Light in the World

01st December 2023

Light in the world

Cathedrals will host dramatic darkness-into-light Advent processions this weekend, Christmas trees will be installed and lit up, and Advent wreaths will be raised.

Advent Sunday sees the official start of the season as our cathedrals embrace the hope of Advent and become the focus for the joyous celebration of Christmas.

From Carlisle to Truro, Portsmouth to Chester, Salisbury to Lincoln, and everywhere in between, Advent processions will take place in many of our cathedrals starting in darkness and moving into light. Services will be conducted by candlelight and will feature traditional readings, Advent hymns and choir anthems.

Many will be live streamed so do check your local cathedral.

The countdown to Christmas begins in our cathedrals with Christmas tree festivals, programmes of festive services, concerts, special events, festive film screenings, shoppers’ carols, crib services, nativity plays, family activities and lots and lots and lots of candles.

And for Leicester Cathedral it is even more special as they can celebrate Christmas in their own building this year – the first time in two years – following their renewal project Leicester Cathedral Revealed.

Canon Precentor, the Revd Canon Emma Davies said:

“We are joyful at Leicester Cathedral! We are so glad that once again we shall be able to celebrate this special time of year in our renewed Cathedral building after nearly two years. What will bring us most joy is welcoming in the people of our City and County – and beyond – to celebrate with us, and we hope you will join us!”

Leicester Cathedral’s crib figures are currently touring the city ahead of their return to the cathedral for Christmas Day. Their knitted nativity too is making thte rounds in the community and there is a host of events, worship and family activities on offer in the cathedral this Christmas including quiet times after hours for people to find the peace of the season.

On 1st December York Minster raised its Advent wreath to be suspended below the Minster’s Central Tower. It takes the Minster’s expert team of volunteer flower arrangers almost three hours to create the display and the raising of the Advent Wreath is the pinnacle of the calendar year for them.

Here are just a few examples of what you will find in our cathedrals, so wherever you are this Christmas, find a Cathedral near you

Coventry Cathedral has a weekend of activities this weekend that include a celildh, lantern making, a Christmas craft makers market, and two screenings of the film, Nativity leading into its Advent Procession, Light in our Darkness on Sunday evening. You can find out all the events and services to experience the special meaning of Christmas  at Coventry Cathedral here

Ely Cathedral will see its 30ft Christmas tree lights switch on next Sunday (10 December) in a family event with worship, carols and a special blessing. It has a host of different services, concerts and family activities during the festive season including a Nativity Dress-up Day, a Children’s Christmas trail running throughout the Christmas holiday and concerts featuring the music of the season.

Gloucester Cathedral will open its doors after dark for several Cathedral Christmas Experience At Night events when visitors can experience the cathedral and all its decorations lit up after dark. There are carols on the hour on Saturday 9 December, a new family trail and the ‘Knitivity’ figures created by local community groups will be back too – just some of what is on offer throughout the season.

The Very Reverend Andrew Zihni, Dean of Gloucester, said:

“From worship and choral music to beautiful decorations and family-friendly activities, there are so many opportunities to come and explore this sacred space. Whether you’re a regular visitor or have never been here before, you are most welcome.

 At the centre of all this activity is, of course, the birth of Jesus Christ, the ultimate sign of God’s love for this world. Amidst all the excitement, gift-giving and celebration, let us ‘hear the angels sing’ and share in the peace, joy and love that Christ’s birth brings.”

Lincoln Cathedral is taking part in the Lincoln Ice Trail as well as hosting two of the ice sculptures as part of the city trail, there will be live demonstrations of ice carving during its winter wonderland weekend between Friday 8 December and Sunday 10 December.

And for the first time, there will be a carousel on the Dean’s Green too, just beside the cathedral.

The complete what’s on guide for the Christmas season, with full details of all our events and services, and information about how to book can be found on the Cathedral website here.

Portsmouth Cathedral will launch its Advent calendar this Friday when a door will be opened every day to reveal a prayer, poem, reflection or drawing to guide people through Advent. Behind the door will be contributions from many in the cathedral family and cathedral communities that tell the story of Jesus and our relationship with Him.

Portsmouth will also see the launch of its Christmas Nativity Trail from 1–20.

Truro Cathedral’s festive programme of services and events that include a family trail Follow the Starthroughout the season, join in the song with Truro’s Big Christmas sing  and its popular Pets Carol Service will be held after Christmas where all furry, four-legged and scaly friends are welcome.

Wells Cathedral is inviting visitors to come to their crib service dressed as a character from the nativity and have a wide range of musical events ranging from Christmas from the Movies to Vivaldi and The Messiah.

Saturday 2 December marked the opening of the York Minster Christmas Tree festival when 60 trees decorated by local businesses, schools and charities will go on display  throughout the building until 5 January.

York Minster will also celebrate Advent and Christmas with traditional festive services, seasonal music and concerts, a new production of The Nutcracker for families and a concert by Jethro Tull’s Ian Anderson.

The Very Revd Dominic Barrington, Dean of York said:
“As we move towards the great seasons of Advent and Christmas, we are conscious not only of the nights drawing in but of the considerable darkness afflicting much of the world, including the region that Christians often call the Holy Land.

“The season of Advent helps us prepare for the coming into the world of a light which is inextinguishable, and on each Sunday of that season, another candle will be lit on our great Advent Wreath to symbolise that light which the world has not, and cannot overcome.”

Photo – Light Before Christmas by Luxmuralis  at Liverpool Cathedral. Runs until 8 Dec. Photo credit Gareth Jones