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Christmas Carol Services - Christmas at King's College Chapel Cambridge

A Christmas Tradition Heard Live Around the World - And Anyone Can Go


King's College Chapel Cambridge in Winter

King's College Chapel Cambridge in Winter


The Christmas Eve Carol service held at King's College Chapel in Cambridge England, known as the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols has become one of the most famous carol services in the world. And it's all down to the BBC.

The service, first held in 1918, has been broadcast live by the BBC, every year, except 1930, since 1928. The service was even conducted during World War II in a freezing cold chapel from which all ancient glass - and heating - had been removed.

During the 1930s, the BBC World Service began broadcasting the service live on Christmas Eve. A digital recording is now also broadcast on Christmas Day. As a result, millions of people around the world have grown up listening to this carol service and thousands of churches have adopted its format.

How You Can Attend

The King's Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols is free to anyone who wishes to attend but it is extremely popular so you have to be willing to line up very early for a chance at a seat:


  • Queuing begins at 7a.m. when the first members of the public are admitted to the grounds of King's College.
  • Entrance is only through the main gate on King's Parade. All other gates into the College are locked.
  • The college porters monitor the number of people joining the queue. Once there are as many in the queue as there are seats available, the porters advise new arrivals that they are unlikely to be seated.
  • Generally, anyone in the queue by 9a.m. is likely to be seated, but there is no guarantee.
  • Bags and packages cannot be taken into the chapel and must be left with the porters in designated areas.
The doors to the chapel open at 1:30 p.m. for the service, which starts at 3 p.m. and ends at about 4:30 p.m.

Special Admission for the Disabled

A limited number of advance tickets are available for people unable to stand in the queue because of disability or illness. Demand for these tickets is high so anyone hoping to obtain one should apply by mail before the end of October. Send postal applications to:
The PA to the Dean
King's College
Cambridge, CB2 1ST United Kingdom

Compare Prices for Christmas CDs by King's College Choir

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