Christmas in Westminster Abbey: A Guide to Merryful Time in London

By Harshitha Jagathiesh

For those in London in December, partake in the Christmas services hosted at the iconic Westminster Abbey. 

The recently announced dates reveal that these services, free of charge and requiring no prior booking, commence from the 2nd of December and extend throughout Christmas. 

This marks a unique and enriching experience within the grandeur of one of the world’s renowned churches.

Steeped in history, Westminster Abbey has served as the Coronation church for British monarchs since 1066, hosting an impressive thirty-eight coronations. 

It has witnessed sixteen royal weddings and is the final resting place for former monarchs and esteemed individuals. 

The present-day structure, approximately 700 years old, is owned by the British royal family and overseen by the Dean and Chapter on behalf of the Queen.

This article provides essential insights into the Christmas mass timings at Westminster Abbey and valuable tips on navigating the crowds.

Westminster Abbey Christmas timings

Westminster Abbey Christmas timings
Image: Bbc.co.uk

On regular days during weekends, Westminster Abbey is open from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm.

During the week leading to Christmas (December 17 to 23), Westminster Abbey is open from 9.30 am to 5 pm. 

Westminster Abbey is only open for worshipers on Sundays. 

Westminster Abbey, a functioning church, invites the public to attend daily services during the Christmas Week. 

Service of Lessons and Carols happens from 4 pm to 5 pm on 23rd nd 24th December. 

You can attend the First Eucharist of Christmas Night from 11 pm on 24th December to 12.30 am on 25th December. 

On Christmas Day, Westminster Abbey is open from 8 am to 4 pm, where you can join the Holy Communion, Christmas Day Sun Eucharist and Evensong. 

The Abbey has specific service timings throughout the week during Christmas.

At the church, the Morning Prayer is at 7.30 am, Holy Communion at 8 am, and the Evening Prayer at 5 pm.

The cathedral is closed for sightseeing on Christmas. 

If you are planning to visit before or after the Christmas week, then follow the regular visiting hours. 

Visitors should adhere to a dress code and recognize that these services are religious observances, not tourist attractions.

Best time to visit Westminster Abbey during the Christmas

The best time to visit Westminster Abbey during Christmas offers a unique and enchanting experience. 

Attending the special Christmas services, including Morning Prayer, Holy Communion, and Evensong, provides visitors with a spiritually uplifting environment.

The Abbey’s Christmas services are held at specific intervals, with Morning Prayer and Holy Communion starting at 8 am and Evensong at 3 pm.

Planning a visit earlier in the day is recommended for a serene and festive atmosphere, aligning with the Abbey’s Christmas service schedule. 

Arriving early allows visitors to avoid larger crowds and appreciate the spiritual ambiance and architectural grandeur of Westminster Abbey in a more intimate setting. 

Those arriving later in the evening can witness the Abbey adorned with festive decorations, creating a magical and heartwarming atmosphere.

During the Christmas week, especially in the days leading up to and after Christmas day, Westminster Abbey experiences increased foot traffic as visitors and locals come together to embrace the holiday ambiance. 

This week presents a unique opportunity to explore the Abbey, adorned with festive decorations, and enjoy a comprehensive Christmas experience.

Westminster Abbey Christmas tickets

There are several ticket options available for Westminster Abbey Christmas.

The basic entry to Westminster Abbey tickets cost £27.

Your ticket to Westminster Abbey lets you discover its fascinating history. Learn about important events like coronations and royal marriages that happened here. 

Witness the impressive architecture and this place’s role in various ceremonies. 

Walk through Poets’ Corner, where famous people from different fields are buried. 

Your entry ticket is your key to uncovering the rich heritage of Westminster Abbey.

If you wish to have a more detailed and informative experience of Westminster Abbey, you can choose the Westminster Abbey Guided Tour ticket.

Here are a range of tickets that you can choose from when you’re visiting Westminster Abbey:

TicketCostBuy Ticket
Westminster Abbey Entry ticketFrom £27Buy This Ticket
Westminster Abbey guided tourFrom £65Buy This Ticket
Westminster Abbey and St Paul’s CathedralFrom £45Buy This Ticket
Westminster Abbey and afternoon teaFrom £125Buy This Ticket
Westminster Abbey and House of Parliament guided tourFrom £131Buy This Ticket
London PassFrom £90Buy This Ticket
Go City London Explorer PassFrom £47Buy This Ticket

Waiting time for Westminster Abbey during Christmas

Waiting time for Westminster Abbey during Christmas
Image: Mylondon.news

During regular times, waiting to enter Westminster Abbey usually takes about thirty minutes to an hour, making it quite manageable.

