29th October 2021

Worship, Music and Events for Advent and Christmas

Worship, Music and Events for Advent and Christmas

Advent and Christmas are almost upon us, and the Cathedral is celebrating in style as usual. Wonderful services, beautiful choral music sung by the world-class choir, Christmas dinners in the Refectory Restaurant, a 34ft Christmas Tree at the West End and special Christmouse trail for kids – plus a chance to do some last-minute Christmas present shopping in the Cathedral Shop.  

Inside and outside, the Cathedral will be ‘dressed’ for Advent and Christmas with trees in the Close and Cloister Garth covered in fairy lights. Anyone following the Salisbury Christmas Tree Trail will find the first tree will be by the Bell Tower Tea Rooms on the edge of the North Lawn.


CONCERT: Monteverdi Vespers Saturday November 20 at 19.00

There’s an ambitious performance of Claudio Monteverdi’s masterpiece, the Vespers of the Blessed Virgin Mary, with four choirs (including the full Cathedral choir – men, girls and boys) and eight soloists in the cathedral on Saturday 20 November. The choirs will be accompanied by the period orchestra Florilegium and for this concert the singers and musicians will sing and play from different points in the Cathedral, creating a stunning ‘surround sound’ effect.

Monteverdi’s Vespers lends itself to using the entire Cathedral space because of the variety of musical styles he employs. For this concert, the Salisbury Musical Society and the St John Singers will form the main choir at the Spire crossing, while the Farrant Singers and Salisbury Cathedral Choir will process around the building, performing in different spaces. Some of the soloists and even a few instrumentalists will also be on the move.

Tickets from £10-£40 are available here

WORSHIP: Darkness to Light 19.00 on Friday 26 and Saturday 27 November (doors open at 18.00) and Sunday 28 November (Doors open at 16.00).

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.

Mulled wine and mince pies will be available in the Cloisters ahead of the service.

Services are free but ticketed this year in order to manage capacity, which is reduced due to Covid safety measures. 

ALL STANDARD SEATS NOW ALLOCATED – If you would like to book a seat for a wheelchair user or specific access needs, in the South Transept, please book by telephone 01722 512112 so that we can fully understand and accommodate your needs. If you would like to be added to a waiting list for any returns. Please email litmus@salcath.co.uk with your request

WORSHIP: Advent Talks Four online sessions at 19:00 on Mondays 29 November and 6, 13 and 20 December 2021 focussing on what Advent means to us today. Click here for details.



CHILDREN’S EVENT: Triple Bill: Snowman with The Nutcracker Suite – live orchestra Friday 3 December at 14.00, 16.00 and 19.00

Three performances of the popular Snowman with ‘live’ orchestra – a captivating double bill with The Nutcracker Suite, complete with an exclusive big screen animation. Fantastic musicians, great stories and a fun evening.
The Refectory and Shop will be open until 19:00 for pre- and post-show refreshments, or if you fancy doing some late-night Christmas shopping.

WORSHIP: Chorister Bishop Evensong Sunday 5 December at 16.30

A special Choral Evensong during which the new Chorister Bishop will be installed. 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.

FREE EVENT: Late night Festive Open Evening Wednesday, 15 December from 18.30 – 21.00

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. Children can ‘meet’ the Holy Family and play with a small flock of ‘sit on’ sheep. To make it extra special book a trip up the tower, to the base of the spire, where you will see Salisbury’s Christmas lights up high.


9 December onwards A special Christmouse trail leaflet for kids is available until Tuesday 1 February
Monday 20th December 10.00 – 14.30 Christmas Craft Activities for Families in the South Transept.

CONCERT: Messiah by George Frideric Handel Saturday 11 December at 19.00

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 is impressive. Soprano Soraya Mafi has been described as “all crystalline tone and spine-tingling high notes” by Tim Ashley, classical and opera critic on the Guardian; 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” in Opera magazine, and bass James Platt, sings with Welsh National Opera, Royal Opera and has performed the Messiah for Glyndebourne on Tour. Tickets are available here

Anyone wishing to book a 17.30 pre-concert dinner in the Refectory should contact the manager Paul Jackson on refectory@salcath.co.uk or 01722 555175

WORSHIP: Carols by Candlelight Wednesday 22 and Thursday 23 December at 19:00

All places for these services are now allocated, however we may get tickets returned by those who cannot attend on the day. If you wish to be added to the waiting list for returned tickets please email litmus@salcath.co.uk

WORSHIP: Christmas Eve Services

Friday, 24 December

07.30    Morning Prayer, followed by Holy Communion

15.30    Christmas Service for Families at 15.30 – plenty of fun, lots of singing, giant puppets, a real-life donkey and the new child friendly Nativity with ‘sit on’ sheep will be blessed. 

All places for this service are now allocated, however we may get tickets returned by those who cannot attend on the day. If you wish to be added to the waiting list for returned tickets please email litmus@salcath.co.uk 

17.30    Christmas Choral Evensong

23.00    Midnight Mass, or The First Eucharist of Christmas

Keeping visitors safe whether they are worshipping or visiting

Whether attending services or visiting for events the Cathedral is strongly recommending that face masks are worn when moving around the Cathedral and Cloisters. Capacity in the Cathedral is being managed and monitored, and sanitiser is available at strategic points throughout the building.