London Walking Tours    with Joanna Moncrieff

Top 10 Free Carol Concerts 2013

This is the third year running I’ve produced a list of free carol concerts and services in London. I am already getting a number of views on my now out-of-date lists so the time has come to bring it up to date. This is really only a snapshot of what’s available so please add any you may know of in the comments below.

1. My list starts with the RNLI’s Annual Festival of Lessons and Carols which takes place at St Simon Zelotes Church in Chelsea on Tuesday 3rd December at 7pm. Entrance is free but a collection will be taken.  More details can be found here. If I wasn’t leading a walk on Tuesday I would definitely be attending.

This year myself and some other Westminster Guides volunteered at Tower RNLI for the Thames Festival and I’ve now signed up as an occasional volunteer so hope to return there soon. My blog post about my day volunteering can be found here.

2. Trafalgar Square

The world famous tree will be lit on Thursday 5th December and from Monday 9th to Sunday 22nd December there will be carol singing around the tree by a different group each night – 4pm-8pm on weekdays and 2pm-6pm on weekends. More details can be found here.

3. St Bartholomew the Great

The Priory Church was founded in AD 1123 as part of a monastery of Augustinian Canons but the church is probably more well known by the general public for having featured in the film Four Weddings and a Funeral.  There is a cafe here and I have just discovered that the cafe is open some evenings until 7pm and serves wine, monastic beer and cocktails!  

There are a number of carol services listed here including a lunchtime one on Monday 22nd December at 1pm. If I’m free I’m going to try to get to that and will try out their cafe too!
4. St Bride’s Church, Fleet Street

The journalists’ church always has lots of private carol services for neighbouring companies. However there are two that are free and open to the public:

Friday 20th December at both 12pm and 5pm. Scroll down on this page for details.

5. Just up Fleet Street from St Bride’s is St Dunstans-in-the-West which I used to visit regularly for lunchtime recitals when I worked in the area. I always enjoyed their carol service which was usually followed by refreshments. However details aren’t yet on their website.

6. Another church where I used to regularly attend lunchtime recitals when working in the area was St Martin within Ludgate. This church is in Ludgate Hill almost opposite City Thameslink.

Thursday 19th December at 1.05pm followed by mulled wine and mince pies

7. Temple Church 

I started putting this list together last week and at that point discovered a number of carol services some of which are free and some of which aren’t. However for some strange reason I now can’t find the list on their website! There is one listed though for tomorrow, 2nd December at 6pm (details are on the left-hand side). No doubt the other events will reappear. For those carol services that have refreshments a £5 donation is encouraged. However it would normally cost you £4 just to visit the church. 

8. St Pancras Church, Euston Road

While you’re there check out the Crypt Gallery

Thursday 12th December 1.15pm – 2pm   Lunchtime Carol Service 
Sunday 22nd December 6.00pm   Christmas Carol Service by Candlelight

9. St James’s Piccadilly 

Only one of two Wren churches outside the City of London (the other being the RAF Church St Clement Danes) there are a number of carol services taking place here including Carols for Shoppers on Tuesday 17th December at 5.30pm. 

10. All Hallows by the Tower

Despite being supposedly at the top of my “To visit” list a year ago after reading London Historians’ post about it I am ashamed to say I still haven’t made it here. However my limited mobility in the summer due to a foot injury did prevent me from doing all that I wanted to.

There are a number of services here including one in French on Monday 16th December at 6pm.

And lastly the Big Three: 

St Paul’s

Until a few years ago I would regularly attend St Paul’s either to see the Celebrity Speakers’ carol concert (19th December this year) or their free production of the Messiah. However each year it was increasingly harder to get a reasonable seat and at my last visit to see the Messiah a couple of years ago when I was absolutely frozen at the back of the cathedral I said to myself never again and that I would rather pay to see the Messiah in a smaller (or warmer) venue. I now see they are providing big screens in Paternoster Square for various of their carol services which means it must be even harder to get in without queuing hours before. That’s not for me. If however you are more hardy than me the link to all their services/concerts is here.

It’s the same really for Westminster Abbey although in their case all tickets have already been allocated via Eventbrite. Having temped (as a legal secretary) for much of 2013 in the building next door to Westminster Abbey I should really have got my act together earlier!

And finally one that I have managed to get a ticket for. The Mayor’s Annual Carol Service at Southwark Cathedral on Monday 16th December.

As mentioned above any additions welcome!

6.00-20.00 on weekdays and from 14.00-18.00 on weekends. – See more at:
6.00-20.00 on weekdays and from 14.00-18.00 on weekends. – See more at:

One Response to Top 10 Free Carol Concerts 2013

  • Holy Trinity Clapham, Clapham Common, SW4 0QZ
    Sunday 22nd December, 6pm

    HOPEHIV Carol Service
    Come and share in HOPEHIV’s festive cheer, with a good old sing-along and the chance to hear some talented musicians perform their own, stunning carol adaptations, including the awesome Wilderthorn.

    No tickets required. Mulled wine and mince pies available afterwards – everyone’s welcome!