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Celebrate Advent and Christmas at York Minster with traditional festive services, much-loved seasonal music and concerts, a festival of Christmas trees, a new production of The Nutcracker for families and a concert by Ian Anderson’s legendary Jethro Tull.
The season begins on Advent Sunday (3 December), with the spectacular Advent Procession service. Starting in complete darkness, the cathedral is gradually illuminated by candlelight as the Choir of York Minster moves through the building to readings from the Old Testament, setting the scene for the Christmas story. Daily worship and Evensong services throughout Advent and Christmas will include prayers, music and readings for the season.
Christmas week worship includes the Crib Service (23 December), Nine Lessons and Carols (23 and 24 December) and Midnight Mass (24 December). The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, will preside at the Eucharist of Christmas Day at 11am (25 December).
The ever-popular annual Christmas Carol Concerts will take place on 7 and 8 December, with readings by actor David Bradley (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones), and music by the Choir of York Minster and the Yorkshire Volunteer Band.
On Saturday 9 December, York Minster will present a magical new performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Children (and adults alike) will love the narration by local children’s actor Gemma Sharp (Artistic Director of local theatre company Hoglets), and the artistry of Benjamin Morris, York Minster’s Assistant Director of Music, who will bring Tchaikovsky’s music to life on the cathedral’s spectacular Grand Organ.
York Minster will host a unique musical experience on Saturday 18 December, when folk rock legend Ian Anderson presents Christmas with Jethro Tull in the Minster’s stunning Nave. He performs in cathedrals across the country each year, donating the ticket sales to the care and conservation of the cathedral buildings.
From 2 December (until 5 January 2024), York Minster’s Christmas Tree festival returns with 60 trees, individually decorated by local businesses, schools and charities on display in the Chapter House, the Nave and the Lady Chapel.
York Minster’s Advent and Christmas programme is set out below. For booking information visit www.yorkminster.org or call our Bookings Office on 01904 557200.
York Minster’s Advent and Christmas Programme 2023
Evensong – Sunday 26 November, 4pm
Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata 140, Sleepers, wake
On the Sunday before Advent, the Choir of York Minster gives its traditional annual Evensong performance of Bach’s popular Cantata 140, ‘Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme’ (Sleepers, wake), with orchestral accompaniment.
York Minster Christmas Tree Festival – Saturday 2 December – Friday 5 January during general admission times
York Minster Christmas Tree Festival returns for the third year with 60 trees on display in the cathedral’s stunning Nave, Chapter House and Lady Chapel.
Advent Procession – Sunday 3 December, 5.30pm. Free, pre-booked tickets required.
On Advent Sunday, York Minster gradually emerges from darkness into full candlelight in the stunning and atmospheric Advent Procession. The Choir of York Minster will process through the cathedral to music, readings and prayers.
Christmas Carol Concerts – Thursday 7 and Friday 8 December, 7pm
The Choir of York Minster will perform much-loved Christmas music, with seasonal readings from special guest David Bradley and music by the Yorkshire Volunteer Band.
The Nutcracker at York Minster – Saturday 9 December
First performance 2pm – 3pm
Second performance 7pm – 8pm
A magical new performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker from York Minster for children and adults alike. Narration by local children’s actor Gemma Sharp (Artistic Director of local theatre company Hoglets), and music by Benjamin Morris, York Minster’s Assistant Director of Music, who will bring Tchaikovsky’s music to life on the cathedral’s spectacular Grand Organ.
Sankta Lucia: Festival of Light – Monday 11 December, 7.30pm
An atmospheric, candlelit procession and carol service based on the traditional Swedish Lucia celebration. The service is run in partnership with the York Anglo-Scandinavian Society.
Chapter House Choir ‘Carols by Candlelight’ – Saturday 16 December, 7.30pm
The choir continues to build on its reputation as one of the North of England’s finest chamber choirs, under the leadership of Musical Director Benjamin Morris. The Chapter House Choir will be joined by the Chapter House Youth Choir.
Ian Anderson presents ‘Christmas with Jethro Tull’ – Monday 18 December, 7.30pm.
Experience folk-rock legend Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull in the awe-inspiring setting of York Minster this Christmas. Hear some of the best-known repertoire of Jethro Tull alongside traditional seasonal church and classical music for a moment of pre-Christmas madness, goodness and togetherness.
Crib Service – Saturday 23 December, 11.30am. Free, pre-booked tickets required.
The Christmas story in a fun and accessible service for families with carols and musical accompaniment. Children are encouraged to dress up as characters from the Nativity and there will be a chance to see the crib.
Nine Lessons and Carols
Saturday 23 December and Sunday 24 December, 4pm. Free, pre-booked tickets required.
Two services consisting of nine special readings, carols sung by the Choir of York Minster and hymns for everyone to join in. A traditional Christmas celebration of the birth of Jesus Christ.
Midnight Mass – Sunday 24 December, 11.30pm
Experience the First Eucharist of Christmas with Communion, Blessing of the Crib and choral music sung by the St William’s Singers.
Christmas Day services – Monday 25 December
York Minster celebrates the arrival of Jesus Christ, light of the world.
8am: Holy Communion from the Book of Common Prayer
10am: Choral Matins sung by the Choir of York Minster
11am: Sung Eucharist sung by the Choir of York Minster, with sermon by the Archbishop of York.
4pm: Choral Evensong sung by the Choir of York Minster.
New Year’s Eve bells – Sunday 31 December
York Minster’s Bellringers will ring in the new year as the clock strikes midnight.
The Eucharist for the Feast of the Epiphany – Saturday 6 January 2024, 5.30pm
A special service to mark the Feast of the Epiphany with music by St Peter’s Cathedral Choir, Adelaide, Australia.
York Minster will be open for sightseeing throughout November and December but may need to close from time to time for services and events – please check the website for opening times and to book admission tickets.
The Minster Shops inside the cathedral and at 9 Minster Gates will also be open daily from 9.30am – 5pm offering a range of bespoke gifts inspired by the cathedral alongside seasonal items including nativity sets and advent calendars and candles.
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