A Guide to Celebrate Christmas in St. Paul’s Cathedral, London

By Harshitha Jagathiesh

St. Paul’s Cathedral, situated in London, England, serves as the principal church of the Diocese of London and functions as the seat of the Bishop of London. 

Established in 604 AD, this Anglican cathedral is dedicated to Paul the Apostle. 

After the Great Fire of London, Sir Christopher Wren designed the current cathedral in the English Baroque style. 

Its renowned dome, one of the tallest globally, has graced the skyline for over 300 years, emerging as an iconic symbol recognized worldwide and representing national identity.

As Christmas approaches, St. Paul’s Cathedral transforms into a festive haven, where its historical significance converges with the season’s joyous celebrations. 

The cathedral’s architecture becomes even more enchanting as it hosts a series of special Christmas services, welcoming visitors to partake in the spirit of the holidays.

This article will provide all the information about Christmas in St. Paul’s Cathedral.

St. Paul’s Cathedral Christmas Timings

St Paul’s Cathedral is open from 8.30 am to 4.30 pm on regular days. 

During the Christmas week, St Paul’s Cathedral is open for sightseeing from 8.30 am to 5 pm. 

However, the cathedral is open for religious visitors from 7 am to 7 pm.

You can join the morning prayer, Eucharist, Choral Evensong or the unique Christmas Carols during this time.

On Christmas Eve, the St Paul’s Cathedral is open from 8 am to 1 am on December 25.

The cathedral reopens at 8 am on Christmas Day for celebrations and prayers.

While entry is usually free for religious visitors, they need to get tickets during the Christmas week.

Advent and Christmas service timings at St Paul’s Cathedral

The Advents and Christmas Carols begin by the end of November and lead to Christmas. 

It is free to attend the Advent and Christmas services. 

You need tickets to join the 4 pm Carol Services on 23rd and 24th December and also A Celebration of Christmas gathering. 

Here are the timings of all Advent services and events at St Paul’s Cathedral: 

Advent Carol Service2 and 3 Dec, 5.30  pm to 6.30 pm
Handel’s Messiah6 Dec, 6.30 pm to 9 pm
Maggie’s Carol Concert7 Dec, 7 pm to 8 pm
Sankta Lucia Carol Concert8 Dec, 7 pm to 8.30 pm
The Prince’s Trust Carol Concert12 Dec, 7 pm to 8 pm
A Celebration of Christmas16 Dec, 6.30 pm to 8 pm
Family Carols16 Dec, 11 am to 12 pm
Joy to the World 17 Dec, 3 pm to 4 pm
Messien’s La Nativite du Seigneur17 Dec, 5 pm to 6.15 pm
JDRF & The Royal Osteoporosis Society Carol Concert19 Dec, 5 pm to 6 pm
Britten’s Ceremony of Carols 21 Dec, 5 pm to 6 pm

If you are planning to visit before or after the Christmas week, St Paul’s Cathedral follows the regular opening hours.

Best time to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral during the Christmas

The best time to visit St. Paul’s Cathedral Church offers a beautiful experience for those seeking peace and spiritual connection. 

Attending services like Morning Prayer, Eucharist, and Choral Evensong throughout the week allows visitors to immerse themselves in the serene atmosphere. 

The church’s schedule, starting with Morning Prayer at 7.30 am, provides an excellent opportunity for a peaceful start to the day. 

Arriving early or attending the Choral Evensong in the late afternoon ensures a quieter ambiance, allowing you to explore the church at your own pace. 

The Sundays offer a rich experience with Holy Communion, Mattins, Sung Eucharist, and Choral Evensong. 

Best Times:

  • Mornings (Monday to Saturday): Attend Morning Prayer at 7.30 am for a serene start.

  • Late Afternoons (Monday to Saturday): Join the Choral Evensong at 5 pm for a reflective experience.

  • Sundays: Explore the rich schedule, including Holy Communion, Mattins, Sung Eucharist, and Choral Evensong.

St. Paul’s Cathedral Christmas tickets

Entry to St Paul’s Cathedral during the Christmas mass is free. 

However, you need tickets to explore the cathedral or attend certain services. 

You can buy the St. Paul’s Cathedral Entry Ticket to secure access to the church during Christmas.

Your entry ticket grants access to the crypt, galleries, and cathedral floor

You will also get a multilingual multimedia guide for a more enriched experience of the Cathedral.

You can choose to participate in seminars and guided tours.

Please note that limited spaces are available, and registration is required upon arrival).

The ticket prices are £21 for adults.

Waiting time for St. Paul’s Cathedral during Christmas

In off-season time, the wait time for entry to St. Paul’s Cathedral generally falls within a manageable range of thirty minutes to an hour. 

