The UK's best Christmas concerts 2022
A round-up of the venues hosting live Christmas concerts and showcasing classical artists across the UK
There's a packed calendar of Christmas concerts across the UK this year. After a quieter couple of years due to the COVD pandemic, there's a packed programme of concerts, carol services and family music events across the country. Reach for that diary and get some dates booked in!
The best Christmas concerts near me in the UK
Here is our handpicked selection of some of the best Christmas concerts around the country this Christmas.
Best Christmas concerts: Scotland
RSNO Christmas Concert featuring The Snowman
Aberdeen Music Hall, 15 December / Caird Hall, Dundee, 16 December / Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 17 December / Usher Hall, Edinburgh, 18 December
Join the RSNO this December for a special feast of Christmas cheer! This family-friendly concert is packed full of your favourite sing along carols and favourite festive melodies. Plus, don’t miss the magical film The Snowman shown on the big screen, accompanied by the Orchestra and narrated by Aled Jones. It’s the perfect start to your Christmas.
- The Snowman: A guide to the music of this festive classic - and who actually sang 'Walking in the Air'
SCO Chorus Christmas Concert: The Heart of Night
Greyfriar's Kirk, Edinburgh, 20-21 December
A much-loved fixture on the Scottish musical calendar, the SCO Chorus’ seasonal concert ushers in Yuletide with a warming collection of music under the inspirational direction of conductor Gregory Batsleer.
The freely flowing lyricism of Arnold Bax’s rich and reverential Mater ora filium contrasts with the deeply spiritual purity of Arvo Pärt’s serene Da pacem Domine and Anna Clyne’s contemplative The Heart of Night, written specially for the SCO Chorus.
The programme also includes Rutter’s dazzling choral epic Hymn to the Creator of Light and Poston’s timeless Jesus Christ the Apple Tree. Here are the lyrics to Jesus Christ the Apple Tree.
City of Glasgow Chorus: Christmas Cracker
Glasgow Royal Concert Hall, 18 December
The City of Glasgow Chorus returns with the Orchestra of Scottish Opera for its annual festive celebration'
An annual festive choral and orchestral extravaganza including O Holy Night, The Hark the Herald Angels, It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas, O Come all ye Faithful, and many more.
Best Christmas concerts: Wales
Family Christmas Concert (English and Welsh versions)
Hoddinott Hall, Cardiff, 18 December
The BBC National Orchestra of Wales present a joyous Christmas cracker filled with festive family favourites. 2pm concert in English, or 4pm concert in Welsh.
The Sixteen at Christmas
St David's Hall, Cardiff, 4 December
The wonderful choir The Sixteen present their 2022 Christmas programme, a beautiful collection of music from the 16th century right up to the present day. Expect a nice contrast between much-loved modern classics including Gabriel Jackson’s The Christ-child and Cecilia McDowall’s Brightest Star, and the gorgeous Renaissance sounds of Palestrina’s Videntes stellam Magi and Sheppard’s Reges Tharsis.
For fans of the more traditional, the programme has plenty on offer including favourites Past Three O’Clock and Angels, From the Realms of Glory.
Best Christmas concerts: Northern Ireland
Ulster Orchestra: The Magic of Christmas
Waterfront Hall, Belfast, 21 December
Conductor Alfonso Casado Trigo leads the orchestra and Belfast Philharmonic Choir in an entertaining night for the whole family. Enjoy an enchanting programme of Christmas and movie classics including White Christmas, O Holy Night, All I want for Christmas and more.
Best Christmas concerts: England (North)
York Early Music Christmas Festival
York, 8-16 December
The York Early Music Christmas Festival was created in 1997 to introduce audiences to the extraordinary wealth of music associated with Advent, Christmas and Epiphany, from the Medieval to the Baroque, intertwined with the sagas, stories and tales of the north.
The 2022 Festival opens with La Palatine, rising stars of the Creative Europe funded EEEmerging+ programme. Highlights include violinist Bojan Cicic presenting two complementary concerts celebrating the music of J.S. Bach and guest ensembles will include Spiritato! with the Marian Consort, Ensemble Moliere, the Orlando Consort, The York Waits, Yorkshire Baroque Soloists and Solomon’s Knot.
The Sixteen at Christmas
The Sage, Gateshead, 9 December
See Wales above.
Hallé Carol Concert
Bridgewater Hall, Manchester, 17 December
Stephen Bell conducts and presents the Hallé’s annual traditional celebration of Christmas. There will be carols for choir and audience, as well as a stockingful of the most beautiful and magical music performed by the Hallé in seasonal mood.
Popular carols to be performed include 'Once in Royal David’s City', 'Silent Night', 'O Holy Night', 'The Holly and the Ivy', 'I Saw Three Ships' and 'Joy to the World'. Plus, the Hallé Children’s Choir sing 'There Is a Santa Claus' from the movie Elf.
Best Christmas concerts: England (Midlands)
Orchestra of the Swan: Midwinter
Playhouse, Stratford-upon-Avon, 6 December / Drapers' Hall, Coventry, 9 December
Join Orchestra of the Swan for a breathtaking tribute to winter and the festive season featuring music and words from across the centuries – ancient carols, folky fiddling, traditional Christmas songs and classical favourites.
