Carols & Christmas Concerts | London 2019
It’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas…
…but it’s not just about the visuals, so we’ve hand-picked the best places to sing carols – or just listen to some live Christmassy music – across the capital. There’s street parties and candlelit churches, brass band-backed mass singalongs and even choirs and mulled wine at the top of the O2.
Allowing you – for the first time in your life – to literally ding dong merrily on high.
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, the folks at The Royal Oak pub roll their upright piano out onto the street for an impromptu, open air carolling sesh.
Details: Every Wednesday until Christmas, 5-9pm | Outside The Royal Oak, 73 Columbia Road, London E2 7RG | Free
Greenbelt Festival at Union Chapel
A laid-back, uplifting and convivial night of Christmas cheer in Islington’s jaw-dropping Grade I listed church, featuring spoken word by Bridget Minamore, Christmas classics updated by the Union Chapel Artists, and music from the Folk On band (performing their hit, Pants, It Must Be Christmas Time), all culminating in a mass-a-oke singalong.
Details: 4th December, 6.30pm | Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, Islington, N1 2UN | £20
Candlelit Carols & Shopping
Set in the secluded Floral Court, Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden is holding an evening of candlelit courtyard carol singing, surrounded by twinkling trees and fairy-lights. And afterwards, you’ll be able to browse their festive wares after hours, with a little mulled wine, panettone and freshly baked mince pies.
Details: 5th & 12th December, 6-9pm | Petersham Nurseries Covent Garden, 31 King Street, London, WC2E 8JD | Free, but register ahead
Hop Skip And Jump: Carols With A Twist
‘With a twist’ is kind of an understatement when this festive gig takes place in an old pickle warehouse in Bethnal Green, and involves mass karaoke singalongs to the likes of The Pogues and Mariah Carey, accompanied by a ten piece brass band and interspersed with DJ sets, beatboxers and a Renegade Choir. Plus, it’s all organised by – and in aid of – a charity offering respite care for children with disabilities.
Details: 6th December, 7pm-1am | The Pickle Factory, 13-14 The Oval, London E2 9DU | £25
Carols at St Martin-in-the-Fields
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: 7th December, 4-5pm | Trafalgar Square, London WC2N 4JJ | £10-20
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 month, there’ll be various community choirs pitching up at its base to spread festive cheer with classic carols.
Details: 9th-24th December (except 14th & 22nd), 4-9pm weekdays, 2-7pm weekends | Trafalgar Square | Free
Cancer Research UK’s Carol Concert
There are few places for carol singing more iconic than St. Paul’s Cathedral. This night is held in aid of Cancer Research UK, and promises festive readings from famous actors and speakers, performances from insanely talented musicians, and traditional carols for you to join in with.
Details: 10th December, 7pm | St. Paul’s Cathedral, London EC4M 8AD | £10-125
Christmas Carols by Candlelight
Yes, it’s a beautiful old church in the City. Yes, it’ll have carols by candlelight. Yes, there’ll be free mulled wine and mince pies afterwards. But also, it’ll have Kit Harington and Rose Leslie reunited for the first time since Game of Thrones, performing some festive readings in aid of MS Society.
Details: 10th December, 7pm | St. Botolph-without-Bishopsgate, EC2M 3TL | £40-85
WaterAid’s Christmas Concert
Ungry Young Man/Flickr
Mulled wine, mince pies, spiced hot chocolate and buñuelos (South American festive fried dough balls) – WaterAid’s first carol concert is a treat for the mouth as well as the ears. There’s a host of celebrity readers in the line-up, but the headliners are the incredible Some Voices choir, who have also performed their epic takes on modern pop across London to huge acclaim.
Details: 10th December, 6.30pm | St Mary Aldermary Church, Entrance on Bow Lane, 69 Watling Street, EC4N 4SJ | £16.76-38.32
The Pico Christmas Carol Concert
The Pico Players are a motley orchestra made up of aerospace engineers, nurses, lawyers and mothers who were, at some point, Grade 8 musicians. Their concerts are relaxed, upbeat affairs, and their Christmas Concert sold out last year – so you’ll want to book in early if singing carols alongside a full symphony orchestra and choir (followed by mulled wine and mince pies) sounds like your kind of thing.
Details: 10th December, 7.30pm | St. Gabriel’s Church, Pimlico, SW1V | From £20
Christmas at The Royal Albert Hall
The RAH is holding far too many Christmassy concerts to list here, but they include Hollywood festive soundtracks, big band nights, Handel’s Messiah, singalong carols with Rick Astley, 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 | ~£18-90
Nordoff Robbins Carol Service
Sure, £50 might seem like a steep sum to part with right before Christmas. But it’s justified in this case, because the performers include tenor Alfie Boe and soprano Danielle de Niese, “one of the fastest-growing classical artists in the world” (presumably not in height), Alexis Ffrench, and none other than hot priest (from Fleabag), Andrew Scott. Oh, and it’s all in aid of a charity who do amazing music therapy work with people affected by disabilities, loneliness, or illnesses that limit their quality of life.
Details: 10th December, 7pm | St. Luke’s Church, Sydney Street, Chelsea, London SW3 6NH | £50
Christmas Carols At The Palace
This one ticks all the boxes – impressive setting (the great hall at Lambeth Palace), mulled wine, mince pies, carols (sung both by you and the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Choir), and all in aid of charity Mothers’ Union.
Details: 11th December, 6.30pm | Lambeth Palace, SE1 7JU | £30.40-38
Gospel Carol Concert
The award-winning IDMC Gospel Choir will be leading the charge at this concert, accompanied by a big brass quartet. Mingling classic carols with upbeat gospel performances, it’s all in aid of Feed the Minds, a charity that seeks to empower some of the poorest communities across the globe.
