Salisbury Cathedral announces programme of Christmas events

Salisbury Cathedral has announced its schedule for the busy festive season. Colourful art, world class music, films and family activities will run alongside the Cathedral’s Advent and Christmas services this year. From the end of November to the start of January the Cathedral will be a hive
of activity.


From Darkness to Light
25-27th November
Regarded by many as the unmissable prelude to the Christmas season, From Darkness to Light takes place on the last weekend in November.
Symbolising the arrival of Christ as the light in our world, the Advent service begins in total darkness, broken only when the single candle is lit and a lone voice is heard. As the service unfolds, two processions bearing candles make their way from west to east, singing as they go. Taperers follow in their wake, lighting candles.
The service ends with the Cathedral interior ablaze with the light of 1,300 flickering candles and a joyful procession of around 90 including the Bishop of Salisbury, Dean of Salisbury, Cathedral Canons, and 40-strong Cathedral Choir making its way down the nave to the west end. A sight not to be missed.
Services start at 7pm (doors open 6pm) on Friday, 25th, and Saturday, 26th November and 5pm (doors open 4pm) on Sunday, 27th November. For further information regarding seating please check the Cathedral website.

Art: David Batchelor
28th November – 2nd February
Art also features in the Cathedral this Advent and Christmas with an exhibition showcasing the work of British artist David Batchelor, known for his vividly-coloured sculptural installations of illuminated lightboxes, industrial dollies and other found objects.
Echoing the colour and joy of the Advent and Christmas season, David’s installations compliment the Cathedral’s lovely stained glass, and his use of recycled materials chimes perfectly with the Cathedral’s commitment to sustainability and the environment.
The exhibition, which is curated by Beth Hughes, Salisbury Cathedral’s Visual Arts Curator, will be in the Cathedral and opens on Monday, 28th November and runs until Thursday, 2nd February 2023.

Christmas Tree
From Monday, 5th December
Raising the Cathedral’s gigantic 34ft Christmas tree, sourced from Longleat’s sustainable forest, is always a big event.
This year it will be put in place by the Works Yard team on Monday 5th December, under the watchful eye of Richard Pike, the Cathedral’s ecclesiastical carpenter and Gary price, Clerk of Works. The tree will be decorated the following day (Tuesday, 6th November) with over 1,000 fairy lights. This magnificent festive symbol offers a perfect Christmas photo opportunity, particularly reflected in the font.

Carols for groups
14-15th December
A Christmas experience specially for groups, with the concert given by the Cathedral Choir and communal carol singing followed by mulled wine and mince pies in the Cathedral Cloisters. Starting at 2pm on Tuesday 14 and Wednesday 15 this is an opportunity to celebrate Christmas and share some seasonal cheer with your retirement group or club, work colleagues or a bunch of friends.
To find out more or reserve your spaces contact Kate or Hannah on or 01722 555120.

Films at the Cathedral
17th December
Titles are yet to be announced but the Cathedral will be showing festive films in the Nave on Saturday 17th December.

Twilight Tower Tours
From Saturday 19th November
A chance to enjoy the city’s Christmas lights from on high! Twilight Tower Tours return on Saturday 19th November following the big Christmas Light switch on in the city.
Climb 332 steps through the Cathedral’s historic roof spaces to the base of the Spire and enjoy a spectacular birds-eye-view of Salisbury dressed in its festive best, and the Close sparkling below, its trees festooned with fairy lights. A delightful scene at dusk.
Tickets adult £16/student £12/child £6 and private tours £150

