Southbank Carol Singalong, credit Richard Haughton
Hattie Lloyd 30/11/22
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 and listen to some Christmassy music across the capital this year:
Kansas Smitty’s Big Band Plays The Nutcracker Suite
This event’s a triple threat: 1) It’s taking place in an atmospheric factory space. 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: 2nd December, 8pm | The Fireworks Factory, 11 No 1 Street, Woolwich, SE18 6HD | £26.50-32.50
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 December | St Luke’s & Christ Church, Sydney Street, London, SW3 6NH | £22-34
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, it’s at maximum enchantment levels. There are Christmassy music recitals taking place throughout December, but the headliners are the candlelit carol concerts, happening most Friday & Saturday nights.
Details: 3rd, 10th, 16th, 17th, 21st & 23rd December, 7:30pm | St. Martin-in-the-Fields, Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ | £10-35
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: 4th, 11th & 18th December, from 7pm | The Ned, 27 Poultry, EC2R 8AJ | £40 standing, or £120 at the bar inc. drinks & three-course meal/snacks
Christmas At The Movies
In what is probably the most efficient way to enjoy all of your favourite festive flicks in one day, the Philharmonia Orchestra are going to be playing through the theme tunes from some of the best, including Home Alone, Love Actually, It’s A Wonderful Life, and White Christmas.
Details: 4th December, 2.30pm | Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | £19-52
Christmas at Southwark Cathedral
There’s plenty of carolling at Southwark Cathedral this month, including a free service with a speech from Sadiq Khan; the traditional Southwark Cathedral concerts with mince pies and mulled wine; a Marie Curie charity service with readings by Alison Steadman OBE and Sir Michael Morpurgo; and a casual lunchtime singalong with Christmas songs besides just carols.
Details: 5th, 7th, 10th, 14th, 16th, 18th & 20th December | Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, SE1 9DA | Free – £75
Handel’s Messiah: The Live Experience
The original Messiah: Live Experience was attended by about five people, some cattle, and a couple of archangels. This one’s going to be on a pretty big scale, presenting Handel’s orchestral masterpiece in an all-new immersive format. It comes to us from the team at Immersive Everywhere (The Great Gatsby, Peaky Blinders: The Rise, etc), who’ll be employing some highly creative lighting, bombastic visual effects, and a showcase of imaginative choreography to bring the music to vivid life…
Details: 6th December | Theatre Royal, Drury Lane, WC2B 5JF | £25+
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 holding an open air carolling sesh too.
Details: 7th, 14th & 21st December, 5-9pm | Outside The Royal Oak, 73 Columbia Road, London E2 7RG | Free
Carol Singing in Trafalgar Square
The towering Norwegian spruce in Trafalgar Square has been an annual gift to London since 1947. And as always, you can expect various community choirs to pitch 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
The Royal Albert Hall is holding far too many Christmassy concerts to list here, but they include A Christmas Gaiety with performances by drag artists Cheddar Gorgeous and Le Gateau Chocolat; a live orchestral play-along with Home Alone; big band nights; Christmassy jazz; Handel’s Messiah, singalong carols, performances by the London Community Gospel Choir, festive soul with Trevor Nelson and swing with Rick Astley; and The Nutcracker with Birmingham Royal Ballet.
Details: Throughout December | Royal Albert Hall, Kensington Gore, SW7 2AP | ~£12-100
Christmas at Westminster Abbey
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: 8th & 20th December | Westminster Abbey, London, SW1P 3PA | Free – £90
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
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 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: 9th December | Electric Ballroom 184 Camden High Street, NW1 8QP | £15
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 Mozart Festival Chorus, interspersed with snippets from A Christmas Carol presented by Stephen Mangan.
Details: 10th December, 8pm | Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | £16.50-49.50 | Book here
AND 24th December, 2.30pm | Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ | £30-55 | 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: 10th December, 2.30pm and 7.30pm | Eventim Apollo, 45 Queen Caroline Street, London, W6 9QH | From £53
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 Slade.
Details: 12th December, 12.30 & 4.15pm | Southbank Centre, Belvedere Road, SE1 8XX | £16.50-49.50
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 Meningitis Now and The Food Chain; a relaxed Christmassy singalong; a traditional carol service with mince pies & mulled wine; 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 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 Scott Mills.
Details: 15th December, 6:30pm | St Mary’s Church, Marylebone,W1H 1PQ | £10-90
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: 17th December, 2.30pm and 7.30pm | Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ | £21.50-39.50
Carols by Candlelight at 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: 18th December, 7pm | Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, Islington, N1 2UN | Free, arrive early to get seats
Carols at Cadogan
Chelsea’s Cadogan Hall looks eminently cheery at Christmas time, with lights strung up and a big sparkly tree behind the choir. This year, that choir is the 100-strong Bach Choir, accompanied by a brass ensemble, who’ll be taking you through carols old and new – including an award-winning one that was written this year.
Details: 20th December, 7.30pm | Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ | £19-39
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 Philharmonia Orchestra.
Details: 21st December, 7.30-9.45pm | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | £22.50-54
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: 22nd December, 1.30pm and 4.30pm | Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ | £16-32
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: 22nd December, 7.30-9.45pm | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | £17.50-45 – book here
AND: 23rd December, 2.30pm & 7.30pm | Cadogan Hall, 5 Sloane Terrace, London SW1X 9DQ | £30-50 – book here
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 Bell dancers taking you from Bing Crosby to Elton John.
Details: 23rd December, 2.30pm | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | £18.50-49.50
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: 23rd & 24th December, 4-5pm | St. Paul’s Cathedral, London EC4M 8AD | Free
Looking for festive things to do? Check out our guide to Christmas in London 2022
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