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York Minster is preparing to mark Advent and Christmas with a range of beautiful breath-taking services and seasonal concerts for all the family.
From moments of quiet reflection to some of the cathedral’s most popular events of the year – the Minster’s special services, festive events, traditions and seasonal music celebrate the season’s themes of anticipation, hope and joy.
Advent starts on Sunday 27 November and will be marked by York Minster’s spectacular Advent Procession service which begins with the cathedral in complete darkness gradually illuminated by candlelight.
Other service highlights during Christmas Week will include Nine Lessons and Carols on 22 and 24 December and the Crib Service (24 December). The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, will preside at the Eucharist of Christmas Day at 11.00am on 25 December.
Free tickets will need to be booked in advance for some highlight services, with tickets released during November and December (see full details below).
The cathedral’s popular, annual Christmas Carol Concerts will return on 8 and 9 December and special screenings of family-favourite The Snowman, accompanied by a live orchestra, will take place on Saturday 10 December presented by Carrot Productions.
The second year of the York Minster Christmas Tree Festival will be staged inside the cathedral’s stunning Chapter House and Lady Chapel. Around 40 trees will be on display decorated to individual themes by local businesses, schools and charities. Visitors will be able to add their own Christmas message to a tag on the festival’s prayer trees. The first day of the festival (3 December), will be marked at 10.00am with a special session of Saturday Mornings at York Minster for children and families to celebrate the Christmas trees with craft activities and a short service.
Join Gabrieli Roar for ‘In Dulci Jubilo’ on Saturday 3 December, a Christmastide treat featuring the spectacular polychoral music of Michael Praetorius in belated celebration of the 400th anniversary of the great composer’s death. With a choir of young singers performing alongside Gabrieli’s world-class musicians, audiences and singers alike are sure to delight in this most exciting and flamboyant music of the early baroque.
On Saturday 17 December the Chapter House Choir will perform Carols by Candlelight. They will be joined by the Chapter House Youth Choir and there will be festive music performed by the Handbell Ringers of the Chapter House Choir.
The Acting Dean of York, The Revd Michael Smith, said: “Advent and Christmas lie at the heart of the Christian faith. It marks the start of the Church year and it is a time of reflection and anticipation as we prepare for the birth of Christ which we celebrate on Christmas Day. After a challenging and difficult year, the Christmas message of joy and hope will provide comfort for many.
“This year we will all be remembering the Christmas messages the late Queen used to share with us each year. In those messages she often spoke of her faith and reminded us that Christmas is all about Jesus who reveals how we can live life to the full and find hope even in times of darkness. As we remember her messages from the past we surround our new King with our love and prayers as his reign begins.
“There will be a very warm welcome for everyone visiting York Minster this Advent and Christmas whether in person or online for our livestream worship throughout the season.”
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 offering a range of bespoke gifts inspired by the cathedral alongside seasonal items including nativity sets and advent calendars and candles.
For full details of York Minster’s programme for Advent and Christmas see below or go to: www.yorkminster.org.
Evensong: Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata 140, Sleepers, wake
Sunday 20 November, 4.00pm
The Choir of York Minster gives its traditional annual performance of Bach’s popular Cantata 140, ‘Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme’ (Sleepers, wake), with orchestral accompaniment at Evensong for the Sunday before Advent.
No booking required. This service will also be livestreamed via www.yorkminster.org.
Sunday 27 November, 5.30pm
An atmospheric and breath-taking candlelit service with music by the Choir of York Minster, readings and prayers for Advent, in celebration and anticipation of the arrival of Jesus Christ, the Light of the World.
Free tickets must be booked in advance for this service. Tickets will be available from 10.00am on Monday 14 November via www.yorkminster.org or by calling our Box Office on 01904 557200. The service will also be livestreamed.
