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Hattie Lloyd 17/11/23

The Best Carols & Christmas Concerts in London This Year

A cursory wikipedia search reveals that the earliest carols, sung in 4th century Rome, were “austere statements of the theological doctrine of the Incarnation in opposition to Arianism.”

Things have perked up a bit since then.

Come December, London is awash with Christmassy music. And yes, a lot of it is pumped out of Oxford Street pedicabs at 200 decibels. But there’s also dozens of magical Christmas concerts, gigs and carol singalongs across the city, some of which won’t even cost you a penny.

Whether you’re into gospel choirs in an iconic concert hall, rowdy Mariah singalongs, festive screenings with a live soundtrack or candlelit carolling in a Grade II listed church, you’re guaranteed to find something in this list that hits the right note.

Even if you don’t.

Christmas at Southwark Cathedral

There’s plenty of carolling at Southwark Cathedral this December, including charity concerts in aid of the Trussell Trust (1st Dec), Marie Curie (6th Dec), Mercy Ships (7th Dec) and Crisis (9th Dec); a night mingling Handel’s messiah with traditional carols (15th Dec); a cheery community carol singalong (20th Dec); and the big kahuna: the traditional service with lessons and carols sung by the cathedral’s own choir (17th & 19th). And we’ll just leave you with the reminder that Borough Market is just down the road, with mulled wine stalls, The Black Pig’s famous Christmas sandwiches, and plenty of free cheese samples…

Details: 1st – 25th December Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, SE1 9DA | Free – £25

St Martin-in-the-Fields

st martin in the fields carols

With a grandiose, candlelit setting just off Trafalgar Square and its twinkling Norwegian Christmas tree, St. Martin-in-the-Fields is a handily central spot for carol singing in London. There are Christmassy music recitals taking place throughout December with gospel choirs and brass bands, but the headliners are the candlelit carol concerts, happening every Saturday night.

Details: 2nd, 9th, 16th, 19th & 23rd December, 7:30pm St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ £10-35

Christmas Carols at St. Paul’s Cathedral

It doesn’t get more traditional than this: huge, twinkly trees; a professional choir and one of London’s most iconic settings: the carol services at St. Paul’s Cathedral are free and unticketed, so prepare to have your morals tested when trying to get a seat.

Details: 2nd & 3rd (5.30pm), 21st (5pm), 23rd & 24th (4pm – ticketed) December St. Paul’s Cathedral, London EC4M 8AD | Free

Carols at The Ned

carols at the ned

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

Details: 3rd, 10th & 17th December, from 7pm till late The Ned, 27 Poultry, EC2R 8AJ £45 standing, or £150 inc. three-course meal

Christmas at Westminster Abbey

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: 3rd, 5th, 20th, 23rd & 24th December Westminster Abbey, London, SW1P 3PA | Free – £55

The Walmer Castle

This beautiful new pub in Notting Hill is settling in with a little festive carol-singing this December. The Soul Sanctuary gospel choir will gather everyone outside the pub for a singalong, while the staff keep you plied with mulled wine to stay warm. And if you need to thaw out afterwards? There’s a roaring fire inside…

Details: 6th December from 7.30pm 58 Ledbury Road, Notting Hill, W11 2AJ Free

Christmas Concert at Dulwich Picture Gallery

If you fancy listening to some Christmassy music in a different setting, Dulwich Picture Gallery‘s the perfect place to hang. They’ll be welcoming in The Fourth Choir for an evening of classics like Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas as well as lesser-known bangers like Toby Young’s The Night.

Details: 6th December, 7.30-8.40pm Dulwich Picture Gallery, Gallery Road, London SE21 7AD £25

Battersea Dogs & Cats Home Carols

battersea dogs home carols

This annual charity night has all the classic carols, mulled wine and mince pies you could want – but what really sets it apart is the guard of honour formed by the canine residents of Battersea Dogs & Cats Home.

Details: 7th & 8th December St Luke’s & Christ Church, Sydney Street, London, SW3 6NH | £22


karolaoke christmas singalongs

If you’ve been concerned about getting your fix of medieval carolling and Mariah this year, relax. Karolaoke is here to sweep you up in a raucous evening of festive cheer by reinventing and mashing up all kinds of Christmassy music with a live 8-piece band, with projected lyrics so you can sing along.

Details: 7th & 8th December, 8pm | artsdepot, 5 Nether Street, Tally Ho Corner, N12 0GA | £15+

Christmas Actually

We may have reached peak Christmas concert with this variety show curated by Love Actually director Richard Curtis. Settle in for a blend of comedy, poetry, music and more with hosts Sanjeev Bhaskar and Jayde Adams, and guests Flo & Joan and Miriam-Teak Lee.

Details: 7th-11th December Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, London SE1 8XX £25.50-124.50

Xmas Massaoke

massaoke christmas singalongs

What is massaoke, you ask? Or, at least, we think you did, because we can’t hear you over the joyous crowds simultaneously singing along to some of the best Christmas songs ever written, played live on stage alongside projections of the lyrics and full-on pyrotechnics, creating one of the most euphoric mass-bonding experiences of your life. Maybe you just said ‘stop knocking my beer’.