However, things change significantly during peak periods like Christmas. 

The wait is at least an hour due to the festive rush, which adds to the crowd and potential inconvenience. 

Besides the general wait, visitors must also pass through security checkpoints, contributing to the overall waiting time.

Choosing the skip the line ticket at Westminster Abbey can be smart. 

While it won’t eliminate all queues, it efficiently lets you bypass at least the initial lines, allowing for swifter navigation. 

This smart choice ensures a more time-efficient and enjoyable experience, especially during the bustling Christmas atmosphere at Westminster Abbey.

Tips to avoid crowds in Westminster Abbey during Christmas

Here are some tips to avoid crowds in Westminster Abbey during Christmas:

Book Tickets in Advance

For a seamless visit to Westminster Abbey, secure skip-the-line tickets online in advance to avoid lengthy queues. 

This saves time and allows you to select a convenient tour time, optimizing your itinerary. 

By circumventing queues, you can maximize your Abbey experience and allocate extra time for exploring nearby attractions. 

Online booking offers the advantage of securing the best prices and providing insights into what to expect during your visit.

Arrive Early or Late

To enjoy a peaceful visit to Westminster Abbey during Christmas, plan to go early or later in the evening. 

This way, you can avoid the hustle and bustle, making your experience more pleasant.

Avoid Peak Days

Christmas Day and the days right after can be pretty busy. 

Consider going a day or two before or after Christmas to avoid the big crowds.

Mid-Week Visits

To dodge larger crowds, especially during the festive season, aim for a visit in the middle of the week instead of on weekends. 

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

Consider Off-Peak Hours

Think about visiting Westminster Abbey during the Christmas celebrations during less busy times, like early afternoon or late evening. 

This can make your visit more relaxed with fewer people around.

Fast-Track or Guided Tours

Save time and avoid hassle by choosing a Fast-Track entry or a guided tour

These options often let you skip long lines, ensuring a smoother visit during the busy holiday season.

Check Special Events

Watch for any special Christmas events or ceremonies at Westminster Abbey. 

Planning your visit to avoid these events can make your experience more peaceful.

Weather Considerations

Check the weather forecast for your chosen day. 

Fewer people might visit if the weather is not great, giving you a quieter atmosphere.

Explore Surrounding Areas

If Westminster Abbey is crowded, take the chance to explore nearby places. 

Return to the abbey when it’s less busy for a more relaxed experience.

Top things to do in Westminster Abbey During Christmas

Westminster Abbey offers a festive lineup during Christmas.

This includes an Advent Liturgy on December 3rd and the First Eucharist of Christmas night on December 24th.

You can also enjoy the Service of Lessons and Carols on December 23rd and 24th. 

Christmas Day features Holy Communion, Sung Eucharist (booking required), and Christmas Day Evensong.

Here’s a detailed list of events and things you can do in Westminster Abbey during Christmas:

Event DescriptionDateTime
Advent Liturgy3rd Dec4 pm to 5 pm
First Eucharist of Christmas night24th Dec11 pm to 12.30 am
Service of Lessons and Carols23rd and 24th Dec4 pm to 5 pm
Christmas Day Holy Communion25th Dec8 am to 8.40 am
Christmas Day Sung Eucharist25th Dec 10.30 am to 11.30 am
Christmas Day Evensong25th Dec 3 pm to 4 pm

What to wear to Westminster Abbey during Christmas

The dress code at Westminster Abbey is relatively relaxed for general sightseeing, exploration, or attending nonspecific events.

While casual attire like jeans, trousers, or skirts paired with a comfortable top or shirt is acceptable, it’s crucial to dress respectfully. 

Opt for modest clothing that covers your shoulders and knees, reflecting reverence for the sacred space. 

Men should avoid wearing shorts or sandals.

Simple footwear, such as comfortable walking shoes or sneakers, is recommended for ease as you explore the Abbey. 

Reserve high heels or dress shoes for special occasions, ensuring a comfortable and respectful visit to Westminster Abbey.

