Christmas at Salisbury Cathedral

With over 800 years of history, you are guaranteed an authentic, traditional Christmas at Salisbury Cathedral this year. 

Whether you want wonderful Christmas services, delicious Christmas dinners, a Christmouse trail for children, a 34ft Christmas Tree or present ideas, our Cathedral has everything you need to feel the festive joy. 

Here are the not to be missed events: 

Darkness to Light 

Heralding the festive season, the three Darkness to Light services mark the start of Advent. Each service begins in total darkness and silence, broken by a lone voice and the lighting of a single candle. Gradually the spectacle builds as the choir and processions make their way around the Cathedral, singing and lighting candles as they go, until the building is illuminated end-to-end by 1300 candles. 

Darkness to Light takes place at 7pm on Friday 26th and Saturday 27th November and 5pm on Sunday 28th November. Services are free but you must book a ticket in order to manage capacity, which is reduced due to Covid safety measures.  

Places can be booked from Monday 15th November via the Cathedral website. This is a very popular event and tickets are expected to go very quickly.  

Darkness to Light at Salisbury Cathedral 2019

The Snowman 

On Friday 3rd December there will be three performances of the popular Snowman with ‘live’ orchestra at 2pm, 4pm and 7pm. It’s a double bill with The Nutcracker Suite, complete with an exclusive big screen animation. Fantastic musicians, great stories and a fun evening for all ages. The Refectory and Shop will be open until 7pm for pre and post-show refreshments. It’s also an ideal time to do some late-night Christmas shopping! 

Choral Evensong 

The following Sunday, 5th December the new Chorister Bishop will be installed during a special Choral Evensong at 4.30pm This ancient tradition harks back to medieval times, when a chorister would be elected and hold office from St Nicholas Day until Holy Innocents Day at the end of December. Nowadays their tenure is far shorter, lasting only the length of the service during which Chorister Bishop takes over from the real Bishop, assuming the robes of office, leading the prayers and even delivering a sermon.  

Giant Christmas tree & spectacular hanging nativity 

In the week starting Monday 6th December, the huge Christmas tree from Longleat’s sustainable forest goes up at the West End of the Cathedral building. It will be followed by the installation of the Cathedral’s beautiful renaissance style Nativity scene - three 10ft by 35ft voile panels that feature members of the Cathedral congregations, staff and community as characters in the Christmas story. The Nativity will hang 50ft above the Spire Crossing.  


Salisbury Cathedral giant Christmas tree and nativity 2020

Christmas music  

There are few better ways to prepare for Christmas than to go to a performance of Handel’s Messiah sung by the full Cathedral Choir accompanied by the City of London Sinfonia, which is celebrating its 50th anniversary this year.   

The line-up of soloists for the concert on Saturday 11th December at 7pm is impressive. Soprano Soraya Mafi has been described as “all crystalline tone and spine-tingling high notes”; alto Robin Blaze is a Handel specialist and has given recitals all over the world; Sam Furness, was dubbed a “a lyric tenor clearly going places” - what a line-up! 

Tickets are available now. Anyone wishing to book a 5.30pm pre-concert dinner in the Refectory should contact the manager Paul Jackson on refectory@salcath.co.uk or 01722 555175 

Handel's Messiah at Salisbury Cathedral 2018

Festive Opening Evening 

There’s a late night Festive Open Evening on Wednesday 15th December, perfect opportunity to pick up some presents for loved ones. It will run from 6.30pm to 9pm. Enjoy seasonal music provided by the Kate Edgar choir, wander around the Cathedral after dark, and pop into the Refectory or Cathedral Shop for a bite to eat or a spot of retail therapy. Everything is open except the Chapter House and most exciting of all, the Cathedral’s newly commissioned, child-friendly wooden Nativity figures, made by local artist Ray Wirick, will be unveiled and blessed. Children can ‘meet’ the Holy Family and play with a small flock of ‘sit on’ sheep. No booking is required, just drop in and have a good time. 


The Cathedral’s two Carols by Candlelight services on Wednesday 22nd and Thursday 23rd December at 7pm are free but ticketed in order to manage capacity, which is reduced due to Covid safety measures. Places can be booked via the Cathedral from 1st December. If you have any queries contact the Vestry on 01722 555150. 

On Christmas Eve, there is a Christmas Service for Families at 3.30pm - plenty of fun and lots of singing.  

Christmas Choral Evensong is at 5.30pm and Midnight Mass, or The First Eucharist of Christmas begins at 11pm. 

Christmouse time! 

From Thursday 9th December until Tuesday 1st February 2022 a Christmouse trail for kids is available to help keep the children entertained over the festive period. There will also Christmas Craft Activities for Families in the South Transept on Monday 20th December 10am to 2.30pm. 

As well as all this, out in the Close the trees will be decked out with fairy lights and the Christmas Tree Trail will begin near the Bell Tower Tea Rooms (from 19h November). There really is something for everyone at Salisbury Cathedral this Christmas!  

Salisbury Cathedral Christmas tree trail 2020

Whatever you are looking for this Christmas, you can find it on the Experience Salisbury What’s On pages.  

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