Brunch with Santa – Cathedral Christmas

17th December 2021

Portsmouth Cathedral invites visitors to tune into God for an Advent Retreat, children are invited to Sunday Brunch with Santa in Chester Cathedral, and young and old came together last weekend to witness the traditional Lighting of the Tree and Blessing of the Crib service in Durham Cathedral.

Advent retreats, Sunday brunch with Santa and the tree is lit at Durham Cathedral

These are just some of the ways you can experience this special season with our cathedrals back at the heart of Christmas.

All our cathedrals have varied Advent programmes with a wide range of services, events and activities.

Face coverings are now mandatory in our cathedrals unless you are exempt, you may need to provide proof of a negative Covid test or show a Covid Pass at some of the bigger services, tickets may be required to help our cathedrals manage numbers and keep people safe, and many of our services will be livestreamed.

Please do check each cathedral’s website for up to date information.

Portsmouth Cathedral is inviting visitors to take time out from the Christmas preparations this Saturday (18 Dec) and tune into God in the peace of the cathedral building with a guided reflection and plenty of quiet and space.

The Advent Retreat is part of Portsmouth’s Advent and Christmas programme which saw a successful Christmas market and fair complete with Santa’s grotto, and includes traditional music from the Cathedral’s choirs, Christmas carols by candlelight, shoppers carols on the green and the crib service.

For the first time this year, Portsmouth Cathedral ran two complementary Christmas events, a new Christmas Gift Market in partnership with Love Southsea Markets supporting local traders, and their own Cathedral Christmas Fair. The event held over the first weekend in December attracted over 3,500 people and raised over £9,000 to support the mission and ministry of the cathedral – and saw increased takings in the cathedral shop too.

The Dean of Portsmouth, the Very Revd Dr Anthony Cane said: “Last year we did not have the Christmas we would have expected in more ordinary times. This year, if all goes to plan, we will newly appreciate such things as family gatherings and the singing of carols. We might also rediscover the power and unexpectedness of the Christmas story, in which God seeks out the worst of human conditions and makes them the time and place to come and share our human life.”

Selected services including carolscrib services and midnight mass will also be available to stream online. Find out more about Christmas at Portsmouth Cathedral, including a full schedule of services and events on the Portsmouth cathedral website.

Chester Cathedral’s Christmas Tree festival is back for its ninth year with 50 decorated trees from local charities, businesses and other organisations. It has a varied programme of concerts and shows including The Snowman Tour, operatic duo, Belle Voci, and visitors can experience the cathedral by candlelight with special tours this Christmas alongside a varied programme of worship and music. You can find Chester Cathedral’s Advent and Christmas programme here.

Christmas Tree Festival at Chester Cathedral

And Durham Cathedral has a wide range of special services, concerts and events, in celebration of the birth of Christ.

Visitors can make eco-friendly tree decorations or a paper angel in craft workshops and last Sunday saw the ever popular Lighting of the Tree and Blessing of the Crib.

This special service saw people, young and old, witness the moment that the 25 ft tall Norwegian Spruce tree is illuminated for the first time.

Last night (16 Dec) a special NHS Carol Service took place with a performance from an NHS choir created especially for the event. NHS staff – past and present – along with family and friends came together as this special choir led the congregational singing of traditional carols, shared readings and gave a Christmas message. It is the 24th year of this event on behalf of NHS organisations across the whole of the North East.

Christmas Tree at Durham Cathedral

Next week sees the festivities continue with the Festival of Nine Lessons and Carols on 22 December at 6pm (repeated on 24 December 3pm). This traditional service heralding the birth of Christ always starts in darkness with a solo chorister singing the first verse of Once in Royal David’s City.

For more information about visiting the cathedral and booking for special services and events visit their website here

Cathedral Events Calendar - What's On