Details: 8th, 9th, 14th & 21st December | Camden, Clapham, Wembley & Croydon | £15

Basement Orchestra

Sure, Big Penny Social might not technically have a basement. What it does have is 82 taps pouring tank-fresh beers; a stellar Sunday roast; long bierkeller-style tables perfect for big groups… and for one night only, the Basement Orchestra. They’ll be taking over the whole warehouse-style taproom for a raucous Christmas gig, in which their 50-strong flock of musicians and singers will play through jazzy twists on The Nutcracker, pop anthems and singalong carols.

Details: 10th December, 7-8.45pm Big Penny Social, 1 Priestley Way, London, E17 6AL | £7+

QEF’s Magical Christmas Concert

A charity concert in aid of Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People, with mulled wine and mince pies to power you through all the big hits. Plus, there’ll be readings from the likes of Simon Callow, Greg Wise and Sheila Hancock.

Details: 11th December, 6.30-8.30pm Marylebone Parish Church, 17 Marylebone Rd, London NW1 5LT £35



Everyone loves a big organ. And the one in Battersea Arts Centre is huge. All the better then to bang out some tunes for a night of Organoke this Christmas. And yes, Organoke is exactly what it sounds like – a portmanteau of ‘organ karaoke’, in which a classically trained organist quite literally pulls out the stops to provide live accompaniment for a raucous evening of sing-a-long bangers.

Details: 13th December, 7.30pm | Battersea Arts Centre, Lavender Hill, London, SW11 5TN £25

Christmas Carols by Candlelight

The MS Society’s charity carol concert is set to be a fairly fancy event: there’ll be carol singing, stunning performances by the choir, and readings from the likes of Sue Perkins and Suranne Jones.

Details: 14th December, 7pm | Westminster Chapel, Buckingham Gate, London, SW1E 6BS £10-45

Christmas Classics

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 Philharmonic Orchestra, who’ll be interspersing the traditional carols with Mariah.

Details: 15th-17th December | Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | £30-60

The Rat Pack at Christmas

Ok, so it’s not The Rat Pack, but it’s a bloody good tribute act, 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: 16th December, 2.30pm and 7.30pm Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ £24-45

Christmas At The Movies

In what is probably the most efficient way to enjoy all of your favourite festive flicks in one day, the London Concert Orchestra are going to be playing through the theme tunes from some of the best, including Home Alone, Love Actually and White Christmas.

Details: 16th December, 7.30pm Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | £18.50-50

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: 17th December, 2pm and 5pm Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ £18-34

Carols by Candlelight at Union Chapel

carols by candlelight union chapel

One of the most popular carol services in London returns this year, illuminating the vast, grade II listed Union Chapel in Highbury with the glow of thousands of candles. There’ll be performances of classic carols and parts of Handel’s Messiah sung by the Union Chapel Voices choir, accompanied by a string quartet and the church’s amazing organ, as well as well-known carols to sing along to.

Details: 17th December, 6pm for 7pm start | Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, Islington, N1 2UN Free, arrive early to get seats

Christmas at the Barbican

This year the Barbican’s iconic hall will play host to the world-famous choir from King’s College; singalongs of classic carols and festive tunes; candlelit concerts; and a brand-new show bringing Christmas pop songs to life with a talented cast of singers and musicians. Not all at the same time, unfortunately.

Details: 17th, 20th, 22nd & 23rd December | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS £17.50-54

Brityard Christmas Extravaganza

Take a break from panic Christmas shopping on Regent Street to dip down into the basement at new boutique & events space Brityard for mulled cider, cheese toasties, and live music & carols from Olivier Award-winning actor George Maguire, West End star Simon Bailey, and a host of other talented performers.

Details: 21st December, 5.30-8pm | Brityard, 312 Regent Street, London W1B 3AU £15

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: 21st December, 7.30pm | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | £22.50-55

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, interspersed with snippets from A Christmas Carol presented by Kevin Whateley.

Details: 22nd December, 7pm Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ £30-55

Carols at Cadogan

Chelsea’s Cadogan Hall looks eminently cheery at Christmas time, with lights strung up and a big sparkly tree above the stage. And this year, their festive programme includes charity concerts, Handel’s Messiah, Christmassy tunes with West End stars, swing music, candlelit carols and an orchestral play-through of cult movie soundtracks.

Details: Throughout December Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ

The Actors’ Church

As you’d expect, The Actors’ Church in Covent Garden has no shortage of talent to draw on for festive concerts. There’s something on pretty much every day in the run-up to Christmas, but highlights include West End stars singing musical theatre songs & carols alongside charity carol services in aid of Meningitis Now and The Food Chain; a relaxed Christmassy singalong; string quartets playing by candlelight; and an Elizabethan choir (in full period costume) singing alongside readings from guest stars of stage and screen.

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

Christmas at The Royal Albert Hall

christmas at the royal albert hall

The Royal Albert Hall goes big on Christmas concerts. This year you can choose from Christmas music played by the Salvation Army; big band nightssingalong carols; a gospel take on Handel’s Messiah; A Christmas Gaiety with performances by drag artists Baga Chipz and Le Gateau Chocolat; a live orchestral play-along with Home Alone; some choral carol singing with a reading by Adjoa Andoh; festive soul with Trevor Nelson; and uplifting performances by the London Community Gospel Choir.

Details: Throughout December Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP ~£17-350


Looking for festive things to do? Check out our guide to Christmas in London 2023