Where and when to go to catch the best festive traditional tunes
There’s a huge selection of carol concerts and services in and around Cambridge and Edition has a few of the festive highlights. Often the target of the serious carol service devotee, A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols at King’s College on Christmas Eve is one you simply must queue for. Broadcast live on Radio 4, and on 300 stations in the United States alone, the event, which began in 1918, is extremely popular.
The queue regularly starts to form the day before and is admitted to college grounds at 7.30am on the day, and into the chapel for the 3pm service at 1.30pm. According to the college website, they’ll ensure you do not queue for a place that doesn’t exist and in most recent years, those who queue by 9am get in. There is a retiring collection.
On 11 December at 7pm Great St Mary’s Church hosts a carol concert featuring six local schools’ choirs and the Vox Pop singers. The event will raise funds for The Cambridge Homeless Project and Arthur Rank Hospice. Tickets £10, under-18s £5.
At Ely Cathedral the Advent Procession with Carols on 3 December at 6pm, begins in darkness before candles are gradually lit. On 10 December, at 5.15pm, the Big Christmas Tree Light Switch-on Service is designed for young children and families, complete with fairy dust. And the cathedral’s Hark! The Herald carol concert is at 7.30pm on 22 December, with tickets from £10.
A free event, with donations appreciated, is at the much smaller 12th-century Leper Chapel, on Newmarket Road. Carols by candlelight will feature Cottenham Brass Band on 17 December at 6.30pm, and mince pies and mulled wine will be served.
Cambridge Early Music presents Clare Wilkinson and her group Courtiers of Grace at Trinity College Chapel on 15 December at 7.30pm, when they commemorate the 500th anniversary of Luther’s Ninety-Five Theses with music and readings. Tickets £23, under-16s free.
And St John’s College hosts a Carol concert, in aid of Alzheimer’s Society, on 15 December, at 6.30pm, tickets £13, £6 for children nine and under.