Celebrate Advent and Christmas at York Minster with traditional festive services, much-loved seasonal music and concerts, a festival of Christmas trees, a new production of The Nutcracker for families and a concert by Jethro Tull’s legendary Ian Anderson.
The season begins on Advent Sunday (3 December), with the spectacular Advent Procession service. Starting in complete darkness, the cathedral is gradually illuminated by candlelight as the Choir of York Minster moves through the building to readings from the Old Testament, setting the scene for the Christmas story. Daily worship and Evensong services throughout Advent and Christmas will include prayers, music and readings for the season.
The ever-popular annual Christmas Carol Concerts will take place on 7 and 8 December, with readings by actor David Bradley (Harry Potter, Game of Thrones), and music by the Choir of York Minster and the Yorkshire Volunteer Band.
On Saturday 9 December, York Minster will present a magical new performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker. Children (and adults alike) will love the narration by local children’s actor Gemma Sharp (Artistic Director of local theatre company Hoglets), and the artistry of Benjamin Morris, York Minster’s Assistant Director of Music, who will bring Tchaikovsky’s music to life on the cathedral’s spectacular Grand Organ.
York Minster will host a unique musical experience on Saturday 18 December, when folk rock legend Ian Anderson presents Christmas with Jethro Tull in the Minster’s stunning Nave. He performs in cathedrals across the country each year, donating the ticket sales to the care and conservation of the cathedral buildings.
From 2 December (until 5 January 2024), York Minster’s Christmas Tree festival returns with 60 trees, individually decorated by local businesses, schools and charities on display in the Chapter House, the Nave and the Lady Chapel.
Christmas week worship includes the Crib Service (23 December), Nine Lessons and Carols (23 and 24 December) and Midnight Mass (24 December). The Archbishop of York, Stephen Cottrell, will preside at the Eucharist of Christmas Day at 11am (25 December).
York Minster’s Advent and Christmas programme is set out below. For booking information visit www.yorkminster.org or call the Bookings Office on 01904 557200.
York Minster’s Advent and Christmas Programme 2023
Evensong – Sunday 26 November, 4pm
Johann Sebastian Bach’s Cantata 140, Sleepers, wake
On the Sunday before Advent, the Choir of York Minster gives its traditional annual Evensong performance of Bach’s popular Cantata 140, ‘Wachet auf, ruft uns die Stimme’ (Sleepers, wake), with orchestral accompaniment.
York Minster Christmas Tree Festival – Saturday 2 December – Friday 5 January during general admission times
York Minster Christmas Tree Festival returns for the third year with 60 trees on display in the cathedral’s stunning Nave, Chapter House and Lady Chapel.
Sunday 3 December, 5.30pm. Free, pre-booked tickets required
On Advent Sunday, York Minster gradually emerges from darkness into full candlelight in the stunning and atmospheric Advent Procession. The Choir of York Minster will process through the cathedral to music, readings and prayers.
Christmas Carol Concerts
Thursday 7 and Friday 8 December, 7pm
The Choir of York Minster will perform much-loved Christmas music, with seasonal readings from special guest David Bradley and music by the Yorkshire Volunteer Band.
The Nutcracker at York Minster – Saturday 9 December
First performance 2pm – 3pm
Second performance 7pm – 8pm
A magical new performance of Tchaikovsky’s The Nutcracker from York Minster for children and adults alike. Narration by local children’s actor Gemma Sharp (Artistic Director of local theatre company Hoglets), and music by Benjamin Morris, York Minster’s Assistant Director of Music, who will bring Tchaikovsky’s music to life on the cathedral’s spectacular Grand Organ.