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A CBSO Choral Christmas with Alan Titchmarsh
Symphony Hall,Birmingham, 15 & 16 DecemberJoin the full CBSO family, including the massed choirs and full orchestra, alongside conductor Simon Halsey and TV favourite Alan Titchmarsh, for an evening full of Christmas cheer. Some favourite hymns and carols including 'Away in a Manger', 'The Twelve Days of Christmas', 'While Shepherds Watched', and 'Hark the Herald' are on the programme.
Ex Cathedra: Christmas Music by Candlelight
St Chad's Shrewsbury, 2 December / St James the Greater, Leicester, 3 December / Hereford Cathedral, 7 December / Coventry Cathedral, 13 December / St Oaul's Church, Birmingham, 19-23 December
Jeffrey Skidmore’s choir presents another exquisitely performed sequence of seasonal favourites, little-known gems and inspiring new music – with readings to make you smile and reflect. All performed by candlelight, creating a magical atmosphere at this most wonderful time of the year.
Programme includes Vaughan Williams' 'This is the Truth', the carol 'O Little Town of Bethlehem' and William Byrd's 'Lullaby, my sweet little baby'.
Best Christmas concerts: England (South)
Bristol Bach Choir
St George's Bristol, 10 December
The Bristol Bach Choir bring you a joyous celebration of Christmas through gloriously uplifting music and humorous and profound readings; a blend of the traditional and contemporary, guaranteed to fill you with festive cheer. Come along and be inspired by the charm, wonder and magic of Christmas.
St George's Bristol, 21 December
The Choir of Royal Holloway return to St George’s Bristol in another collaboration with Bristol Ensemble orchestra as they bring to life Handel’s masterpiece, Messiah.
Talented young soloists drawn from the choir will perform the work’s arias from positions around the hall, bringing a freshness and vitality to this astonishing and compelling work.
Christmas Day Sung Eucharist
Westminster Abbey, 25 December
Celebrate Christmas Day at Westminster Abbey. This Eucharist includes the singing of Christmas Carols, music from the Abbey Choir, a sermon and Holy Communion, lasting about 90 minutes.
Singing for Syrians Carol Concert
St Margaret's Church, Westminster, 1 December
Enjoy an evening of Christmas carols at St Margaret's Church. Featuring readings and performances by Jeremy Irons, Julie Christie, Sinead Cusack and others. All funds raised go directly to health and education programmes that are supporting the livelihoods of Syrian doctors and teachers as well as vital services to their local communities.
Carols at the Royal Albert Hall
Royal Albert Hall, 17-24 December
Carol concerts at the Royal Albert Hall have become a festive favourite over the years and 2022 is no exception.
Performers at this year's Concert include the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, Royal Choral Society, National Youth Choirs of Great Britain and British Imperial Military Band.
Christmas with the Cathedral Choir
Exeter Cathedral, 9 / 11 / 12 December
Exeter Cathedral’s renowned choir returns for the most popular Christmas carol concerts of the year. The adults and Choristers will be directed by Timothy Noon (Director of Music), and accompanied on Exeter's mighty cathedral organ.
The Sixteen at Christmas
Anvil, Basingstoke, 29 November / St Martin in the Fields, 6 December / St John the Evangelist, 16December / Cadogan Hall, London, 21 December
See Wales above.
Glyndebourne Christmas Concert 2022
Lewes, 10-11 December
The Christmas concert will showcase the talents of the Glyndebourne Chorus and Tour Orchestra. The concert starts with opera highlights – rousing tunes that will stay in your head long after the curtain comes down. This is followed by yuletide classics and carols for all.
As well as the family-friendly Christmas concert you can also enjoy a host of festive offerings at Glyndebourne during your visit.
St John’s Smith Square Christmas Festival
St John’s Smith Square, London, 10-23 December
The 37th instalment of St John’s perennially popular Christmas Festival includes visits from London Choral Sinfonia, The Tallis Scholars, Orchestra of the Age of Enlightenment, The Gesualdo Six, Siglo de Oro and many more. A hugely tempting array of festive fare, across a wide range of eras, styles and performance approaches.
Monteverdi Choir: Bach's Christmas Oratorio 'Weihnachtsoratorium'
St Martin-in-the-Fields, London, 13 December (Parts 1-3) / 15 December (Parts 4-6)
John Eliot Gardiner’s Monteverdi forces present Bach's great festive oratorio in two parts. The period instruments of the English Baroque Soloists are also in attendance.
The Nutcracker & I
Snape Maltings, 15-16 December
A pianist, a ballerina, and a magical digital world on screen. This is Tchaikovsky’s ballet The Nutcracker for the 21st century, using astonishing, state-of-the-art animation and effects to retell this seasonal classic like it’s never been told before, creating a fantastical world so real that you might even start to believe in sugarplum fairies!
Steve has been an avid listener of classical music since childhood, and now contributes a variety of features to BBC Music’s magazine and website. He started writing about music as Arts Editor of an Oxford University student newspaper and has continued ever since, serving as Arts Editor on various magazines.