Sankta Lucia: Festival of Light
Friday 2 December, 7.30pm
In Sweden, Lucia is one of the most significant traditions in the calendar: a powerful symbol and celebration of light and an integral part of the Advent season. The celebration of Sankta Lucia is based on the bravery and martyrdom of a young Sicilian girl – St Lucy – who died in the early fourth century. Her name and story reached Sweden along with Christianity, and she remained popular even after the Reformation as the bringer of light during the long darkness of winter. In association with York Anglo-Scandinavian Society.
The York Minster Christmas Tree Festival
Saturday 3 December to Thursday 5 January
Open daily during general admission times
Experience the Minster’s Christmas Tree Festival in the stunning surroundings of the ancient Chapter House and Lady Chapel. Around 40 trees will be individually decorated by local businesses, schools and charities. Visitors can add their own Christmas message to a tag for the festival prayer trees. Entry is free with general admission.
Saturday Mornings at York Minster celebrates the Christmas Tree Festival
Saturday 3 December, 10.00am
The first day of the festival will be marked at 10.00am with a special event for children and families to celebrate the Christmas trees with craft activities and a short service.
In Dulci Jubilo: Praetorius & Schütz with Gabrieli Roar
Saturday 3 December, 7.30pm
Join Gabrieli Roar for ‘In Dulci Jubilo’, a Christmastide treat featuring the spectacular polychoral music of Michael Praetorius in belated celebration of the 400th anniversary of the great composer’s death. With a choir of young singers performing alongside Gabrieli’s world-class musicians, audiences and singers alike are sure to delight in this most exciting and flamboyant music of the early baroque.
Tickets will be available via www.yorkminster.org or by calling the Box Office on 01904 557200.
Christmas Carol Concerts
Thursday 8 and Friday 9 December, 7.00pm
York Minster’s popular Christmas Carol Concerts return this year offering the perfect start to the festive season. The Choir of York Minster, one of the UK’s leading cathedral choirs, will perform traditional and much loved Christmas music, with seasonal readings from a special guest and the chance for the audience to join in with carols.
Tickets for the popular concerts priced at £15 – £30 will go on sale at 10.00am on Tuesday 4 October via www.yorkminster.org or by calling our Box Office on 01904 557200.
The Snowman Tour
Saturday 10 December with performances at 2.30pm and 7.30pm
Make it a Christmas to remember with a special screening of family favourite The Snowman accompanied by a magnificent live orchestra. Presented by Carrot Productions, the world’s leading performers of The Snowman film with live orchestra, the performance will also include The Flight Before Christmas – the sensational new Shaun the Sheep film staged with live orchestra for the first time. For tickets go to: www.yorkminster.org
The Chapter House Choir: Carols by Candlelight
Saturday 17 December, 7.30pm
The Chapter House Choir will be joined by the Chapter House Youth Choir and there will be festive music performed by the Handbell Ringers of the Chapter House Choir.
Tickets will be available via www.yorkminster.org or by calling the Box Office on 01904 557200.
Christmas Week at York Minster
Nine Lessons and Carols
Thursday 22 December, 5.30pm and Saturday 24 December, 4.00pm
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.
Free tickets for both services must be booked in advance and will be available from 10.00am on Thursday 8 December via www.yorkminster.org or by calling our Box Office on 01904 557200.
The service on Saturday 24 December at 4:00pm will also be livestreamed via the Minster website.
Christmas Eve services, Saturday 24 December
Join York Minster’s worship for Christmas Eve at the cathedral or from the comfort of your home.
Christmas Day services, Sunday 25 December
Join York Minster’s worship for Christmas Day at the cathedral or from the comfort of your home.
The Eucharist for the Feast of the Epiphany
Friday 6 January 2023, 5.30pm
A special service to mark the Feast of the Epiphany. Epiphany means a ‘revelation’ and the feast day marks the arrival of the wise men, who, led by a star, find the infant Jesus and bow down before him in worship, offering gifts of gold, frankincense and myrrh. The service will be sung by the Chapter House Choir, an associate choir of York Minster. This service will also be livestreamed via yorkminster.org.
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