Hear the Angels Sing: Gloucester Cathedral shares programme of events for Advent and Christmas 2023

Nothing says ‘Christmas’ quite like Gloucester Cathedral, and there’s something on offer for everyone this festive season

The Very Reverend Andrew Zihni, Dean of Gloucester, said:


“We are delighted to invite you to join us as we come together to celebrate the season of Advent and Christmas. From worship and choral music to beautiful decorations and family-friendly activities, there are so many opportunities to come and explore this sacred space. Whether you’re a regular visitor or have never been here before, you are most welcome.


At the centre of all this activity is, of course, the birth of Jesus Christ, the ultimate sign of God’s love for this world. Amidst all the excitement, gift-giving and celebration, let us ‘hear the angels sing’ and share in the peace, joy and love that Christ’s birth brings.”


Lorna Giles, Head of Visitor Experience at Gloucester Cathedral, added:


“Make memories to last a lifetime at Gloucester Cathedral this Christmas. Join us for a traditional carol service, wander through the sparkling Cloisters, take part in our new family trail or simply sit in the decorated Nave and take it all in. We are looking forward to seeing you at the most wonderful time of the year.”


Attend a service

The season will begin with the Advent Carol Service at 6pm on Sunday 3 December, a beautiful evening of traditional readings and choral music in candlelight. This will be followed by a number of other special services, including the much-loved Cathedral Carol Services on 22 and 23 December at 6pm, as well as the Family Crib Services on 23 and 24 December at 2.30pm, complete with plenty of well-known carols and festive cheer. At 11.15pm on Christmas Eve, the Cathedral invites you to join Midnight Mass, an atmospheric service that marks the very moment Christmas Day arrives. Then, on Christmas Day morning, all are warmly welcome to attend the Eucharist at 10.15am, a joyful service to celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ. No tickets are required to attend any of these services, but please note that seating will be allocated on a first-come, first served basis.


Listen to world-class choral music

There will be plenty of opportunities to listen to spectacular choral music this Advent and Christmas. This includes the Teenage Voices Project Concert on Thursday 30 November at 6pm (free admission with a retiring collection), as well as the Chorister Christmas Concert on Saturday 2 December at 11am (tickets cost £6 on the door). On Saturday 9 December, the hugely popular 'Carols on the Hour’ will be returning for another year. Between 11am-3.30pm, Cathedral musicians and friends will be performing choirs on the hour, every hour. All are warmly welcome – simply turn up and join in the fun with these bite-sized bursts of festive praise! The Cathedral’s Assistant Director of Music, Jonathan Hope, will also be giving his annual performance of Messiaen’s ‘La Nativité du Seigneur’ at 6.30pm on Sunday 17 December; admission is free, with a retiring collection.  


The Cathedral is pleased to be hosting a number of other concerts in partnership with organisations across the city, county and diocese – please visit the Cathedral website to find out more.


Wonder at the beautiful decorations, including after dark

From 9 December, the Cathedral building will be adorned with stunning decorations. Expect giant trees in the Nave and the Quire, as well as the return of the ‘Knitivity’ featuring lovable figures created by local community groups. The iconic Cloisters will also be decorated from top to bottom, with each area following a new theme for 2023. Come and see this remarkable spectacle any time within usual Cathedral opening hours for the ultimate festive day out.


On 9, 15, 16, 19, 20 and 21 December, visitors are invited to come and see these decorations after dark as part of ‘Cathedral Christmas Experience at Night’ events. Complete with live music performed by Cathedral musicians, and delicious festive refreshments provided by The Monk’s Kitchen, it promises to be an unforgettable evening for all the family. On selected dates, there will also be the opportunity to take part in a tour of the iconic Tower and see the city lit up at night, or the chance to step inside the hidden medieval Library. Find out more, and book tickets online, via the Cathedral website.


Take part in fun for all the family

For young – and young at heart – visitors, there will be a brand-new ‘Christ-mouse Family Trail’ running between 9 December and 7 January. Join the Cathedral mice (of the crochet variety!) as they tell the story of the very first Christmas, with a prize once you reach the end of the trail. On Saturday 16 December between 10.30am-3.30pm, ‘Christmas, Crafts and Carols’ will be taking place in the Cathedral’s Chapter House. This is a day of fun art and craft activities suitable for all ages, with the chance to sing along to Christmas carols too. Both the trail and ‘Christmas, Crafts and Carols’ are free to take part in with no booking required, but donations to the Cathedral are gratefully received.


Join a guided tour

Guided tours of this fascinating, 1000-year old building will be taking place throughout the festive season; Highlights and Crypt Tours happen daily (excluding 25 December) and tickets can be booked on the day via the Welcome Desk. On Saturday 9 December, to coincide with Carols on the Hour, visitors are invited to take part in Christmas-themed tour of the historic Library. Tours will take place at 10.45am, 11.45am, 1.45pm and 2.45pm, and tickets can be purchased via the Cathedral website or on the day subject to availability.


Complete your visit

Visit The Monk’s Kitchen to sample their range of festive fare. Throughout December they will be offering the ‘Nativi-tea’ which puts a seasonal twist on the traditional afternoon tea, complete with homemade mince pies and fudge alongside the all-important scones and sandwiches. The Nativi-tea costs £15.50 per person; please call 01452 689 755 to book. Meanwhile, the Cathedral Gift Shop will be stocking a wide range of unique, locally sourced produce that makes the perfect stocking filler.


Care for your community

Between Friday 1 December and Sunday 10 December, the Cathedral will be collecting items to support its Breakfast Club, which provides hot meals to those who are homeless and vulnerable in Gloucester. Please visit the Cathedral website to find the full list of items that can be dropped off at a collection point in the Nave.


Support the Cathedral’s musical heritage

It’s almost impossible to imagine Advent and Christmas without the beautiful sound of the Cathedral Choirs filling the building, and without the familiar tunes of our favourite carols. Earlier this year, the Cathedral launched its In Tune Organ and Music campaign to protect and secure its remarkable musical heritage, whilst breathing new life into its offering to ensure this art form can continue to be enjoyed by generations to come. To find out more about this campaign, including how to support it, please visit www.gloucestercathedral.org.uk/support





For more press information contact:

Ellie Fells

Marketing & Communications Manager at Gloucester Cathedral