However, this scenario undergoes a significant transformation during peak periods such as Christmas. 

The wait extends to at least an hour due to the festive rush, intensifying the crowd and potential inconvenience. 

In addition to the general wait, visitors must navigate through security checkpoints, adding to the overall waiting time.

Opting for the skip the line ticket at St. Paul’s Cathedral is wise. 

While it doesn’t eliminate all queues, it efficiently allows you to bypass at least the initial lines, facilitating a more rapid navigation process. 

This strategic decision ensures a more time-efficient and enjoyable experience, particularly amid the vibrant Christmas atmosphere at St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Tips to avoid crowds in St. Paul’s Cathedral during Christmas

Here are some tips to keep in mind while exploring St. Paul’s Cathedral during Christmas:

Book Tickets in Advance

Ensure a hassle-free experience by booking skip-the-line tickets online in advance. 

This saves time and allows for better itinerary planning, giving you more time to explore.

Booking tickets online gives you good discounts and keeps the hassle of long queues away.

Arrive Early or Late

To savor a peaceful visit, plan to arrive early in the morning or later in the evening. 

This strategic timing helps you avoid the usual rush and ensures a more pleasant experience.

Avoid Peak Days

Choose to visit a day or two before or after Christmas to escape the larger crowds often present on Christmas Day and the immediate days following.

Opt for Mid-Week Visits

Weekdays, especially those not close to Christmas or New Year’s Eve, offer a quieter experience than weekends.

Consider Off-Peak Hours

Explore St. Paul’s Cathedral during less busy times, such as early afternoon or late evening, for a more relaxed visit with fewer people.

Fast-Track or Guided Tours

Maximize your time and ease your visit by opting for a Fast-Track entry.

These options often provide quicker access and a smoother experience during the bustling holiday season.

Check Special Events

Be aware of any special events or ceremonies at St. Paul’s Cathedral during Christmas, and plan your visit for a more peaceful experience.

Take a Guided Tour

Enhance your experience by considering a guided tour. 

Knowledgeable guides can offer insights into the cathedral’s history, architecture, and notable features. 

If self-guided, use the audio guide included with the entry ticket.

Photography Guidelines

Capture memories responsibly by following photography guidelines. 

While photography is generally allowed, avoid using flash, be respectful of other visitors, and adhere to any designated no-photography zones.

Top things to do in St. Paul’s Cathedral During Christmas

Discover the joy of Christmas at St. Paul’s Cathedral with its lineup of events during the Christmas month.

Attend the Advent Carol Service for a festive start. 

Be part of The Prince’s Trust Carol Concert for an unforgettable evening. Join free events like A Celebration of Christmas, Family Carols, Joy to the World, and Messiaen’s La Nativite du Seigneur. 

Contribute to a cause at JDRF and The Royal Osteoporosis Society Carol Concert. 

Here’s a detailed list of the events at the St. Paul’s Cathedral with it’s timing and tickets:

Advent Carol Service2nd December 20235.30 pm – 6.30 pmFree and unticketed
Advent Carol Service3rd December 20235.30 pm – 6.30 pmFree and unticketed
Handel’s Messiah 6th December 20236.30 pm – 9 pmPaid ticket
Maggie’s Carol Concert7th December 20237 pm – 8 pmPaid ticket
Sankta Lucia Carol Concert8th December 20237 pm – 8.30 pmPaid ticket
The Prince’s Trust Carol Concert12th December 20237 pm – 8 pmPaid ticket
A Celebration of Christmas14th December 20236.30 pm – 8 pmFree with a ticket
Family Carols16th December 202311 am -12 pmFree and unticketed
Joy to the World17th December 20233 pm – 4 pmFree and unticketed
Messiaen’s La Nativite du Seigneur (Free and unticketed)17th December 20235 pm – 6:1keep 5 pmFree and unticketed
JDRF and The Royal Osteoporosis Society Carol Concert (Paid ticket)19th December 20237 pm – 8 pmPaid ticket
Britten’s Ceremony of Carols (Free and unticketed)21st December 20235 pm – 6 pmFree and unticketed

What to wear to St. Paul’s Cathedral during Christmas

When attending Christmas services or exploring St. Paul’s Cathedral, adhering to a respectful dress code ensures a meaningful experience. 

Opt for a modest look for both men and women. 

Men are suggested to wear suits or dress shirts with trousers, while women are encouraged to choose modest dresses, skirts, or pantsuits with shoulders covered. 

Avoid casual attire such as jeans and sneakers. 

Respecting the solemnity of the cathedral, refrain from clothing with offensive slogans or graphics, and choose comfortable yet appropriate footwear. 