Things to do in London during Christmas

Here are some fun and relaxed things to do in London during Christmas:

Explore Kew Gardens in Christmas Glory.

Discover the magic of Kew Gardens during Christmas, a year-round spectacle adorned with seasonal color, rich heritage, and innovative conservation efforts. 

Embrace the festive ambiance as sparkling tunnels, dancing lakeside reflections, and vibrant jewel-like colors transform the garden into a mesmerizing winter wonderland. 

The visit to Kew Gardens promises a unique experience, providing a fresh perspective on this botanical marvel.

Ice Skating at The Queen’s House

Ice Skating at The Queen’s House
Image: Rmg.co.uk

Indulge in the quintessential winter ice skating activity at The Queen’s House

This experience has become an essential tradition for both locals and tourists. 

This enchanting ice rink, considered one of the best in London, offers panoramic views of Greenwich Park to the south and the glittering lights of Canary Wharf to the north.

Enjoy a Pub Lunch by the Fire

Embrace the season’s warmth with a delightful pub lunch in a traditional British setting. 

Choose from renowned establishments like Hampstead Heath’s The Holly Bush, the Cutty Sark Tavern, or The Churchill Arms, each offering a cozy ambiance with a roaring fire, mulled wine, and delectable food. 

These venues provide the perfect setting for a relaxed and festive meal.

Get Tickets for The Nutcracker

Delve into the enchanting world of The Nutcracker by securing tickets in advance for performances at the London Coliseum or the Royal Opera House. 

Whether you’re a ballet fan or a newcomer, the exquisite sets, ethereal choreography, and Tchaikovsky’s iconic score promise an enchanting experience during the Christmas season.

Indulge in Time-Honored Tradition with Afternoon Tea

Witness the timeless tradition of afternoon tea at esteemed venues like The Ritz, Fortnum & Mason’s Diamond Jubilee Tea Salon, and Harrods. 

Witness these establishments elevate their offerings with festive twists on classic treats. 

Visit London’s Stately Homes

Discover the grandeur of London’s stately homes during Christmas, with a special recommendation for Waddesdon Manor. 

Witness the beautifully decorated rooms in the East Wing, explore Christmas Fairs, and stroll along illuminated garden trails adorned with spell-binding projections by celebrated artist Jamie Shiels. 

Each stately home promises a unique blend of history and festive splendor.

Take a Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride through Richmond Park

Add a touch of romance to your Christmas festivities with a 60-minute carriage journey through Richmond Park. 

Indulge in mince pies and mulled wine while traversing the sprawling landscapes of one of London’s iconic parks. 

The experience culminates with a visit to the Stables, providing a quintessentially romantic Christmas adventure.

Experience Hogwarts in the Snow

Experience Hogwarts in the Snow
Image: Timeout.com

For fans of the wizarding world, the Warner Bros Studio Tour becomes a magical destination during Christmas. 

Witness the enchanting transformation with the Great Hall dressed for the Yule Ball, the Gryffindor Common Room prepared for the festivities, and snowy landscapes gracing the Forbidden Forest, Diagon Alley, and Hogwarts. 

The winter makeover adds a layer of wonder to this popular tourist destination during the holiday season.

FAQs on Christmas at Westminster Abbey

1. What Christmas services are held at Westminster Abbey?

Christmas services at Westminster Abbey include Advent Liturgy, First Eucharist on Christmas night, Service of Lessons and Carols, Christmas Day Holy Communion, Sung Eucharist, and Evensong.

2. Do I need to book tickets for Christmas services?

Booking is required for specific events like Christmas Day Sung Eucharist.

3. Are there any free Christmas services?

Services like Christmas Day, Holy Communion, and Evensong are free.

4. Can I attend the First Eucharist on Christmas night for free?

Yes, but booking is required for this event.

5. What other Christmas activities are available at Westminster Abbey?

Explore festive displays, enjoy Christmas lights, and experience the magical atmosphere.

6. Are there special Christmas events for families?

Families can attend Christmas services together and explore the illuminated garden trail.

7. Are there any restrictions or dress codes for Christmas services?

While dress codes are more relaxed, visitors are advised to dress respectfully for the religious ceremonies.

Featured Image: Christmas service Stock photos by Vecteezy

Harshita
About the author

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