Details: 11th December, 7.30-9pm | Wesley’s Chapel, 49 City Road, London, EC1Y 1AU | £13.31-15.43
Westminster Abbey Christmas Concert
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: 12th December, 7-8.15pm | Westminster Abbey, London, SW1P 3PA | £15-40
Beer and Carols
Honestly, we’re not sure how much better we can sell you on this. It’s a proper, old-school boozer, with beer, pie and mash (from Pieminster), and carol singing round the bar, in conjunction with local church St. John’s Blackheath.
Details: 12th & 19th December, from 8.30pm | The British Oak, 109 Old Dover Road, SE3 8SU | Free
Songs and Festive Favourites for Choir and Jazz Band
International jazz singer Clare Teal joins the BBC Singers and National Youth Jazz Orchestra for a whistle-stop tour of festive jazz standards, from Rat Pack classics to It’s The Most Wonderful Time of the Year.
Details: 13th December, 7.30pm | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | £12-35
Midnight Apothecary Christmas Singalonga
For a more raucous, underground (literally) festive singalong, look no further than The Midnight Apothecary. Upstairs, in their roof garden, you’ll be able to sip hot rum toddies and toast marshmallows around campfires, before descending into the candlelit Victorian tunnel shaft for festive tunes (from Nat King Cole to Wham) with the Nathan Osgood Trio.
Details: 14th December, 5.30-10pm | The Brunel Museum, Railway Avenue, SE16 4LF | £10
Carols From Around The World
If the limits of your festive musical patience have been tested by mid-December, head to Pimlico. The Colla Voce choir will be singing yuletide tunes from Quebec to Latvia (plus a couple of English classics for you to join in with, you old Scrooge).
Details: 14th December, 7pm | St. Saviour’s, St.George’s Square, Pimlico, London SW1V 3QW | £13.20
Christmas at Southwark Cathedral
There’s carols on almost every day at Southwark Cathedral this month, but highlights include a free one collecting donations to help the homeless; a Swedish St. Lucia concert celebrating the darkest night of the year, with coffee, cinnamon buns and a choir wearing candelabra crowns; the Mayor’s carol service, with readings from communities across the capital and the London International Gospel Choir; and a casual afternoon singalong with festive jumpers and hats.
Details: Throughout December | Southwark Cathedral, London Bridge, SE1 9DA
Christmas With The Stars
Leave it to the professionals at the Actor’s Church (St. Paul’s in Covent Garden). They’re staging a festive charity concert for Children With Cancer UK, which’ll see musical theatre stars from the likes of Hamilton, SIX, and Everybody’s Talking About Jamie take to the stage. But if you don’t want to share the limelight, they’ll also be holding a more traditional, candlelit concert on the 8th.
Details: 8th & 15th December, 6/7.45pm | St. Paul’s Church, Bedford Street, London, WC2E 9ED | Free/£40
Carols at The Ned
The cathedral-like interiors of The Ned make for a pretty epic setting for Christmas. This year, you can either settle in for a three course meal in Millie’s Lounge or Cecconi’s; drinks and canapés at The Nickel Bar; or just prop up in the atrium – either way, you’ll be able to soak up the dulcet tones of Gareth Malone’s choir, before joining in for some festive classics.
Details: 15th & 22nd December, from 7pm | The Ned, 27 Poultry, EC2R 8AJ | £20-75
A Choral Christmas
If you’re nervous about anyone catching wind of your bung notes, the Barbican’s Choral Christmas is a safe bet – you’ll be trilling away in an audience of 2,000, alongside a 300-strong choir and a brass ensemble to really blast out the angelic trumpet bits.
Details: 15th December, 3pm | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | £12-32
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 – Hallelujah, Zadok the Priest, Joy To The World, etc. – and is rounded off with some old-school carols, like In The Bleak Midwinter and Good King Wenceslas.
Details: 21st December, 8pm | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | £16.50-42.50
Jingle Bell Christmas
If, somehow, you haven’t had total Christmas pop fatigue by the 21st, the Barbican are staging a Rockettes-style festive extravaganza, with The London Concert Orchestra, Capital Voices and The Jingle Belles dancers taking you from Mariah Carey to Dean Martin.
Details: 21st December, 1pm/4.15pm | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | £18.50-47.50
Christmas Carols & Hog Roast
This cosy Canary Wharf pub is holding a free night of carol singing, with a little mulled wine to wet your whistle. Plus, they’re serving up buns from their signature hog roast. Ding dong.
Details: 21st December, 6-9pm | The Gun, 27 Coldharbour, E14 9NS | Free
Christmas Carol Climbs
If these concerts just haven’t involved enough high-altitude adrenaline for you, you’ll be relieved to hear that the O2 have stepped up. They’re holding after-dark climbs over the millennium dome, where you’ll find carollers, mulled wine, Aero hot chocolates and insane views waiting for you at the top.
Details: 21st December, 10am-6.30pm | The O2, Peninsula Square, Greenwich Peninsula, London SE10 0DX | £39
A Very Merry Christmas
Settle in to some old-school, big band swing with The Dream Town Orchestra, who’ll be playing through Christmas songs made famous by Frank Sinatra, Ella Fitzgerald and Nat King Cole.
Details: 22nd December, 7.30pm | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | £16.50-42.50
Christmas Cracker with Aled Jones
This Christmas Cracker’s got a real pull – it’s an all-rounder, with classic carols interspersed with festive readings and other Christmassy tunes, like Sleigh Ride, Walking In The Air and a little of Tchaikovsky’s Nutcracker.
Details: 23rd December, 7.30pm | Barbican Centre, Silk Street, London, EC2Y 8DS | £17.50-46
Main image: Southwark Cathedral
Looking for festive things to do? Check out our guide to Christmas in London 2019