If visiting as a tourist, maintain a neat appearance with covered shoulders and knees.

Avoid excessively casual or revealing clothing to uphold the sacred ambiance of the space.

Things to do in London during Christmas

Here are some exciting things to do in London during Christmas besides visiting St. Paul’s Cathedral.

Celebrate Christmas Eve at Westminster Abbey

Historic Westminster Abbey is an iconic venue for royal weddings, coronation ceremonies, and enchanting midnight mass celebrations. 

With a rich history spanning a millennium, attending the Christmas Eve service at this renowned London church is a must for every traveler.

Harmonize at the Royal Albert Hall Carol Concert

Experience one of London’s premier Christmas events at the Royal Albert Hall. 

This majestic venue comes alive with beautiful carol-singing concerts during the festive season. 

Join voices with some of the country’s best singers in a memorable experience that has seen performances by artists like Adele, Enrique, and Justin Timberlake.

Wander around the Winter Wonderland at Hyde Park

Don’t miss the festive extravaganza at Hyde Park’s Winter Wonderland, a Christmas fair that surpasses your wildest fantasies. 

From exhilarating rides and delectable food stalls to fascinating games, a visit to Winter Wonderland is an essential part of the Christmas experience in London.

Party at Blues Kitchen for the Ultimate Christmas Celebration

Spread across Brixton, Camden, and Shoreditch, Blues Kitchen is London’s ultimate Christmas party venue. 

Be it a traditional lunch, hitting the dance floor, or enjoying casual drinks with friends, Blues Kitchen offers the perfect setting to share the joy of the festive season. 

Be sure to book in advance for an unforgettable Christmas celebration.

Sip Mulled Wine in Thames-Side Igloos at Coppa Club

Experience the trendy dining trend of igloo dining at Coppa Club, where heated spaces with romantic lighting provide stunning views of Tower Bridge. 

Sip on mulled wine, a favorite holiday beverage, while enjoying the cozy ambiance. 

Order delicious food to complete the enchanting experience by the Thames.

Welcome the New Year at Primrose Hill

For a spectacular view of the New Year’s Eve fireworks, head to Primrose Hill. 

While tickets for the riverfront display are sold out, Primrose Hill offers a free and breathtaking vantage point. 

Accessible from Chalk Farm, Camden Town, Mornington Crescent, or St John’s Wood, it’s the perfect spot to ring in the New Year.

Explore London’s Diverse Christmas Markets

Beyond Winter Wonderland, explore the festive chalets by the riverside at London Bridge.

Here, you can discover the charm of Greenwich Market or visit Leicester Square for a Santa’s Grotto experience. 

Foodies will feel at home at the Real Food Christmas Market at King’s Cross, offering a delightful array of culinary delights.

Step into Christmas Past at the Charles Dickens Museum

Delve into the history of Christmas in the UK at the Charles Dickens Museum, the former home of the Victorian author. 

Explore yuletide traditions, discover the inspiration behind “A Christmas Carol,” and attend performances of this and other Christmas ghost stories. 

With tickets starting at £7.50, this museum offers a fascinating journey into the festive past.

FAQs about Christmas at St Paul’s Cathedral 

1. Is the St. Paul’s Cathedral Christmas mass open to the public?

Yes, the Christmas mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral is open to the public, welcoming individuals to participate in the festive celebrations.

They also have a lineup of events, so check that before planning your visit.

2. Why do I need to book tickets for the Christmas mass in advance?

For certain services, especially the more popular ones, booking tickets in advance is advisable due to the rush hours and crowds. 

However, many services, including some on Christmas Day, are free and unticketed.

3. Are there specific dress code requirements for attending the Christmas mass?

While there is no strict dress code, visitors are encouraged to dress modestly and respectfully, especially if attending a service. 

Avoiding excessively casual or revealing attire is recommended.

4. Can I take photographs during the Christmas mass at St. Paul’s Cathedral?

Photography is generally allowed in most areas, but respecting the sacred space and other attendees is essential. 

Flash usage should be avoided, and certain areas may have restrictions.

5. Are there additional Christmas events or concerts at St. Paul’s Cathedral?

St. Paul’s Cathedral hosts various Christmas events, including concerts, carol services, and special liturgies. 

Check the schedule for a comprehensive list of festive activities.

6. Is parking available for attendees during the Christmas mass?

St. Paul’s Cathedral is located in the heart of London, and parking is limited nearby. There are free parking and paid parking options, which are subject to availability. 

You can either arrive early or use Public transportation as the cathedral is easily accessible by bus and tube.

Featured Image: European Christmas markets Stock photos by Vecteezy

About the author

Harshitha’s heart lies where greeny mountains meet stretches of beach. She believes getting lost is the best way to explore