Westminster Abbey Easter Services and Holy Week

By Harshitha Jagathiesh

Easter at Westminster Abbey is a spectacle of faith, tradition, and history that captivates both the heart and the soul. 

Nestled in the heart of London, this architectural masterpiece has borne witness to over a thousand years of Britain’s history.

It has been the coronation church since 1066 and the final resting place for seventeen monarchs.

Each year, Westminster Abbey opens its doors to thousands of worshippers and visitors to celebrate Christianity’s most solemn and joyous festivals.

The Abbey’s Easter celebrations are a profound blend of ancient liturgy, magnificent music, and a community spirit reflecting the modern world’s diversity and vibrancy.

This article will detail Westminster Abbey’s Easter and Lent services, events, operating hours, dress code, and more.

Lent and Easter timings at Westminster Abbey

During Lent and Easter at Westminster Abbey, visitors can explore various areas with adjusted timings to accommodate special services and events. 

The Abbey General Admittance allows visitors to explore the Cloisters, College Garden, and the Pyx Chamber from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm. 

The Chapter House hosts the Notre Dame exhibition from 9.30 am to 3.30 pm, requiring pre-booking or English Heritage membership. 

Group entry is permitted from 9.30 am to 3 pm, except for a break between 12 pm and 1 pm. 

The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries are open from 10 am to 3 pm. 

At the same time, St Margaret’s Church welcomes visitors from 10.30 am to 3.30 pm. 

The Cellarium Café and Terrace, Kiosk, Westminster Abbey Shop, and Dean’s Yard offer additional amenities and exploration opportunities during their opening hours.

Events at Westminster Abbey during Easter and Holy Week

Several special events during Easter and Holy Week at Westminster Abbey highlight key moments of the Christian faith.

The Sung Eucharist and the Blessing of Palms and Procession on Palm Sunday celebrate Jesus Christ’s triumphant entry into Jerusalem. 

This begins with the Blessing of the Palms outside St. Margaret’s Church.

The Holy Week Concert features the Choir of Westminster Abbey and St. James’ Baroque orchestra performing Bach’s “St. Matthew Passion.” 

This narrates the story of Jesus’ final days.

The Sung Eucharist service, which includes the Washing of Feet, commemorates the Last Supper. 

During this service, hymns are sung, and the Dean of Westminster washes the feet of twelve congregants, symbolizing humility and service.

Finally, Evensong on Easter Day provides a traditional Evening Prayer service, complete with Easter hymns and a sermon, offering a conclusion to Easter Sunday.

Here’s the list of events that take place during Easter at Westminster Abbey:

Event NameTimings and Date
Sung Eucharist with the Blessings of Palms and Procession10.30 am to 12 pmSunday, 24th March 2024
Concert for Holy Week: Bach – St Matthew Passion6.30 pm to 9.30 pmTuesday, 26th March 2024
Sung Eucharist with the Washing of Feet5 pm to 6.45 pmThursday, 28th March 2024
Solemn Liturgy of the Passion and Death of Our Lord3 pm to 4.15 pmFriday, 29th March 2024
Vigil and First Eucharist of Easter8 pm to 9.30 pmSaturday, 30th March 2024
Holy Communion (BCP) on Easter Day8 am to 8.40 amSunday, 31st March 2024
Sung Eucharist on Easter Day10.30 am to 12 pmSunday, 31st March 2024
Evensong on Easter Day3 pm to 4 pmSunday, 31st March 2024

Westminster Abbey Lent and Easter tickets

While entry is free for religious visitors, there are long waiting times and heavy crowds during Lent and Easter. 

Also, they can not tour the Abbey during their visit. 

However, you can skip the long lines and waiting times and get full access to the Abbey with a paid entry ticket.

The entry ticket costs £29.

We recommend buying your tickets online to avoid last-minute hassles and standing in long queues at the ticket counter.

Why visit Westminster Abbey during Lent and Easter?

Westminster Abbey hosts a series of special services throughout Holy Week, starting with the Blessing of Palms, Procession, and Sung Eucharist on Sunday, March 24, 2024. 

These services offer moments of reflection, meditation, and communal worship.

It features readings, hymns, and the Solemn Liturgy of the Passion and Death of Our Lord on Good Friday. 

On Easter Sunday, visitors can participate in Holy Communion, Sung Eucharist, Festal Evensong and Procession, an Organ Recital, and a Service of Readings and Music for Easter. 

These services provide a meaningful opportunity for individuals to engage in the Easter story and celebrate the resurrection of Christ in a historic and sacred setting. 

Everyone is welcome to attend these services at Westminster Abbey.

Visiting Westminster Abbey during Lent and Easter offers an opportunity to experience the spiritual significance during a special observance in the Christian calendar. 

During Lent, visitors can participate in services and events reflecting repentance, reflection, and renewal themes. 

At the same time, Easter celebrations at the Abbey focus on the joy and hope of Christ’s resurrection. 

Special services, concerts, and exhibitions provide a deeper understanding of the religious significance of these seasons.

What Should You Wear During Lent and Easter at Westminster Abbey

During Lent and Easter at Westminster Abbey, it’s appropriate to dress modestly and respectfully. 

Ensure you follow the dress code, which insists on covering your shoulders and knees. 

Opt for attire that is comfortable for walking and sitting during services. 

