephen Triffitt, Mark Adams and George Daniel Long, who’ll be serenading you with Let It Snow, Baby It’s Cold Outside, and a couple of other classics like New York, New York.

Details: 18th December, 2.30pm and 7.30pm Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ £24.50-39.50

Christmas at Union Chapel

Union Chapel Carol Concert

This year Islington’s jaw-dropping Grade I listed church will ring out with the close-harmony vocals of the Puppini Sisters, a victory-rolled trio who have graced the stage at Glasto and collaborated with Michael Bublé; while the following day Eliza Carthy and Jon Boden will take to the stage to revive the folk tradition of Wassail, with some of the oldest songs in English and some magical Christmas tales.

Details: 20th & 21st December, 7pm | Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, Islington, N1 2UN £30-35/£20

Christmas with King’s College Choir

More atmospheric than the telly, less faff than going to Cambridge – this concert brings the world-famous choir from King’s College to the Barbican, where you can join them in singing classic carols with the Crouch End Festival Chorus.

Details: 21st December, 7.30-9.45pm | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS £22.50-52.50

The Snowman

Now a regular festive fixture, the Mozart Symphony Orchestra are ditching their namesake for the day to play a live soundtrack to accompany this screening of The Snowman. Bring tissues.

Details: 21st December, 1.30pm and 4.30pm Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ £16-32

Grand Christmas Classics with Alan Titchmarsh

Hoe, hoe, hoe! Alan Titchmarsh presents this all-rounder, with classic carols interspersed with festive readings and other Christmassy tunes.

Details: 22nd December, 7.30pm | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS £18.50-48.50

Jingle Bell Christmas

Jingle Bell Christmas

If, somehow, you haven’t had total Christmas pop fatigue by the 23rd, the Barbican are staging a Rockettes-style festive extravaganza, with The London Concert Orchestra, Capital Voices and The Jingle Belles dancers taking you from Frank Sinatra to Elton John.

Details: 23rd December, 2-4.15pm and 5.30-7.45pm | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS £18.50-48.50


Main image: Southbank Carol Singalong, credit Richard Haughton

Looking for festive things to do? Check out our guide to Christmas in London 2021

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