Handel’s Messiah and Snowman Live
Saturday 10th December and Saturday 19th December
On Saturday 1Oth December at 7pm, Handel’s Messiah sung by the Cathedral Choir, accompanied by the renowned City of London Sinfonia returns to the Cathedral. This is a popular seasonal fixture in the Cathedral’s musical calendar, it’s one that never fails to delight.
Soloists include Robin Blaze, a familiar face at the Cathedral having sung counter tenor for the Messiah in previous years. Robin is joined by Rebecca Hardwick (soprano), Ruairi Bowen (tenor) and Jake Muffett (bass), all of whom sang in the Southern Cathedral Festival performance of Haydn’s Creation last July. Tickets are on sale via the website.
The following weekend sees the return of the evergreen family classic, The Snowman Live. This heart-warming Christmas film event with a soundtrack provided by a live orchestra can be seen in the Cathedral at 4pm and 7pm on Monday 19th December.
In a double bill with The Snowman, Carrot Productions’ award-winning team are also showing The Flight Before Christmas, a sensational new Shaun the Sheep film staged with a live orchestra for the first time. Shaun’s festive excitement turns to dismay when a farmhouse raid to get stockings for the flock goes wrong.
A wonderful introduction to orchestral music for children, the show is suitable for all ages. Ticket information available via the Cathedral website.

Late night festive opening
15th December
The Cathedral’s annual Late Night Festive Open Evening is on Thursday, 15th December from 6.30pm to 9pm this year. Wander around the Cathedral after dark, take a trip up to the west window or just pause to enjoy seasonal music provided by the Kate Edgar choir.
Children are welcome to play on the Cathedral’s child-friendly wooden Nativity, made by local artist Ray Wirick. The Nativity cast is expanding this year with new figures added to the Holy Family and its friendly donkey and sheep. Watch this space.
The refectory and shop are also opening late, so visitors can pop in for a bite to eat or for a spot of last-minute retail therapy.

Carols by Candlelight
23-24th December
The Cathedral is premiering a new carol by the celebrated composer Errollyn Wallen at its spectacular carol services on Friday 23rd and Saturday 24th December. Born in Belize, the carols of her childhood made a lasting impression, and she will no doubt bring some of that feeling to her new composition.
The services which recount the age-old story of Jesus’ birth through readings, favourite carols and beautiful choral works take place at 7pm. For information regarding seating please check the Cathedral website.

Families at Christmas
Christmas Angels Trail
9th December to 7th February 2023
Over Christmas and New Year a host of tiny angels will be hidden around the Cathedral waiting for children to seek them out. This charming Christmas trail is available from the Welcome Desk from Friday 9th December to Tuesday 7th February 2023.
Little Angels Craft: parent and child drop in session
9th December and 12th December
Angels also feature in this year’s Christmas Craft sessions taking place in South Transept between 10am to 12 midday on Friday 9th December and Monday 12th December. Children and their families are welcome to drop in and make their own angel wings. Sessions are free, no need to book.

Angel Christmas Craft: family drop in session
Tuesday 20th December
A chance for all the family to do some Christmas crafting. Grown-ups can make cards to send to friends and family while children can create their own angel wings to take home. Sessions take place in the South Transept between 10am and 2pm. Sessions are free, no need to book.

Christmas Eve Family Services
24th December
Anything can happen in this joyously interactive service that retells the story of Mary and Joseph’s journey to Bethlehem featuring two narrators and multiple screens – and a cast strolling players.
There are two services this year at 1pm and 2.30pm. Both will last approximately 45 minutes. Doors open 30 minutes before each service. Please arrive early to get a seat.
Christmas Eve and Day
Services on Christmas Eve:
08.30am Morning Prayer
08.50am Holy Communion
1pm Family Service (as above)
2.30pm Family Service (as above)
5.30pm Choral Evensong
11pm The First Eucharist of

Christmas or Midnight Mass
The First Eucharist of Christmas or Midnight Mass is one of the most popular Christmas services. It marks the beginning of our celebration of Christmas, the first of the 12 days of Christmas tide, which spans from the Feast of the Nativity of Our Lord or Christmas Day to the Feast of Epiphany on Thursday 5th January 2023.
Everyone is welcome to join us for Midnight Mass, sharing communion together, hearing the Christmas Gospel, singing carols and listening to beautiful Christmas music sung by the Cathedral Choir.
Services on Christmas Day include:
08.30am Morning Prayer
10:30am The Eucharist
3pm Festal Evensong
All are welcome to celebrate Christmas with us in this moving service of choral music, readings and prayers sung by the Cathedral Choir.

Photos by Ash Mills

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