Avoid wearing clothing with offensive graphics or slogans, as these may not be suitable for the solemn atmosphere of the Abbey. 

You should also avoid flashy or revealing attire. 

Dresses, skirts, or dress pants paired with blouses or button-down shirts are suitable options. 

Consider the weather and dress accordingly, as some areas of the Abbey may be cooler than others. 

For Lent, a period of reflection and repentance, consider wearing somber colors such as dark blues, purples, or grays. 

Traditional Easter colors include white, symbolizing purity and new life, and pastel shades such as light pink, lavender, or mint green, representing the freshness and renewal of spring.

The goal is to dress to show reverence for the sacred events commemorated during Lent and Easter.

The Best Time to Visit Westminster Abbey during Lent and Easter

The best time to visit Westminster Abbey during Lent and Easter is during the weekdays, particularly in the mornings or early afternoons. 

Weekdays are less crowded than weekends, allowing for a more peaceful and contemplative experience. 

Visiting earlier in the day can help avoid the busiest times, allowing visitors to explore the Abbey with fewer crowds. 

However, checking the Abbey’s schedule for any special services or events that may affect visitation times is essential.

For a Crowd-Free Visit

For a crowd-free visit to Westminster Abbey during Lent and Easter, consider visiting during the weekdays, especially in the mornings. 

Weekdays typically have fewer visitors than weekends, providing a more serene and intimate experience within the Abbey. 

Arriving early in the day can help beat the crowds and allow for a quieter exploration of this historic and sacred site.

If you want to tour the Abbey, avoid visiting on special days that draw huge crowds, like Palm Sunday, Ash Wednesday, Easter, etc. 

For a Holy Experience

To ensure a holy and meaningful experience at Westminster Abbey during Lent and Easter, take the time to participate in the various services and events offered. 

Attend sung Eucharists, concerts, or special services that commemorate the significant events of the season. 

Take advantage of moments for prayer and reflection within the Abbey’s beautiful and historic surroundings. 

You can join guided tours or talks that provide insights into the Abbey’s history and spiritual significance, enriching your visit.

Waiting time for Westminster Abbey during Lent and Easter

During the off-peak season, the wait time for Westminster Abbey is usually around 30 to 60 minutes. 

However, during Lent and Easter, the waiting time significantly increases due to more visitors, additional security measures, and checkpoints. 

The duration of wait times for events and services at Westminster Abbey typically varies, ranging from one to 1.5 hours, depending on the length of the service. 

Exploring the Abbey during Easter can take approximately three to four hours due to the crowds and the various activities.

To minimize wait times, planning visits during weekdays or earlier in the day is advisable when crowds are typically smaller. 

Booking tickets online can help reduce wait times.

Tips to Avoid Crowds at Westminster Abbey During Easter

Here are some tips to help you avoid crowds at Westminster Abbey during Easter:

Plan Your Visit Wisely

Consider visiting Westminster Abbey during weekdays rather than weekends, as weekdays have fewer visitors.

Arriving early in the morning or later in the afternoon can help avoid the busiest times.

Pre-Book Tickets

Consider booking your tickets online to skip the queues and ensure entry during peak times. 

This lets you bypass ticket purchase lines and head straight into the Abbey.

Attend Early or Late Services

If attending a service or event at Westminster Abbey, opt for early morning or late afternoon services, as these may have fewer attendees than midday events.

Explore Less Popular Areas

While the main areas of Westminster Abbey may be crowded, explore less popular areas of the Abbey, such as the gardens or lesser-known chapels, for a quieter experience.

Join Guided Tours

Guided tours often offer priority access to certain areas of the Abbey. 

They can provide insights into its history and architecture. 

Look for tours that offer smaller group sizes for a more intimate experience.

Stay Informed

Check Abbey’s website or social media channels for crowd-level updates and any special events or closures that may affect your visit. 

It will help you adjust your plans accordingly and avoid potential crowds.

FAQS about Lent and Easter at Westminster Abbey:

1. What special services are held there during Lent and Easter?

Westminster Abbey conducts various services throughout Lent and Easter, including the Blessing of Palms, Procession, Sung Eucharist, Solemn Liturgy of the Passion, Holy Communion, Festal Evensong, and more.

2. Can anyone attend the services at Westminster Abbey during Lent and Easter?

Everyone is welcome to attend the services at Westminster Abbey during Lent and Easter. 

There are no restrictions on who can participate in these religious ceremonies.

3. How long do the services at Westminster Abbey during Lent and Easter last?

The duration of the services at Westminster Abbey during Lent and Easter varies depending on the specific service. 

Some services may last for an hour or less, while others, such as the Solemn Liturgy of the Passion, may last longer.

4. Are there any special activities or events at Westminster Abbey during Lent and Easter?

In addition to the religious services, Westminster Abbey may host special events, exhibitions, or concerts during Lent and Easter. 

Visitors can check the Abbey’s website or inquire at the visitor center for more information.

5. Can I explore Westminster Abbey’s attractions outside the services during Lent and Easter?

Visitors can explore Westminster Abbey’s attractions, such as the Cloisters, Chapter House, and Queen’s Diamond Jubilee Galleries, outside of the scheduled services during Lent and Easter.

Featured Image: Facebook.com(WestminsterAbbeyLondon)

About the author

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