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Westminster Abbey on Christmas Eve


First Eucharist of Christmas & Blessing of the Crib
Choristers of Westminster Abbey stand as a 25 foot Christmas Tree is illuminated

Choristers of Westminster Abbey stand as a 25 foot Christmas Tree is illuminated on the North Green of Westminster Abbey.

Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images
For many people who do not regularly attend church, Christmas Eve is the night that brings them out to think about the true meaning of the Christmas season.

I've been to the Westminster Abbey Christmas Eve service and thought it might be helpful to let you know what to expect. As with all services at Westminster Abbey you will get to see the stunning interior and hear the angelic choir.

Everyone Welcome
Firstly, you do not need to be Christian to attend the church service. They are very clear that everyone is welcome.

Cold Inside
Remember, this is not just a tourist attraction but a working church so please remove your hat as soon as you get inside. You will be reminded! But it is cold inside so you may well want to keep your coat on.

When you enter, you will guided towards rows of chairs so it's best to enter with your friends so you can sit together.

Free Booklet
On every chair there is a booklet about the service. This is free and it guides you through what is going on, when to sit, when to stand, when to sing, etc.

Yes, there is singing involved and everyone joins in for the hymns which tend to be songs we all know such as 'O Come All Ye Faithful', 'Silent Night' and 'Hark the Herald Angels Sing'. All the song words are in the booklet.

No Photography
Switch your phone off and do not take photos. I'll mention it again, this is a church and not a tourist attraction.

A Long Service
I was surprised how long the service was but the 15-page booklet should have been a clue that this wouldn't be half an hour. The service starts at 11.30pm so arrive from 11pm and do not enter late; you will be let in but I think it's rude to arrive late and distract others. The service lasts around 1.5 hours so be aware you will be inside till at least 1am. Do not think "I'll come for a bit and then leave" as this is disruptive and again, I feel is bad manners.

Children are welcome but consider the late timing, how cold it can be inside as well as outside at this time of year, and how long the service lasts. I wouldn't recommend bringing young children but I saw plenty of older children who knew how to behave in church and were still awake at the end.

At the end of the service, the organ plays and it's time to file out. At the exits there are clergy waiting to shake your hand and wish you a Merry Christmas and also to collect donations (money) which are divided between the Abbey and their nominated charity.

Find out more about Christmas in London.

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