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A View of Ely Cathedral
A View of Ely Cathedral

Christmas at Ely Cathedral


Celebrate the birth of Jesus and a new relationship with God at Ely Cathedral this Advent, Christmas and Epiphany. Hear again the message of the angels and, in heart and mind, go to Bethlehem and discover the peace of the Christ Child through the pages of scripture and the carols of the choirs.

This iconic landmark is the only UK building to be listed as one of the wonders of the mediaeval world. Your visit can include attending one of our special events or services (see below), meeting friends for lunch and Christmas shopping. You can come to simply experience the spiritual and seasonal ambiance of this beautiful Cathedral and gaze at the magnificent 30ft Christmas Tree.

Key Events and Services

Advent Procession and Carols - 6.00pm
One of the most memorable, moving and popular services of the Cathedral Calendar. This service aims to recapture something of that Advent longing and hope. It begins in darkness with the Advent Prose. The Blessing of Light follows, and, as the service unfolds, the light is carried to other parts of the Cathedral as the procession moves from west to east. The remainder of the service is structured around the Advent Antiphons, known as the Great 'O's. These were sung originally as antiphons to the Magnificat at the Evening Office from 17 to 23 December, and have provided a rich source of devotional imagery in Advent.

The Libby Purves’ Nativity Crib Exhibition - 10.00am - 4.00pm (South West Transept)
A unique exhibition of Christmas Nativity Cribs by author and broadcaster, Libby Purves and her family, will be on display in the Cathedral this December. The collection comprises over 120 cribs from 40 countries. Admission (to the Exhibition only) is free with a suggested voluntary donation of £1 per adult. All proceeds to benefit The Children's Society. Sponsored by The Friends of Ely Cathedral.

Winter Wonderland - 7.30pm
A Christmas Concert with a Swing!
Join us for this highly popular Christmas Concert featuring many celebrated seasonal favourites from stage and screen. The Cathedral Choir, the Choristers and the Ely Imps will be supported on stage by a Jazz Quintet led by Pat Brandon.
Tickets available online

A Christmas concert featuring Sir James Galway - 7.30pm
A Christmas concert featuring Sir James Galway and Lady Jeanne Galway with Louise Wayman - soprano and Johnny Herford - baritone accompanied by The Orchestra of St. Johns - conducted by John Lubbock. Tickets available online

Children's Society Christingle - 3.00pm
Proceeds will help The Children's Society's vital work with children facing life’s harshest challenges: children who may find themselves sleeping rough this winter; fleeing conflict and war; caught in a cycle of crime; or marginalised due to a disability.

Son et Lumière - 8.00pm
Ely Cathedral is one of England’s most awe-inspiring buildings. An evening in the Cathedral away from the crowds is a unique experience as words, music (Ely Cathedral Girls' Choir) and atmospheric lighting combine to bring alive The Story of Christmas. Tickets available online

Ian Anderson plays the Christmas Jethro Tull - 7.30pm
It is with great excitement that we announce that Ian Anderson, rock legend and classical musician, will be performing The Christmas Jethro Tull at Ely Cathedral. The concert will include traditional seasonal pieces such as 'We Three Kings' to music from Jethro Tull's highly acclaimed classic album, Aqualung. Tickets available online

Hark the Herald - 7.30pm
A magical evening of traditional carols and seasonal music performed by the Cathedral Choristers and the Choir of Ely Cathedral. Supported by Cambridge based brass ensemble, Prime Brass. Tickets available online

At Christmas heaven comes to earth; earth is raised to heaven, and we join our voices to the Angels' song of praise:
Glory to God in the highest, and peace to his people on earth

Crib Service (i) - 12.00pm
Crib Service (ii) - 3.00pm
Carol Service (ii) - 6.00pm
Midnight Mass - 11.30pm

Sung Eucharist - 10.30am
Evensong - 4.00pm

Sung Eucharist (Lady Chapel) - 10.30am
A Service of Readings and Carols - 4.00pm
led by local singers. If you would like to take part please email (by 20 December) the Music Secretary: f.ascroft-walker@cathedral.ely.anglican.org stating which voice part you sing.

Ely Cathedral Shop

Visit our Christmas Gift Shop to see our full range of seasonal merchandise including gifts, tableware, decorations and cards. All Cathedral Christmas cards and some of our Christmas gift range are available to buy online. (There is no Cathedral admission charge to access the Shop or the Refectory Café) Our specially themed Cathedral Christmas shop is open seven days a week and offers a perfect Christmas shopping opportunity selling cards, wrapping paper, tree decorations, festive tableware and wonderful gifts.

The Refectory Café, located inside the Cathedral, offers a selection of homemade cakes and seasonal refreshments. The Almonry Restaurant & Tea Rooms, situated in the Cathedral's beautiful grounds, provides an appealing menu of traditional festive produce served in the 13th century Undercroft.


Throughout December our visitors can enjoy daily tours of the Cathedral ground floor by one of our specialist guides. Those feeling more adventurous can climb the Octagon Tower* to view the Nave in all its glory from 170ft above. (*Octagon Tours available at the weekends and subject to availability mid-week.)

The Cathedral is open from 7.00am daily up to and including including Christmas Day. From Boxing Day until 5 January the Cathedral opens at 8.00am and closes at 4.30pm.