Where and when to go to catch the best festive traditional tunes
Italian Baroque Christmas – 9 December
Great St Mary’s Church, in the heart of the city centre, will be the setting for La Notte di Natale: An Italian Baroque Christmas, on 9 December. Hosted by Cambridge Early Music, this concert will see dynamic instrumental group Spiritato joined by soprano Augusta Hebbert to perform a wonderfully festive programme which includes music by Locatelli, Scarlatti, Stradella and Corelli’s Christmas Concerto. Starts at 7.30pm, tickets £23.
A Festival of Carols at Ely Cathedral –
There can be few more glorious settings in which to enjoy a carol service than the magnificent Ely Cathedral, which currently boasts huge 30ft Christmas tree. On 9 December, enjoy a celebration of the season with music from Choristers and Gentlemen of Ely Cathedral Choir, The Ely Imps and special guest, Laura Wright. The music will be interspersed with seasonal readings and poems and the event is in aid of East Anglia Children’s Hospices. Tickets are £10-£30, with an interval reception at the Lady Chapel (£19.50).
Christmas Carols at the Leper Chapel –
Escape the pre-Christmas chaos and go back in time for an evening of carolling by candlelight at the historic Leper Chapel on Newmarket Road. You’d struggle to find a more atmospheric setting than this building, which dates back to the 12th century and exudes history and stories from every nook and cranny.
Taking place on Sunday 18 December, the Reverend Dr Williams and Cottenham Brass Band will be leading the carols. There’ll be mince pies and mulled wine on offer too. Takes place 6.30-8pm.
A Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols – 24 December
The most famous of all Cambridge’s carol services is the one hosted on Christmas Eve at King’s College Chapel. Broadcast to millions of viewers around the globe, this event has run since 1918 when it was introduced to bring a more imaginative approach to worship, and always includes a specially commissioned carol.
These days, you have to be very organised to secure a spot – there are 600 seats but the queue begins to form a day or so before the event (admittance to the College grounds begins at 7.30am on Christmas Eve). But once you’re in you’ll be treated to soaring carols performed by some of the finest choristers in the country, as well as the majesty of one of Cambridge’s most breathtaking buildings.